Joe Conzo, Jr. first met members of the Cold Crush Brothers in 1978, while he still attended South Bronx High School. The Cold Crush Brothers, an important and influential early hip hop group including DJs Charlie Chase and Tony Tone, and MCs Grandmaster Caz, JDL, Easy AD, and Almighty Kay-Gee. Becoming the group’s professional photographer, Conzo documented their live performances at the T-Connection, Disco Fever, Harlem World, the Ecstasy Garage, and the Hoe Avenue Boys’ Club. He also shot photos of other hip hop artists and groups, street scenes, Latin music performers and events, documenting the South Bronx as it was and capturing Hip Hop when it was a localized, grassroots culture on the verge of spreading worldwide, when DJ, MC, and b-boy/girl battles took place in parks, school gyms, and neighborhood discos.
His photographs, post and present, have appeared in publications like The New York Times, Vibe, The Source, and Esquire, and his work has been shown internationally in galleries in London, Japan, and Germany. Domestically his work has appeared in both the gallery setting, as well as academically at places like Cornell University and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
The archive of Joe Conzo, Jr., has become part of the larger Cornell Hip Hop History Archive. Conzo’s archive contains more than 10,000 of his negatives and prints.