Jonathan Mannion’s legacy can be viewed through the album covers he’s shot throughout his career. From the late Aaliyah to Eminem, the Ohio native has helped painted a portrait of the albums that have become the soundtrack to any hip-hop fan’s lives. Mannion’s start is a story that never gets old.
In 1996, Mannion was recruited by Rocafella Records to take photos of a young rapper by the name of Shawn Carter for his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. “It wasn’t about the money; just give me a chance to set the pace,” he recalled during RD20, the documentary that aired via Tidal on the 20th anniversary of the legendary album.
“The ideas that I have are crazy. That’s when the album was originally called Heir to The Throne and from there it switched to Reasonable Doubt the following day. We ultimately ended landing on a style piece with classic portraits…to really establish him as this Brooklyn, already established OG. We wanted to create something that was lasting. Something that could have been taken on that day in 1996 or yesterday, in 2016.”
There were celebrations and pop-up shops honoring Reasonable Doubt last month, but Mannion’s “PROPHECY” exhibit was the most intimate. A total of 22 images were shown at the private event that helped bring the album to light. With music from DJ Clark Kent filling the room, Mannion shares the energy of a new photographer, despite his lengthy career.
VIBE chatted with Mannion about his longevity, shooting DJ Khaled (Major Key,) Gucci Mane (Everybody Lookin) albums and more. Check out the interview and photos from the event in the gallery above.