What It Is...What It Was...

Dear Mr. Dikk –

I lied.

When I talked to you the other day I told you that I had an interesting entry planned for Dumpin.net since I noticed a lull (to put it mildly) in content on your blog. The best part about it, I said, is that it had nothing to do with Lil Wayne or Tha Carter III. Remember that?

Well, indirectly it does.

Because the cover of Weezy F’s highly-anticipated, recently-released album is SO bad it makes me wonder if the people responsible for that MS Paint abomination were sipping from the same Styrofoam cup as Wayne. How is it that nowadays mixtape art is more creative than actual album art? The same thing goes for movie posters, too, but we’ll get into that on MY blog, not here. Long story short, everyone is taking the easy route and using still photographs instead of attempting ANYTHING else. So without further adieu or any more wordy lead-ins, here are my ten personal favorite album covers that actually contain ART work.

Business As Usual – I have a weakness for accurate depictions and paintings, like the old blaxploitation movie posters of the ‘70s. I’m not sure what statement Erick and Parrish are trying to make here, if any, but they look awfully cool to be in the midst of a very soon-to-be Sean Bell-like situation.

Doggystyle – Considering how much ’08 Lil Wayne-like buzz Snoop had at the time, I expected so much more for his debut album cover. I don’t know who drew these things for Snoop (in addition to this, all of Snoop’s singles from this CD sported similar art) but they were as deliciously lewd as they were juvenilely crude. Sure, it looked like something a high school freshman might scrawl on the front of their Health notebook but as a budding artist myself at the time it made clear an important fact: it’s not about how much talent you may or may not have, it’s about who you know. Because Lord knows, you likely wouldn’t have seen this otherwise.

A Prince Among Thieves – This colored pencil piece is here because the artist managed to effectively recreate the short film and the likenesses of the artists involved. I can tell that’s Big Daddy Kane aka Count Mackula the pimp sitting there. Yes, that’s Xzibit locked up in the county rockin’ an orange jumpsuit. Oh, and Everlast as a cop.

Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde – I don’t really have much to say about the album cover itself other than it looks like one of those deals where you place an animation cell over a static painted background on some old school Don Bluth shit. I do, however, remember seeing one of the members, “Slim Kid” Tre Hardson on MTV’s Real World and learning another life lesson: just ‘cause you have an album out it doesn’t mean you’re rich. I was doing better than this nigga from what I could tell and he was famous.

ATLiens – Not only is the cover comic book-inspired but it actually came with a mini-comic book.

Graduation – And this dude wonder why Beanie got at’im and implied he was gay…? Come on. As hot as the album is and I understand that to stand out sometimes you gotta jump on some other ish to seem original (‘Ye decided most aspects of Asian culture suited his trendsetting needs) but no matter how you slice it, a grown-ass man having a flying teddy bear on his album cover is more than a little suspect.

Uptown Saturday Night – Shouldn’t even have to explain why this is here. Besides the fact that the music is notoriously slept-on and super-dope, the art instantly and intentionally recalls Marvin Gaye’s ’76 “I Want You” album aka the painting from “Good Times.” Damn, damn …DAMN!

Stress: (The Extinction Agenda) – I like how there’s more going on IN the bodies of Prince Poetry and Pharoahe Monch than what’s going on in the primordial soup around them. Great likenesses once again and I dig the superhero-ish slant combined with a real ‘70s star child type vibe. And for the record, this hip-hop version of Power Man and Iron Fist look like they’d kick the shit out of the ATLiens version of OutKast.

Liquid Swords – This was one cover where, as a comic book collector, I could immediately identify the artist. Not that it matters but it’s by Denys Cowan, who I personally discovered back when he was drawing Marvel’s Deathlok, before he moved on to being one of the driving forces behind DC-Milestone comics which specialized in minority characters and he penciled the Hardware book. He was a producer on The Boondocks during the first season and is currently Senior VP of Animation at BET. I just know he’s responsible for one or rap’s dopest drawn album covers and my Liquid Swords t-shirt.

RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo – Make it Top Two for the Wu! I wish the album was as good as the art. Wu members are famous for creating aliases and alter egos but RZA went all the way with this one. When I saw this artwork and the “W” filled with fictitious scenes of violence, decadence and more violence, I WISHED there was an actual movie available, no matter how terrible it was bound to be. In fact, I looked forward to clowning RZA wearing that mask that a recently-acquitted statutory rapist made famous (Y’all seen the tape…you know it was him!) trying to wield that big-ass green gun. I was fully prepared to make Bobby Digital my new favorite superhero and wanted a full-sized joint for my bedroom wall, I swear to God.