Hip-hop photographer Mel D. Cole takes talents to European soccer with AS Roma

Jack BaerYahoo Sports Contributor
AS <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/teams/roma/" data-ylk="slk:Roma">Roma</a> recently had an interesting visitor in its photographer area. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
AS Roma recently had an interesting visitor in its photographer area. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

There isn’t much in common aesthetically between crowded hip-hop clubs and the open field of a daytime soccer match, but Mel D. Cole wanted to find beauty in both.

The famed hip-hop photographer who started his career with a disposable camera and black-and-white photography added international soccer to his list of subjects when he trekked to Rome to shoot an AS Roma match.

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The journey was captured in a mini-documentary produced alongside Roma by Black Arrow FC, a lifestyle brand promoting the intersection of soccer and black culture. Clearly, Cole made for a natural fit.

The 12-minute documentary details Cole’s background, preparation and experience shooting Roma’s match against Napoli.

Making an appearance in the doc is rising Roma winger Justin Kluivert, who spoke with Cole in his home.

“What I’m doing out here is I’m trying to take my expertise from this world and bring it into soccer,” Cole said to Kluivert in the documentary. “Using my hip-hop influence, using my eye as a photographer to get more Americans, black Americans specifically, more interested in this sport.”

Both Roma and Black Arrow hope the documentary can show the experience of a Roma home match through the eyes of a newcomer to European soccer, albeit a very skilled pair of eyes.

“What really opened my eyes to soccer was traveling the world, and seeing all the different ways the sport is connected to culture both on and off the field,” Black Arrow FC founder Aaron Dolores said. “Once I started scratching the surface I realized that black folks actually have a rich history in the game, and that made me really start to question this narrative we have in America that soccer “isn’t a black sport”. I wasn't mad at it - just realize it wasn't serving us and also felt it was extremely important for black folks to tell our own stories in the world's biggest sport.

“I hope this project is a representation of not only the art of storytelling, but creating new narratives for black creatives to show the world that we’re not limited in any one application of our talent and culture.”

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