LRT’s Inaugural Artist – Ernie Paniccioli

Jul 21, 2021

Image Credit: Robert Adam Mayer.

"I wanted to photograph Ernie because he is a beautiful person and one of the greatest hip hop photographers of our time. It’s not just his amazing historical photos that make him legendary, but his heart and soul as a human being. His work is critical to our culture and he is a living legend… [my photo] is of a man and a friend, whose work and spirit I admire and respect immeasurably.”

It is with the greatest sense of appreciation that on the debut of the Let’s Rethink This (LRT) website we present famed Hip Hop photographer, Ernie Paniccioli as our Creative Community’s Impact Artist of the month.

It has been declared that “If Brother Ernie has not photographed you, then you are not Hip-Hop.”

But that is not the story that Brother Ernie wants to leave behind.

“I want to be known for the breadth of my work beyond Hip Hop. I want there to be an awareness of my global, racial, political and social activism,” he states emphatically. “The press is ‘cut-and-paste’ lazy. They will put you in a box, stick you on a little postcard – and that is deadly to the person we truly are.”

For those who are not familiar with this legend, a few background snippets:

  • Activist as well as artist
  • American of Cree and Italian descent
  • Inducted into the Hip Hop Hall of Fame
  • Spokesman for the Temple of Hip Hop at the United Nations Hip Hop Peace Conference
  • Featured 2021 Speaker International Indigenous Hip Hop Awards Show
  • Nearly 20,000 digital versions of photographs by Ernie Paniccioli are stored in the Cornell University archives, providing an unprecedented visual history of Hip Hop culture of the 1980’s, 90’s and early 2000’s.
  • His work has appeared in publications such as Vibe, The Source, Rolling Stone and The Village Voice.
  • Author of Who Shot Ya?: Three Decades of Hip Hop Photography (2002) and Hip-Hop at the End of the World: The Photography of Brother Ernie (2018).
  • His lens has captured legends LL Cool, Run DMC, KRS-One, Queen Latifah, X Clan, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Notorious B.I.G., “Puff Daddy” Combs and so many more.

NFT’s As Example

Ernie, with the help and guidance of his daughter and Director of the Paniccioli Group, Melissa Paniccioli, is exploring the world of Non-Fungible Tokens – and he is excited.

“I and other artists of all mediums need to get involved and put our work out on an auction channel like Open Sea and elsewhere to get experience as well as earn from our work in a way we might never have imagined.” is his take.

“Economically, it expands the artist’s ability to survive. For the first time ever, they can benefit from residual revenue should their art be sold and resold again (each sale includes a stipulation that a percentage on each sale is paid to the artists even when sold by new purchasers.)”

“Think of the expanded financial ability for artists to give back to their community,” he continues. “We use the technology of rockets and satellites to expand our ability to solve things. To rethink them. In a like manner, Monies generated by NFT’s can help with social problems like homelessness,” Ernie says. “Certainly, a donation of even a small share in the sale of a digitized piece is helpful. But it does something more important. It brings awareness of the problem.”

“So, when the time comes that I release an NFT of my art or photography to my Hip-Hop community, it will also be an attention-getter that will illuminate my other work,” he adds. A diamond has many facets – and each needs to be shined up to show value. We activists/public figures are no different.”

“An artist has to constantly rethink their life and their work in that fashion,” Ernie instructs. Whether through my work in “Indian Country” (he is of Cree ancestry) public speaking or educating the youth – I will continue to redefine myself as long as I draw a breath.”

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