Progressive 365

Tupac Shakur bares his torso: Danny Clinch’s best photograph

‘When he changed his top, I saw his tattoos and said: “Oh man, we should try something without your shirt on”’

I started shooting the music industry in 1992 just as hip-hop was becoming more popular. Some people thought it was going to be a fad and not all photographers were interested in these jobs. But I was, so I began to work with a lot of hip-hop artists, shooting everyone from Public Enemy to LL Cool J.

Many of the artists come with a huge entourage – they bring the party with them. Sometimes that’s fun but other times it can get in your way. When I got the assignment to photograph Tupac from Rolling Stone magazine in 1993, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew Tupac had been in trouble recently, but I grew up not judging people until I met them. He showed up with just one other guy. He was on time and very cordial, he came in and shook my hand. He had a couple of different changes of clothes with him – he was very prepared. I think he knew that at the time Rolling Stone was not putting a lot of hip-hop in the magazine, so saw a great opportunity for himself and his music.

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