The Boombox Project

October 14, 2010

I got a Panasonic with a set of 15’s
Black with the silver grill, shining, lookin clean
Glove on my right hand, face on lean
I keep it by my side like Radio Raheem
Ghetto blastin’, you know the sound
Everywhere I go I get asked to turn it down

— Jay-Z, “Boom Box”

In Tokyo in 2001, photographer Lyle Owerko found a mint late-seventies Victor JVC at an outdoor flea market. Already a collector, Owerko began looking for more rare and obscure models. His tres cool photo book The Boombox Project (Abrams Image; $24.95) comprises his  fine art portraits of an array of vintage boomboxes, as well as scores of documentary photographs of the people who brought the boombox movement to life back in the day. ( I had this one.)

The iconic ’80s fetish item popularized  by rappers, b-boys, political protesters was a kind of anti-iPod, as it insisted on collective, as opposed to the earbuddedly insular, musical experience. Even if it did disturb Sal and take 20 D batteries.


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