A famed hip-hop photographer who used his iconic image of Biggie Smalls to sell snowboards claims the rapper’s estate has been trying to ruin his business after a payment dispute.
Chi Modu, known for his shots of legends like Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dog, the Notorious B.I.G. and others, is suing the company that manages Biggie’s estate after it labeled him a “parasite” in an ongoing court battle.
The rift began in 2018, Modu claims, after he wanted the estate to pay more to use a 1996 picture of the Brooklyn-born Biggie, also known as Christopher Wallace, in a multi-colored sweater and sunglasses posing with the Twin Towers in the background.
“I basically asked for a living wage for my work,” Modu told The Post.
Modu had sought approximately $100,000 a year for the estate to license a combination of his pictures of Biggie.
“Up until then, they were paying much, much less, so you see what’s going on,” he noted.
Notorious B.I.G. LLC then sued Modu in California, claiming Modu had used the rapper’s image to sell snowboards without permission. Less than two dozen snowboards had been sold, the photographer said.
“The person who presses that shutter is the owner” of the image, Modu said. “As copyright holder, I’m the person with the first right to exploit it. This is a fight for the artist, because artists aren’t earning a living wage.”
Wallace was shot and killed in Los Angeles in 1997. Notorious B.I.G. LLC declined comment.