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Hip-Hop And Soccer Collide In World Premiere Of New Mel D Cole Documentary

By Stephanie Ogbogu

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When you think of soccer, hip-hop culture doesn’t automatically come to mind — until now. In a new mini-doc, Black Arrow, a lifestyle brand focused on the intersection of soccer and black culture, and AS Roma, legendary Italian football club, follow famous hip-hop photographer Mel D. Cole on his journey to capture his first international soccer match.

Mel D Cole’s love for hip hop runs deep, long before shooting iconic images of Drake, Kendrick, Mac Miller, and Questlove, the 43-year-old photographer, whose father owned a record store in New York City, first immersed himself into hip hop photography when he captured a Common concert at SOB’s with a disposable camera in 2002.

Drake and Sade shot by Mel D. Cole

Mel is known by many for his concert and festival photography but when he had the chance to try something a little different and focus his talents on sports, he loaded up his camera equipment and went to Rome to shoot his first international soccer match.

Soccer, or football as it’s referred to internationally, is heavily rooted in cultures within the African diaspora. That’s one of the reasons Mel wanted to shoot the sport. Before heading to Rome, Mel had only ever shot 4 or 5 soccer matches. In this beautifully shot mini-doc, we travel to Rome with Mel D Cole as he leads up to the experience of a lifetime.

“Opening up AS Roma to the Black Arrow crew has allowed their creative team to tell new stories that approach the club from a completely new perspective,”  said Mitty Arnold, Managing director at AS Roma, Americas. “What those of us who work here and those fans who have been deeply immersed in the club for years sometimes take for granted is all new to Mel D. Cole, a hip-hop photographer who is still new to European football. This new mini-documentary from Black Arrow allows us to see Roma through the eyes of someone experiencing the passion of Roma and the legendary Curva Sud for the very first time.” 

AS Roma shot by Mel. D Cole

Aaron Dolores, founder of Black Arrow FC adds, “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. 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.”

Justin Kluivert shot by Mel D. Cole

With guest appearances by AS Roma’s rising star and Dutch sensation, Justin Kluivert, this cinematically filmed project gives viewers a front-row seat to Mel’s intimate experience with some of Europe’s most passionate fans. It’s amazing to see how much Kluivert and hip hop fans in the United States have in common. It seems music will always be the thing that brings cultures together.

Watch the full mini-doc below.

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Stephanie Ogbogu

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