T. Eric Monroe’s body of work features rare images and moments from the 1990s, chronicling the intertwining worlds of hip-hop, skateboarding, and hardcore.
During the 1980s, Monroe skated and dabbled in photography. By the early 1990s, he had emerged as a sought-after cultural savant. He may have grown up in Somerset, a small suburban town in central New Jersey, and Monroe earned his reputation in New York City.
In 1988, during his junior year of high school, Monroe’s photography work was published in Thrasher Magazine. By 1992, he was a regular contributor to the magazine, and his work was distributed internationally through stock photo agencies.
In fall 1995, he became the photo editor of The Source Magazine. Monroe became disillusioned with the hip-hop scene as the millennium approached. He shifted his focus towards producing an amateur skateboard league:
The United Skateboarding Association (Beast of The East Contest Series). This helped Monroe carve out marketing opportunities seen, at the time, only by him. One of his first clients was Activision, for which he marketed video game titles like “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” and “Wu-Tang Clan’s Shaolin Style.” Monroe went on to produce events for Tony Hawk and the “Got Milk?” campaign.
He also worked closely with Marc Ecko to help market Zoo York, Complex, and “Marc Ecko’s Getting Up” video game. By the mid-2000’s, Monroe was working for marketing agencies to craft campaigns for established and newly emerged brands, including Scion (Toyota), Sailor Jerry Rum, Red Bull, Skyy Vodka, and Aperol to name a few.
In 2010, Monroe observed his published work - originally released in print in the 1990s - appear on social media platforms. Around 2012, Monroe dug deep in his archive of 90’s photographs. Recognizing an opportunity to present, again and for the first time, the portraits and features to an audience whose interest in hip-hop was renewed and fresh, across generations and populations, Monroe digitized and cataloged photos,
Initially, he shared the resulting work and stories through social media. In 2019, he authored and self-published the first in what would become an iconic book trilogy: Rare & Unseen Moments of 90’s Hip-Hop: Volume One, Two, and Three.
Monroe’s book series, which has been identified as one of hip-hop’s cornerstone publications, provides imagery of the rap game’s most influential artists’ humanity and spontaneity. The impact of Rare & Unseen Moments of 90’s Hip-Hop has been felt by artists, producers, and pioneers, and connected Monroe with a new generation of cultural savants.
Today, Monroe actively shares his work via showings at fine art galleries, appearances on photography and hip-hop panels, and collaborations with brands and creatives. His work is always reaching new audiences.
The collected images are a rare glimpse into that moment when life becomes immortalized - capturing a moment in life that tells its own story of your cultural heroes."