Ghost Notes: Music of the Unplayed – photography book by B+

Ghost Notes: Music of the Unplayed – photography book by B+

  • by Jeff Jank /
  • September 20, 2017

In the store | GHOST NOTES by B+

Pre-order for December 12 release. Books signed by B+

When Stones Throw relocated to Los Angeles in 2000, and Madlib promptly set up shop in the living room of a house we temporary used as HQ, one of the first people to come knocking was photographer Brian "B+" Cross.

B+ had already been all over the hip-hop landscape, shooting for album covers and magazines. His giant leather bound portfolio seemed to be like the best unpublished book I’d ever seen.

He was the first to photograph Madlib as a solo artist, just after the release of Quasimoto’s The Unseen. He shot the Shades of Blue album cover, went to Detroit to get Dilla for Jaylib, shot Madvillain in my back yard, did the first Beat Konducta cover, and many others for Stones Throw. B’s photos were so much a part of label’s identity in these years, that we still get asked if all of our photos are by B+, though we’ve worked with dozens of photographers with distinctly different styles.

But his work has always been about more than rap snaps - it's about the world of people who create music, and the vast, ever-changing influences that weave the culture of hip-hop.

Ghost Notes: Music of the Unplayed (its name from the unplayed sounds that exist between beats in a rhythm) is an extended photo essay with more than two hundred images that represent a mid-career retrospective, bringing together the worlds of LA Black Arts poetry and Jamaican dub, Brazilian samba and Ethiopian jazz, and the faces ... DILLA, EAZY E, QUIK, BLOWFLY, AXELROD, BRIAN WILSON, and BIGGIE, to name a few.

B+ is an assistant professor in the Dept. of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego, and co-founder of production house Mochilla. He was the photo editor of Rap Pages from ’93-98, and Wax Poetics from 2004-2010. Ghost Notes is his first book since 1993’s It’s Not About a Salary. But if that’s too much to remember, just go with this line in the resume: David Axelrod named a song on his last album, “Big B Plus.”

A few photos:

J Dilla in his Detroit studio, Jaylib sessions, 2003.
Thundercat, Los Padres National Forest, 2015.
David Axelrod, North Hollywood, 1999.
Sound system repair, Jamaica, 2012.
Leon Ware and George Clinton, Los Angeles, 2012.

GHOST NOTES: THE MUSIC OF THE UNPLAYED