The late rapper Tupac Shakur was a controversial and complex character. While troubled during the latter part of his short life, documentary photographer Chi Modu managed to capture the legend in his more vulnerable and open moments. The candid, rare photos will be available in the newly released book, Uncategorized.
Modu conceptualized Uncategorized in 2013 as an outdoor showing of various visuals of Tupac, along with other legendary icons in his field. The photographer caught Shakur in his most joyous moments among those closest to him. “Unlike many photography books with slick, posed images from recording sessions and performances, this book shows the human, vulnerable side of this superstar. Because he saw Modu as a friend and fellow black man, Tupac let his guard down, allowing Modu to capture the real human behind the celebrity,” reads Uncategorized’s introduction.
The photos were taken while Modu first began trailing Tupac in 1994 until six months before his passing in Las Vegas, Nevada. “The art world tends to be very exclusive and full of obstacles for both the artists and the public. My goal was to make art more inclusive by pulling an end run on the galleries, breaking down the barriers, and bringing the art directly to the people. Like graffiti, but legal,” Modu explains.
Modu’s aim when documenting the culture is to break down people’s perceptions of those behind the music: “People always want to put artists into neat little boxes. My work does not fit into any one stereotype and neither do I. I wanted to create something that is the opposite of putting labels on everything and make a statement against stereotyping. I don’t see this as just an exhibit or book. I see it as a movement that can’t be stopped. Power to the people!”