10 Of The Finest West Coast Rap Album Covers


Rap is rooted within the East Coast, however the West Coast was instrumental in elevating the visible presentation of the artwork kind. Rappers from Los Angeles cultivated singular types that turned indivisible from the music. You’ll be able to level to N.W.A.’s all-black aesthetic, the bouncing and gleaming candy-painted Chevrolet Impalas that jumped to g-funk, or the enduring L.A. uniform of khaki’s, Converse, and a recent white t-shirt. That type carried over to their album covers. The very best mirrored their creators’ musical, private, and cultural influences. Right this moment, lots of these are synonymous with the sound of West Coast rap, the music audible at first sight.

Listed here are the tales behind ten of the best West Coast rap album covers, listed chronologically by launch date.

N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton

(1988, images by Eric Poppleton, artwork path by Kevin Hosmann)

N.W.A. didn’t create gangsta rap, however they codified the subgenre’s invincible, irreverent, and militant gangsta mythos on 1988’s Straight Outta Compton. Dr. Dre and DJ Yella crafted a barrage of banging but funky beats that hit more durable than LAPD battering rams. Backed by that manufacturing, Ice Dice and MC Ren captured the anger Black males in Compton and elsewhere felt from enduring police brutality in poor, gang-ridden neighborhoods that had been already veritable warfare zones. In the meantime, Eazy-E performed the swaggering, malt liquor-swilling dopeman. The Straight Outta Compton cowl picture of the group, taken from the attitude of a possible homicide sufferer, mirrored the album’s each sound, sentiment, and gunshot.

Recent from California Institute of the Arts, photographer Eric Poppleton bought the N.W.A. gig through pal and artwork director Kevin Hosmann. Missing funds for areas or lighting, Poppleton and Hosmann improvised for the duvet shoot. “There was no artificial lighting or anything, I just lay on the ground and they pointed what hopefully was an unloaded gun down at the camera,” Poppleton informed NME of the Straight Outta Compton cowl picture. “I couldn’t say for sure whether it was ready to fire, but it was definitely a real gun.”

Hearken to the album right here.

Ice Cube – Death Certificate

Ice Dice – Loss of life Certificates

(1991, images by Mario Castellanos, artwork path by Kevin Hosmann)

When Ice Dice arrived with N.W.A., he held nothing sacred and had no idols. That mentality turned much more obvious in his solo work. Everybody was a goal for his ire and interrogation on his sophomore album, Loss of life Certificates. Police, politicians, the president, white folks, girls – the listing goes on. The album was as private because it was sociopolitical, acutely aware but stuffed with contradictions that the press picked aside. On the duvet, Ice Dice stands inside a morgue, pledging allegiance to the U.S. flag whereas Uncle Sam lies useless beneath it. The picture displayed Dice’s unrelenting indictment of the U.S. and his perception that Black males might rise above the nation’s previous atrocities and current injustices.

Hearken to the album right here.

The Pharcyde – Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde album cover

The Pharcyde – Weird Experience II the Pharcyde

(1992, art work by Slick)

The Pharcyde had been the antithesis of the posturing, ostensibly invincible gangster macks who dominated L.A. rap within the 90s. As a substitute, the group of dancers turned rappers supplied self-deprecating comedy, stoner hijinx, emotional vulnerability, and youthful lust, couching every part in jazzy but bumping beats. The duvet for the group’s Scrumptious Vinyl debut, Weird Experience II the Pharcyde, is as colourful and libidinous as songs like “On the DL” and “Otha Fish.”

Designed by graffiti artist, nice arts graduate, and eventual avenue clothes designer Slick (Richard Wyrgatsch II), the Fats Albert-esque cartoon on the Weird Experience cowl depicts the group using in a cart on a winding and dilapidated rollercoaster straight into the mouth of a lady. The rollercoaster was partly impressed by the Colossus coaster Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA, and the lady was modeled on grownup movie star Ebony Ayes. Speaking to KCET in regards to the sexual cowl artwork, Slick stated, “…[W]e already established how we were going to crop it in, and how it’d be real a real subtle thing. I like the fact that it was a slow read. It wasn’t too blatant, you know.”

Hearken to the album right here.

Dr. Dre – The Power

(1992, artwork path/design by Kimberly Holt, images by Daniel Jordon)

Dr. Dre made a tough pivot after leaving N.W.A. The producer/rapper who claimed he didn’t “smoke weed or sess” on “Express Yourself” turned an avowed smoker when he recorded his aptly named solo debut, 1992’s The Power, for the then newly fashioned Loss of life Row Data. A diss file that eviscerated Eazy-E, a sociopolitical treatise on all of the injustices that impressed the 1992 L.A. riots – the album was all that and extra whereas turning g-funk right into a cinematic sonic expertise meant to soundtrack cruising, gang exercise, and smoke classes. The duvet of The Power factors to the latter. Impressed by the emblem for Zig-Zag, the French-originated rolling papers, Dre’s mean-mugging picture supplants the illustration of the French soldier that seems on Zig-Zag packaging. Easy but efficient and now without end iconic, the duvet was gangster but inviting, identical to g-funk.

Hearken to the album right here.

Cypress Hill – Black Sunday

(1993, images by Anthony Artiaga; idea and design by Dante Ariola)

Cypress Hill had been cholo stoners obsessive about hydroponic strains and doom in equal measure, rap’s reply to Cheech and Chong and Black Sabbath. B-Actual and Sen Canine painted their part of South Gate, California, in vivid, DayGlo hues whereas cloaking it in darkness and clouds of blunt smoke. The group’s emblem – a cranium vivisected by a number of arrows – presaged the picture they’d use on their sophomore album, Black Sunday.

DJ Muggs, the producer who scored lots of the group’s different albums, got here up with the idea for Black Sunday’s eerie, Sabbath-esque art work of a lone tree atop a hill affected by headstones whereas driving by a Brooklyn cemetery. “I’m driving by this cemetery every day into the city, and one day it f***ing snows and all the leaves are off all the trees,” Muggs informed the NY Put up. “There are just icicles on all the trees. The whole thing is white with snow, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to shoot that f***king album cover in that cemetery.’”

Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle

(1993, illustration by Joe Cool)

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg made no secret of their affinity for George Clinton and the music of Parliament and Funkadelic. So it was no shock that the cartoon cowl artwork of Snoop Dogg’s 1993 debut album, Doggystyle, is partly an homage to the comedian illustrations on albums like Funkadelic’s One Nation Underneath a Groove. On the vivid and busy cowl, a half-man, half-dog carrying a hat, an extended flannel, and a gold chain – a prototypical L.A. outfit within the 90s – leans over the sting of a canine home to succeed in for the tail of a half-woman, half-dog carrying lingerie. Behind them, a dogcatcher waits to seize them. Like a g-funk reply to the refrain in a Greek tragedy, three canine sit atop a brick wall observing the proceedings and quoting Clinton’s “Atomic Dog.”

Snoop Dogg’s cousin, Joe Cool, illustrated the duvet. Cool despatched Snoop a portrait of him throughout a jail stint, and Snoop got here to Cool with Dr. Dre’s idea after he was launched. “He said, ‘Well Dr. Dre really wants a picture of me on top of a doghouse, reaching over, feeling on a dog’s ass or something. But I want you to draw it, though. We’ll run it by Dre,’” Cool informed HipHopDX. Dr. Dre accepted, and the remaining is rap historical past.

2Pac All Eyez On Me album cover

2Pac – All Eyez on Me

(1996, images by Ken Nahoum)

All Eyez on Me is arguably 2Pac’s most well-known and enduring album. The explanations for this are many. You’ll be able to level to the context of its creation, the dimensions of Pac’s movie star, the power of the music, the visible presentation, his tragic demise shortly after its launch, or the entire above. The 27-track, double album is filled with anger, paranoia, lust, celebrity swagger, thug defiance, and glasses of thug ardour. You’ll be able to learn all of it on the duvet.

Shot by Loss of life Row’s then in-house photographer Ken Nahoum, the picture captures Pac on the peak of his fame and one of many darkest of occasions in his life. It completely captures the Thug Life and Mad Max aesthetic that might inform the “California Love” video. Shirtless, Pac exhibits off his tattoos, flashes a Loss of life Row medallion hanging from a gold chain, and rocks the black leather-based strap of a Jean Paul Gaultier vest. Throwing up the West Coast “W,” he visually cues the place his allegiances lie within the infamous East Coast/West Coast beef. Pac’s eyes additionally convey the sensitivity that allowed him to make songs like “Dear Mama” from Me In opposition to the World, the album that preceded All Eyez on Me. “Tupac was a poet,” Nahoum informed Andscape. “He was a person with a great vision in life.” Whereas 2Pac is now not with us, his imaginative and prescient continues to encourage folks from each stroll of life.

Hearken to the album right here.

The Game – The Documentary west coast hip-hop album cover

The Sport – The Documentary

(2005, images by Jonathan Mannion)

With The Documentary, The Sport made a West Coast rap album that just about appeared prefer it was created in a lab, a mix of each sound, sight, and cultural touchstone that outlined L.A. rap. He regularly known as again to his predecessors, and – on the similar time – added private and trendy touches to the sound and tropes of the previous.

The album cowl was shot by famend hip-hop photographer Jonathan Mannion, who’d taken iconic cowl images for Jay-Z, Eminem, DMX, and extra. Like 2Pac earlier than him, The Sport poses shirtless. He wears black Dickies and black Converse, each staples in L.A. avenue vogue. To nod to West Coast automotive tradition, he sits atop a tire with gold wire rims, the popular rims for the lowriders that turned synonymous with g-funk. “This is arguably one of the most important pictures in hip-hop,” Mannion stated in a dialog with The Sport. He’s not mistaken. The Documentary cowl is a minimalist encapsulation of every part that makes West Coast hip-hop.

Hearken to the album right here.

Jurassic 5 – High quality Management

(2000, images by Brian Cross a.ok.a. B+)

Whereas gangster rap dominated Los Angeles airwaves within the 90s, avant-garde underground rappers sparred at heated open mics and parking zone ciphers, growing creative cadences and infrequently touchdown main label offers. Jurassic 5 ranks among the many better of the bunch. 4 rappers (Chali 2na, Soup, Akil, and Marc 7) and two producer-DJs (Lower Chemist, Nu-Mark) who hopped in a time machine and signed to Interscope, the group reinvented and up to date the collaborative party-rocking routines of predecessors just like the Chilly Crush Brothers. Aware, reverent, and uplifting with out being corny, Jurassic 5 moved crowds whereas dispelling L.A. and leisure trade myths on albums like High quality Management.

Impressed by the album cowl for Jethro Tull’s Songs from the Wooden, Nu-Mark envisioned the duvet as a “closeup of a needle on a record stump.” In the long run, the High quality Management cowl picture confirmed the group sitting in the midst of a Los Angeles intersection as automobiles pace previous whereas listening to a tree stump with their “J5” emblem carved into it. The picture encapsulated the group’s “back to the roots” ethos and skill to articulate every part they noticed in L.A. Based on photographer B+, Nu-Mark was upset in regards to the visibility of the file participant tonearm atop the stump. “It’s a complicated thing to be able to do a pretty large group photograph and pull a detail that ostensibly lives in a square inch of the photograph. It was crazy,” B+ informed SPIN. “Keith Tamashiro was the designer and was very much an integral part. In the end, he was the one that helped me to understand Nu-Mark.”

Hearken to the album right here.

good kid, m.A.A.d city album cover

Kendrick Lamar – good child, m.A.A.d metropolis

(2012, artwork path by Kendrick Lamar)

Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album good child, m.A.A.d metropolis is an intense, deeply private bildungsroman. A high-speed trip in a bucket minivan down Rosecrans Ave., many years in Compton seen by means of the eyes of a delicate, poetic, insightful, and conflicted soul. There’s youthful lust, chest-beating automotive freestyles (“Backseat Freestyles”), anti-drinking anthems (“Swimming Pools (Drank)”), unrelenting demons from reminiscence lane (“m.A.A.d city”), and extra. Speaking to FUSE, Lamar known as the album a “self-portrait.”

Fittingly, the album cowl options him as a baby, a snapshot of the world that formed him. Lamar defined its significance finest. “Two of my uncles, that’s two of them, to the far right, that’s my grandpa and a baby bottle next to a 40-ounce next to a gang sign, holding a kid,” Lamar informed FUSE. “It’s not just music to me. This is a story about the youth and the people that they call delinquents in my city. You look in the background and you see a picture on the wall of me and my pops. The eyes blanked out, that’s for my own personal reasons. You’ll probably hear about that in the album, but that photo just says so much about my life and how I was raised in Compton and the things I’ve seen through innocent eyes. You don’t see no one else’s eyes, but you see my eyes of innocence and trying to figure out what’s going on.”

Hearken to the album right here.

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