B+ (aka Brian Cross) was born and raised in Limerick, Ireland. He attended the National College of Art and Design in Dublin graduating in 1989 with a degree in painting. In 1990 he came to Los Angeles to study photography at the California Institute of the Arts. While at Cal Arts he began work on a project entitled, “Its Not about a Salary: Rap Race and Resistance in Los Angeles” which was subsequently published by Verso Books in 1993. It was nominated as a Rolling Stone music book of the year and made the NME list for best music book of the year.
Since the publication of the book B+ has continued to work in the LA Hip Hop community. His first album cover work was for the Freestyle Fellowship (Inner City Griots). Since then he has done an estimated one hundred more for artists from Mos Def, Rza, and Eazy-E to Company Flow, J Dilla, and Damian Marley.
B+ has directed several music videos for DJ Shadow, Nitro Microphone Underground (from Japan), and Control Machete (from Mexico). His latest venture puts old school drummers together with new school DJs and is entitled Keepintime: Talking Drums and Whispering Vinyl. The DVD of the project was released by Mochilla, Cross’s production company with partner Eric Coleman, and was a big success; subsequently the Sundance Channel bought the TV rights and Ninja Tune released it in Europe and Australia. The sequel Brasilintime: Batucada com Discos has just recently been finished and has premiered in Sao Paulo Brasil and is currently doing the film festival circuit. B+ still lives in LA, answers his own phone, photo edits for Wax Poetics magazine, still digs like crazy and DJs from time to time. We are fortunate to have B+ discuss his contribution to “DELAYED GRATIFICATION.”
This being the third piece you've released with Edition One Hundred, How do you see them all tying in together, and functioning independent of each other?
Well they are all tied together by virtue of their relationship to Timeless. This most recent one was made on a trip to Ethiopia in 2003, which is when I first met Mulatu Astatke. The previous one is a portrait of the late great Dilla who is the subject of Suite for Ma Dukes and the first one in the series is from Carnival in Recife, Brasil which is where Arthur Verocai is from. I wanted them to be a triptych of photos that related to the whole Timeless project. Independently they work as images but the underlying connection is the series of concert films that we made in 2009. It is probably the biggest piece of work I have done and I am very proud of the links that have been made by these films.
How does this piece fit into the idea of Delayed Gratification? What do these words mean to you?
Well without wanting to stretch it out too much... I went to Ethiopia in 2003, when I was there I told Mulatu Astatke, “I will bring you to LA somehow.” Of course I’m sure he thought another promise from another fan... But I was serious I’ve always thought his music was incredible and his influence immense. It was just a matter of figuring it out. Well in 2009 we did. He played to a sold out crowd at the Luckmann Center for Performing Arts. It was a very emotional few days culminating in the show. Delayed gratification for me and, whoa, delayed gratification for him. He still speaks about the show as being one of the greatest of his life. And to this day I get calls from the musicians and even random Ethiopians thanking us for putting it together.
Why do you choose to print your own photographs in your traditional, wet darkroom? And, what are you feelings on that process almost becoming an "alternative process" when it was once the traditional, and normal process of developing photographs? How do you at once embrace technology but also remain committed to the traditional processes such as a wet-lab?
This is photography for me. I love the lab, the smell, the cropping the dodging, burning living with the image. It’s the working out process for me. If I haven’t printed it I feel like I didn’t really give me my final stamp. In the Digital Age, the turnaround time never allows for that and I feel we are losing something in there. I’m not a Luddite by any means but I believe I have to live and breathe the image a bit before it is ready to go into the world. That process happens down here in my basement with my old Fujimoto machine and some good music.
Edition One Hundred is curated, limited edition art available in editions of 100, priced at $100.00. Prints are hand-signed and numbered by the artists in a size and/or print exclusive to Edition One Hundred. More here.