Two hundred and seventy two pages and every one of them is a masterpiece.
Normski is a name that more people should know, and more people will after perusing a new art book of the photographer’s work capturing the essence of the “cool ’90s.”
Normski: The Man With The Golden Shutter is being marketed as a visual record of the “Golden Age of Rap” by one of the key witnesses to that era. And that’s true — there are arresting (and sometimes close to arrested) photos of Public Enemy, NWA, De La Soul, Wu-Tang Clan and more figures of the era. But there’s a lot more in here. Goldie, after admitting his general lack of enthusiasm for photography, notes that Normski’s shot of him the night he received his first gold disc in 1996 “captures my soul, the moment in motion. EVERYTHING: the orphan boy from Wolverhampton who they said would never stand a chance, the cat that got the cream… and the joy of my heart… as a young man, finally breaking through.” That’s a pretty incredible tribute, but one that’s not hard to believe as Normski’s lens shows a radiant producer on the cusp of fame, beaming with joy and framed in gold and diamonds.
Normski also captured an image that would inspire even more visual works: the photo in Hart Plaza of six Black Detroit techno artists — Juan Atkins, Blake Baxter, Santonio Echols, Eddie Fowlkes, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson — that would serve as visual stimulus to the creators of the documentary God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines.
The hardbound edition of Normski: The Man With The Golden Shutter is out now, featuring an intro by Marcus Barnes and helpful notes and explanatory text throughout from Normski and sometimes his subjects.
There’s more inside 5 Mag’s member’s section — get first access to each issue for a few bucks a month.