dead presidents video

A 25-year old Jaÿ-Z, photographed in his first official press-shoot by Jamil GS in Battery Park City, Downtown Manhattan, in the Summer of 1995.

“This is when it all began for the chief, and for me also. I think this was my second record industry gig. I remember it was low budget. I didn’t know who Jaÿ-Z was at the time, nor did anyone really in the world outside of Brooklyn, but my friend Patrick Moxy at PayDay Records/Empire Management had a good ear for amazing talent and contacted me to shoot what would become the first professional press shots for Jay. This was gearing up to the release ofReasonable Doubt.

A few of Jay’s friends from when he used to dribble down in VA came to pick me up from my Avenue A apartment in his Lexus. This was the same Lexus from the ‘Dead Presidents’ video. I remember him saying, damn there’s a lot of freaks around here, and there was. That was back when Alphabet City was still funky. We drove to swoop Jay from his new condo off Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn and then headed to downtown Brooklyn next to the Riverside Cafe. It was a mixture of sexy logistics and wanting to catch some iconic New York shit.

Being that Jay lived in downtown BK, I decided to go to the waterfront by the river cafe on Water Street where we could also get a hint of the NY downtown skyline. Later we crossed the bridge to Wall Street and Battery Park City. The idea was to shoot him surrounded by all symbols of material wealth like the Twin Towers and luxury yachts. This was pretty clear symbolism and Jay knew exactly what kind of image he wanted, even back then.

I was inspired by the album cover of Donald Byrd’s A New Perspective, and shot this with a Hasselblad 553, using a 40mm lens. I shot using Kodak Tri-x 400 film.”

Contact sheet featuring rare shots of a 25-year old Jaÿ-Z, as photographed in his first official press-shoot by Jamil GS in Battery Park City, Downtown Manhattan, in the Summer of 1995.

“This is when it all began for the chief, and for me also. I think this was my second record industry gig. I remember it was low budget. I didn’t know who Jaÿ-Z was at the time, nor did anyone really in the world outside of Brooklyn, but my friend Patrick Moxy at PayDay Records/Empire Management had a good ear for amazing talent and contacted me to shoot what would become the first professional press shots for Jay. This was gearing up to the release of Reasonable Doubt.

A few of Jay’s friends from when he used to dribble down in VA came to pick me up from my Avenue A apartment in his Lexus. This was the same Lexus from the ‘Dead Presidents’ video. I remember him saying, damn there’s a lot of freaks around here, and there was. That was back when Alphabet City was still funky. We drove to swoop Jay from his new condo off Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn and then headed to downtown Brooklyn next to the Riverside Cafe. It was a mixture of sexy logistics and wanting to catch some iconic New York shit.

Being that Jay lived in downtown BK, I decided to go to the waterfront by the river cafe on Water Street where we could also get a hint of the NY downtown skyline. Later we crossed the bridge to Wall Street and Battery Park City. The idea was to shoot him surrounded by all symbols of material wealth like the Twin Towers and luxury yachts. 

 I was impressed by the fact that Jay had brought a custom-made vanity plate [that was] made from cardboard. We used some gaffer tape and stuck it on top of the existing plate. He had also brought some bottles of Cristal that he placed by the windshield inside the car. This was pretty clear symbolism and Jay knew exactly what kind of image he wanted, even back then.

I was inspired by the album cover of Donald Byrd’s A New Perspective, and shot this with a Hasselblad 553, using a 40mm lens. I shot using Kodak Tri-x 400 film.”

Jay-Z, photographed for the cover of Stress magazine by Daniel Hastings in 1995. Knowing he was going to be someone of importance for New York, Hastings shot Hov in lower Manhattan in front of the World Trade Center - the same spot used in his ‘Dead Presidents’ video.

Stress gave Jay-Z his first cover, and it was released in the Summer of 1996 before Reasonable Doubt dropped. Rumor has it that in keeping with their ‘do anything to get ahead’ ethos, Jay and Dame Dash actually offered to pay the magazine’s owner Alan Ket for the printing of the issue in order to secure the cover.