Kendrick Brinson does not claim to be a hip-hop or rap expert, merely an observer of the culture.
Her outsider perspective has translated into a compelling ongoing project about the two genres and their influence in the American South.
“You have these stereotypical ideas about rap and hip-hop singers, and the funny thing is they’re true,” Brinson said.
However, she doesn’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. Even though Brinson has observed that rappers like Ca$h Out and Wale have all the stereotypical qualities of the genre and seem to be putting on a show, the moments still feel genuine.
“It’s not like he (Ca$h Out) was posing for me at any point,” Brinson said of the Atlanta rapper, “but all of those stereotypes of the culture were there.”
The reason Brinson hasn't given up on the project despite what, at first glance, would seem to be a well-orchestrated act is because she doesn’t believe her subjects are that naïve.
Photographing Don Trip revealed a more genuine side of the artist.
As Brinson described it, the “veil was lifted” when the rapper was with his 2-year-old son.
His typical angry demeanor vanished around Jaylen and it became clear to Brinson that the lifestyle choices, at least for this rapper, were so he could provide for his child
“These guys are running a business,” Brinson pointed out.
As a freelance photographer, that was easy for her to understand.
Just like Brinson, these musicians are working constantly and managing their own livelihood.
So it makes sense to her that “when they have a photographer come, they’re not going to do the boring stuff.”
Queue the stacks of money, drug paraphernalia and frequent visits to strip clubs.
Focusing mainly on Memphis and Atlanta, Brinson is trying to discover more about the culture and how the two cities affect it.
Memphis, home of Graceland and now Crunk Rap, has become the launching pad for rappers in the South, but most will tell you that Atlanta is where they make their names known.
Brinson said the majority of her long-term projects were chosen out of an interest she pursued, but this one “sort of chose me as the assignments rolled in.”
She continues the project whenever she can.
- Clint Alwahab, CNN