Return of the Mecca

Shout Outs

First off I want to thank all the contributors for their patience, support and commitment. I’ve made some incredible new friends throughout this process, and deepened other ones. So thank you all for all that you do: Yasiin Bey, Chuck D, Alden Kimbrough, Jamel Shabazz, Ernie Paniccioli, B+, Cognito, Joseph “Joe Buck” Buckingham, Katina Parker, Paradise Gray, Rosa Clemente, Mel Cole, Nemå Etebar, A-Ski (Unique74), DJ Kaleem, Asad (Footlong Development), Oliver Wang, Wesam Nassar, and all the artists, poets, musicians, activists, and every day people who continue to keep these histories alive by living them.

B+ (aka Brian Cross) is a photographer, director and writer. He is the co-founder of Mochilla, and is the author of It’s Not about a Salary: Rap, Race and Resistance in Los Angeles (Verso, 1993) which made the NME critics best music book of the year list. He has shot album covers for Freestyle Fellowship, Mos Def, RZA, Q-Tip, Eazy E, Los Super Seven, Ozomatli, Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, DJ Shadow, Company Flow, Blackalicious, Money Mark, David Axelrod, Warren G, Yusef Lateef, Madlib, J Dilla, Build an Ark, and Damian Marley, amongst others. He has directed several music videos and his other projects include Keepintime: Talking Drums and Whispering Vinyl and the sequel Brasilintime: Batucada com Discos.

Mark Bijasa is a creative director and designer based out of Cerritos, California. His designs for Redefinition Records as well as his own label Strictly Cassette were instrumental in reviving cassette culture in Hip-Hop. His work was featured on notable blogs such as Egotripland, 2dopeboyz & Mass Appeal. In addition to designing and releasing cassettes, Mark actively collects them and maintains an impressive archive. His tapes were used for the Return of the Mecca exhibit and catalog which he also designed.

Cognito has contributed immensely to the propagation of Hip Hop culture—from concert promoter to FatBeats record store operator to touring the world as a member of the underground group Massinfluence. Most consistently, Cognito is known for documenting legendary hip-hop artists such as Mos Def, De La Soul, Talib Kweli, MF DOOM and Kanye West on both still and video media. Cognito is the co-founder of, a marketing, design and production collective based on the concept of “frolaboration,” formed with graphic designer and photographer Jewell Green.

Mel Cole is a self-taught lensman who has made his home in and around the boroughs of NYC by consistently capturing all the city has to offer from the glamorous to the gritty. Cole’s vision has caught on with a variety of media outlets and personalities (print/online) having shot for Heineken, Nike, Puma, Wieden+Kennedy, Shepard Smith, Epiphany NYC, URB, Respect, Vibe, ID, Burton Snowboards, mogul Sean “P.Diddy” Combs, Etnies Skateboard,, Magma (Japan), 10Deep, and countless other lifestyle brands, musicians and music outlets.

Eric Coleman is an L.A. born artist who began taking pictures at the age of twelve. He deepened his appreciation and enthusiasm for photography while attending The Royal College of Art in London. He is the co-founder of Mochilla, where he has photographed artists such as Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Terrence Howard, Madlib, Hill Harper, DJ Shadow, Ernie Barnes, Faith Evans and MF Doom, amongst others. His photos have appeared in numerous publications and he has exhibited his work at the Transport Gallery in Los Angeles, Commonwealth Gallery in Virginia and the Royal Academy of Art Gallery in London.

Sohail Daulatzai is the co-editor of Born to Use Mics, a literary remix of Nas’s album Illmatic and is the author of Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom beyond America. He has written liner notes for the 2012 release of the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set of Rage Against the Machine’s self titled debut album, the liner notes for the DVD release of Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme and the centerpiece in the museum catalog Movement: Hip-Hop in L.A., 1980’s–Now. He is the founder of Razor Step, a Los Angeles based media lab, and he teaches in the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine.

Nemå Étébar’s work has brought him into the back alleys of Old Delhi, India, through the chaotic streets of Chinatown, New York City, and across the tea fields of Rwanda. He has bridged his commitment to philanthropy work and photography in projects such as PhotoPhilanthropy (Self-Established, Philadelphia), Voice4Girls (Nike Foundation, India), Village of Widows (NGO, Rwanda), and the Walt Whitman Community Project (MoCada Museum/HYCIDE). His work has been exhibited in galleries of New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Warsaw, Poland, and Paris. He has been featured in these publications: HYCIDE, JPG, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic Online, Snax, and Philly Style.

Paradise Gray has been a seminal figure within hip-hop culture. He was the Architech of X-Clan, manager of “The Latin Quarter,” a DJ, writer, author, producer, promoter, filmmaker, activist, Hip-hop Historian, and artist. He is the mentor to hundreds of legendary hip-hop artists and is a Curator/ Archivist and Hip-Hop Historian of “The Paradise Collection” which includes photographs, original hip-hop art, magazines, posters, autographs, fliers, documents, books, audio and videos collected and preserved beginning in 1979.

Alden Kimbrough: The Los Angeles based Alden Kimbrough Collection is perhaps one of the more important private repositories of artifacts documenting the lives, culture, and history of African Americans. Developed over more than forty years, the collection was originally focused on books. It now boasts significant high-quality holdings of film posters, sheet music, journals, photographs, and a large collection of blues and jazz recordings. Kimbrough’s materials also include exhibits on prominent individuals and organizations like the Black Panthers, Malcolm X and Paul Robeson, which have shown nationally and internationally.

Ernie Paniccioli has photographed some of hip-hop’s most well known artists, including Slick Rick, Grandmaster Flash, Rock Steady Crew, Doug E. Fresh, Ice Cube, Queen Latifah, Public Enemy, Salt-N-Pepa, and so many more. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Vibe, The New York Times, Newsweek, Life, Spin and Ebony, to name a few. He has several books of photography, including Who Shot Ya, and a documentary on his life called Another Side of Hip Hop, which won the 2007 Best Documentary Award at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Katina Parker is a filmmaker, photographer, writer, graphic designer, cultural curator, social media expert, and communications consultant. Through her work she speaks to the multi-dynamic possibilities of technology and media to spark social change for communities that have traditionally been under-represented in all forms of media. In addition to producing her documentary series Truth. Be. Told., which captures the personal stories of Queer Black Visionaries, and touring her exhibit One Million Strong: Photos from the Million Man, Million Woman and Million Youth Marches, Parker teaches film and media with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

Jamel Shabazz was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His work is focused on the human experience, which is evident in the titles of some of his two dozen solo exhibitions; “Men of Honor,” “A Time Before Crack,” “Pieces of a Man,” “Represent,” “When Two Worlds Meet,” “Back in the Days,” and “Seconds of My Life.” which have been shown from Argentina to Canada, England, Italy, Germany, France, Japan and throughout the United States. His books include Back in the Days, A Time Before Crack and Seconds of My Life.

The Los Angeles / Islam Arts Initiative (LA/IAI) brings together nearly 30 cultural institutions throughout Los Angeles to tell various stories of traditional and contemporary art from multiple Islamic regions and their significant global diasporas. LA/IAI is the first-of-its kind, wide-scale citywide initiative on Islamic arts producing and presenting programming such as art exhibitions, panels, discussions, and performances. Anchoring LA/IAI are two connected exhibitions, Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art and the contemporary art exhibition, Shangri La: Imagined Cities commissioned by the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) to be held at DCA’s Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) at Barnsdall Park from October 26 to December 28, 2014.