The cover to Alabama rapper Yelawolf's new mixtape exemplifies two schools of artwork that we've investigated here at The Awl. 1) The prominent-sunglasses album cover and 2) Rappers with American flags. But, oddly, the above image is reminiscent of nothing so much as traditionalist troubadour Leon Redbone.
The wonderful depressive Bill Callahan has recorded a terrific version of Mickey Newbury's 1973 nugget "Heaven Help the Child." In a cool move, Callahan's label, Drag City Records, has released it as a split 7-inch single with the original. The video looks like the cover to Brian Eno's Before and After Science album.
Cee-Lo has a supercool cover picked out for his Lady Killer album, which is due next month. It's classic-looking. And very familiar. The sunglasses, the relaxed pose, the close-up headshot.
Of course, sunglasses go with music stardom like cocaine goes with more cocaine. There are lots of famous songs about the subject. Some of them are great. Thusly, there have been many album covers similar to Cee-Lo's.
Keith Richards Demands Guarantee From God If The Stones Are To Play This Summer's Glastonbury Festival
"On a good day if the weather's fine, that's an interesting proposition." —The Rolling Stones have a new album coming out next month, have you heard? It's called Grrr! , and its cover art is by far the best the band has released since at least 1983's Undercover. It's clean and arresting and kind of naughty and dangerous and inappropriate for a group of 70-year-old men—I like everything about it except for the finger-painting font they borrowed from Bruce Springsteen's latest album cover. Unfortunately, upon the first few listens, new single "Doom and Gloom" (I know, I know: why even listen to a new Rolling Stones song [...]
"Powerful, indignant, protective: that’s how a bear feels, and that’s how Mr. Ross sounds, as if nothing could possibly derail him, and everyone who walks with him will be safe." —Awl pal John Caramanica writes with Doolittlian insight into the ursine emotional state ("indignant"?!) in his review of Rick Ross's new mixtape, Rich Forever. And here is Ross sounding like a bear while rapping with guest star Nas. Also, the album cover to the left is not the cover of Rich Forever, but that of the 1998 album Doin Thangs from Houston rapper Big Bear. Who sounds less like a bear than Rick Ross, but Rick [...]
The whole notion of album cover art seems sort of silly these days, what with so few people actually buying albums. (Though I'm very interested in seeing what kind of numbers Drake puts up this week-half a million is projected, and 20,000 people is a lot of people to draw to South Street Seaport.) This makes me all the more pleased that Atlanta rapper T.I. put the effort he did into the picture which will adorn his new King Uncaged when it hits stores come August.
The artwork for the long-gestating collaboration between the Wu-Tang Clan and The Lox (a.k.a. "D-Block") is a strong addition to the list of American-flag themed hip-hop album covers. I like it! (Though, as might have been expected, it looks like some red paint has been spilled in the printing process.) The first single from the album, which comes out next month, is called "Stick Up Kids." Lox MC Sheek Louch and the Wu's Ghostface Killah always sound good together on records. Their voices share an adenoidal whine that bestows an emotional element so often lacking in rap.
Here's the new track from ASAP Rocky, whose debut mixtape, Live, Love ASAP comes out today. The Harlem rapper recently signed a three-million-dollar deal with Sony subsidiary Polo Grounds Music and denounced homophobia in an interview with Pitchfork. That last part shouldn't be as newsworthy as it is. That's the cover of the mixtape there. It's a good cover, I think. What interests me most, though, is the use of the American flag in the image, which places ASAP Rocky in a long tradition in rap.
Awesome! Atlanta rapper Waka Flocka Flame goes back to the glory days of the old Pen-and-Pixel designs for the cover to his new mixtape, Lebron Flocka James Pt. 2. Here is Flocka, headband in place, superimposed upon the NBA superstar's body, dribbling a basketball out of a fiery explosion in space (a microquasar, perhaps?), between a packaged brick of illicit-looking product and a large mound of cocaine, which seem to have been left, rather cavalierly, at center court of a basketball arena. There's nothing left to say, really, except thank you. Thank you, Waka Flocka Flame. Thank you. Here, to better appreciate the details: