Contact High: new exhibition brings four decades of hip-hop history to the UAE

In collaboration with Manarat Al Saadiyat and Sole, the touring exhibition will open in Abu Dhabi this month

'Biggie Smalls, King Of New York' by Barron Claiborne taken in Wall Street, New York, 1997.
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Manarat Al Saadiyat and Sole have collaborated to bring a new exhibition to the capital.

Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop takes visitors through four decades of photographs, albums, magazine covers and memorabilia that document hip-hop culture.

Running from Tuesday, December 15 to Monday, May 31, 2021, the exhibition – which will be specifically curated for Abu Dhabi – will feature more than 150 images by 60 photographers, including Janette Beckman, Barron Claiborne and Jorge Peniche.

It is the first time the exhibition has been shown outside the US.

The photographs will be displayed alongside original contact sheets, which contain all of the images from a shoot. The contact sheets give an intimate look into the photographer's work as well as insight into the personality of the subject being captured, a side that is rarely seen by the public.

These images feature some of the biggest names in hip-hop, including Kanye West, Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, Megan Thee Stallion, MF Doom, Cardi B, A$AP Rocky, Tyler the Creator, Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, and the legendary The Notorious B.I.G..

One of the most recognisable images in the exhibition is the King of New York photo of The Notorious B.I.G., which went on to become a symbol of the rise of hip-hop in American culture.

The photo, which portrays Biggie Smalls as the King of New York, was taken by self-taught photographer Claiborne at his studio. It was taken just three days before the artist was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in 1997.

Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop runs from December 15 to May 31, 2021 at Manarat Al Saadiyat Abu Dhabi, from 10am to 8pm daily. Tickets are Dh30. To find out more, visit