Summer Jam 2019 photos by Mel D. Cole
This years version took place in a real park with real grass!
A lot of great performances took place and I have the pics and a BTS video to prove it how amazing the picnic was and came to be!
Shot on iPhone during my trip with Trey Songz and crew.
When we arrived they told me not to go out alone, but that never stopped me. I am not afraid of my own people and if something happens it just happens. You stay in, you never get to see what is meant to be seen. I walked around and boom! I saw these men playing the beautiful game amongst a background I have yet to see like this at that point.
I said my hellos, and I started shooting with my phone. Up until now I totally forgot about these images.
The unfortunate death of Nipsey Hussle happened only a few days before I was to arrive in Los Angeles with my family for a good friend’s wedding. On my way to my hotel from LAX I decided to go to The Marathon Store to document one of hip hop’s greatest stories of all time.
The celebration of the life and tragic death of rapper/activist and hood hero Nipsey Hussle.
I will let the photos say the words that I can not:
BREAKING NEWS! NEW BOOK ALERT!
Starting in 2002 as just a fan with a disposable camera taking pictures of the artists that inspired him, Mel D. Cole has evolved into one of the most accomplished and celebrated music photographers around while documenting a critical moment in music when Hip Hop took over the world.
And now, after 17 years of pictures, we are releasing the first book of Mel's work. And it's GREAT!
Please follow the Kickstater link to pledge your support to my life’s work!
In the year 2009 somehow I worked my way into becoming The Roots house photographer and it all happened at the now closed Highline Ballroom!
I started photographing them years before 2009 but it was during the jam sessions ( that cost 10 dollars btw ) that I really got to know my brothers and my war with Questlove began!
I could have not have had a better ended to the venue where I honed my skills as a photographer. Looking back, I literally went from guy who takes pics to pro photog during this time in my career.
My favorite hip hop band closing out the iconic Highline Ballroom two nights ago on Monday February 4th, 2019 and they KILLED IT with classic material and amazing covers as only The Roots can do was a dream come true.
Here’s some of the images I captured on Monday:
But lets back up just a little…..10 years or so, back to the Jam sessions. Back to those legendary nights where week after week Questlove, Black Thought and Richard Nichols (RIP) and the rest of the show producers put together some of the eras top talent together that otherwise would not performed together.
To me one of the greatest things The Roots do is genre bending and binding. They can play anything and back in 09 they did this for weeks on end.
Every week I could count on seeing some of my friends. I knew I would see Ginny, Dan, Bill, and Tina. Every week I knew I would be in store for something amazing. Every week I know there would be a wide range of special guest in the house from Jimmy Fallon and Taraji P. Henson to Ron Jeremy and Dream Hampton.
I miss those days!
Here’s a list of some of the talent that I remember performing at those sessions:
Janelle Monae, Mos Def, Wale, Truck North, Porn, Jesse Boykins IIITanya Morgan, Nneka, Freeway, Joe Budden, Bilal, Sahr Ngaujah, Jay Electronica , Q Tip, MOP, Craig G, Talib Kweli, Styles P, Zoe Kravitz, Jean Grea, Members of In Living Color, Boots Riley, Sean P, Amanda Seals, Skillz and many many more.
Here’s some highlights in photos from that year of jam sessions
Highline Ballroom, you will be dearly missed!
Yams Day 2019 celebrated the life of ASAP Mob’s Yams!
This years performers included:
So, my super client; Afropunk hired me to go over to Johannesburg, South Africa to photograph the 2nd year of their festival there! I had a long ( 14 hour) layover in Doha, Qatar on my way over so I decided to get out of the airport and explore.
Doha you did not disappoint. Your people are warm, kind and of the great quality! I spent most of my time at Souq Waqif. The food was good and the people watching was even better. I could have used a drink but that’s ok, I was tired anyways.
Here’s a few pics from Souq Waqif
After hanging out in Qatar for about 14 hours, I made my way back to the airport for a 9 hour trip to my main destination: Johannesburg, South Africa. It was my first time there and guess what?! It rained every damn day that I was there. But, I did not let that stop me from having a great time. I meet some new homies while watching Arsenal get smashed by Liverpool. I worked two days of Afro Punk and I went on a safari Pilanesberg!
See my photos below!
-Mel D. Cole
Afropunk Johannesburg 2018
Pilanesberg Game Reserve Safari