Now it can be revealed.
When Notorious BIG checked Word Up! magazine on his 1994 classic “Juicy”, it was actually a tribute to Word Up! lead photographer Ernie Paniccioli.
“FYI, he did this as a tribute to me. He told me he dedicated it to me,” Paniccioli said. “I said, ‘Why didn’t you use my name? He said… “No one can rhyme your name – your first name or your last name.” He said I dedicated it to you.
The line, “It was just a dream, I was reading Word Up!” magazine”, is one of the most emblematic of hip-hop. Paniccioli’s photos are featured in “A Hip-Hop Life: Five Decades of Hip-Hop Music, Art, and Culture,” on display through Oct. 30 at the Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center.
Biggie, Tupac Shakur, Naughty By Nature, Lauryn Hill, Fugees, Ice T, LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa and many more are featured through Paniccioli’s lens during the exhibition.
“He wasn’t like someone who worked for the press. He was really part of the culture,” Naughty by Nature’s Treach said of Paniccioli’s work.
Originally from Brooklyn, Paniccioli first photographed the city’s graffiti artists. This led him to hip-hop, and he quickly found himself in the middle of the music universe. He has lived in Jersey City since 1971; High word! and Rap Masters magazines were based in Paramus.
Many of the footage was shot in Jersey City, he said.
“For me, an artist, a musician, a painter, a dancer, a singer, a DJ are human beings,” he said. “They have a complex story, and if they look away and the story is in their eyes, you’ve missed the story. For me, the essence of a person is in their eyes.
Paniccioli attended an exhibit opening night on Thursday, June 2 at the Grammy Museum Experience that celebrated Black Music Month — and also marked new additions to the museum’s New Jersey Legends wing. The Rascals, Joey Dee and the Starliters, Leon Huff, Linda Jones, Melba Moore, Naughty By Nature, Sylvia Robinson, The Sugar Hill Gang and Tye Tribett are now consecrated.
Also:Naughty by Nature’s Treach is playing Orange Loop Rock Fest in Atlantic City this weekend
And:Has New Jersey finally learned to treat its musical heroes with respect?
In addition to Treach, attendees included David Brigati of Joey Dee and the Starliters, and his brother Eddie Brigati of the Rascals, Melba Moore, Dyana Williams aka Black Music Month Godmother, Jim Babjak and Dennis Diken of the Smithereens, Richard Barone des Bongos and more.
“I’m surprised and honored,” Garfield native David Brigati said of his inclusion. “We’ve had many, many successes – again and again.”
The group’s hits included “Peppermint Twist”, “Hey, Let’s Twist”, “Shout”, and “What Kind of Love Is This”. Guitarists in the band included Joe Pesci, who would later become famous as an actor, and Jimi Hendrix.
“He was great, then he went the other way and he died early,” said David Brigati of Hendrix, who died aged 27 in 1970.
Tickets to visit the Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center range from $7 to $10 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.com. The Experience is open Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on non-event days and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on event days.
Visit www.grammymuseumexp.org for more information.
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Jersey Shore native Chris Jordan covers entertainment and features for USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; [email protected]