Recent Rhymesayers signee and the star of album covers such as Death of a Frequent Flier and Bio: Chemistry I and II, special guest writer Psalm One breaks down the album art of ladies that rock the mic.
These days you gotta make a special effort to actually go to the store and get an artistâ€™s artwork and liner notes. At least that apple-shaped powerhouse of digital music downloads and the like provides jpegs of album covers. But this isnâ€™t a rant about technologyâ€“naturally, I digressâ€“it is a critical commentary/good old-fashioned clownery of some well-known album covers. Coincidentally, we are dealing with all female rap artists here as well. Iâ€™m giggling alreadyâ€¦
Lil Kim – Hardcore
I think Lil Kimâ€™s Hardcore album art was discussed more than the actual album. And who could forget the poster? I think I know about a dozen guys who still give it hang-time on their walls. She was dropping down and doing the â€œeagleâ€ before Nelly asked us to. Ahead of her time, really. Also extremely iconic in the progression of the female image in rap in the late ’90s. I filled garbage cans with vomit considering her as the new Queen of the genre. Excuse me, Queen â€œBee,” lest we forget. I can tell you, though, Biggie knew what he was doing. He also wrote some choice lyrics for her, which made the music tolerable, at least when you didnâ€™t think about what she was saying. Howeverâ€¦ Okay, really. Whose house was that? Was it Bigâ€™s? Cuz thatâ€™s a bachelor pad nightmare, to say the least. The bear with the bear skin rug? But I guess sheâ€™s presenting her goods enough so one tends to overlook the interior decorating. She went platinum with this one, right? I guess the only thing funnier would be the intro to the album.
Lady of Rage – Necessary Roughness
Since Iâ€™ve been rocking the afro puff strong for the last little minute, Iâ€™m gonna have to go with a gem: Lady of Rageâ€™s Necessary Roughness. Suge put this one out, huh? Badass. All I knows is she had, and still has, fans checking for her and is arguably one of the best female emcees, if you consider loads of top ten lists to that affect. â€œAfro Puffsâ€ was, of course, the jam. She was lyrical, strong with her voice, not necessarily in a masculine way, and a perfect fit with the Dogg Pound. Although in the cover I cannot tell what sheâ€™s holding â€“ maybe some weird dominatrix thing or something? Anyway, I remember Rage having a nice little bit of thickness on her, which is probably why she wasnâ€™t bikini-clad in the cover. But sheâ€™s pretty and has that â€œstay over yonderâ€ stare that would make most think twice before approaching. Very key. Very slept on album.
Salt-N-Pepa – Very Necessary
They were on some shit, werenâ€™t they? â€œShoopâ€ as the lead single, â€œWhatta Man,” which was one of the illest R&B/Rap combos ever (not to mention one of the sexiest videos ever), â€œNone of Your Businessâ€ â€“ which I still like to sing to this day â€“ and the whole AIDS awareness motif? This was the one, right here. I had already adored Salt-N-Pepa from the â€œPush Itâ€ days, but they were all over the place with this album, and the cover was simple ’90s flava complete with a flannel grunge nod. Were they at the carnival? The boardwalk? It doesnâ€™t matter. You could tell this group was still growing and really caring about what they were feeding us. And with all the sex talk youâ€™d think they wouldnâ€™t be rocking coats in the cover art. Smart. I also dig the font used in the cover. Very Microsoft Word art. Brilliant.
Missy Elliott – Supa Dupa Fly
I wonder how the cover art photo shoot for Missyâ€™s Supa Dupa Fly went. Itâ€™s very much stock-picturesque to me, but I simply love the outfit. Maybe a few phillies beforehand? Naughty, naughty. This was my favorite Missy album for a long time as well â€“ actually, when I think more, it still is. She was a bit heavier in the loins, too, earlier in her career, so she definitely wasnâ€™t showing too much skin, but her steez didnâ€™t dictate doing so. Sheâ€™s an all-around artist and was coming with much heat that many would say was ahead of her time (thanks in part to Timbaland). Another simple album cover that definitely didnâ€™t give any aspiring female artists the wrong idea about sex in the industry. Plus, I can listen to this album all the way through, which is tough for me. One might say I can be a little critical. Anyway, okay album cover, great album. I listen to it on the road all the time.
Bahamadia – Kollage
I get all warm in the tummy when I see Bahamadiaâ€™s Kollage. In high school this album meant a lot to me, and to a lot of hip hop heads. I donâ€™t know about the expression on her face, but the design is pretty good and I like the color, aesthetically. The album is her classic, in my opinion, and Iâ€™m still checking for her. I love her voice and her lyrics, and she was my female rap idol when this album was being bumped. Some female emcees might say she was holding it down for us for a long-ass time. Plus, sheâ€™s on damn near everyoneâ€™s Top Ten Female Rap Artist list. Now, if she could only get on someoneâ€™s Top Ten Rap Artist list, but thatâ€™s another topic, ainâ€™t it?
Psalm One – Bio: Chemistry
Far be it for me not to mention myself. Psalm Oneâ€™s Bio:Chemistry 1 was her crappiest artwork. Very dark color which made it a little hard to look at, but the fonts and the overall design were good. The picture was cool because she took it during her actual lunch break at the laboratory she worked at in college, and the photographer was a cutie. Ha. I definitely do dig her name looking like elements, though. Thatâ€™s just the nerd in me. Pretty damn good album, too. But, truly, what was going on with her hair?
Psalm One’s Album Art Philosophy
Now, I ainâ€™t no graphic designer or photographer or anything like that, but I do know what it is I look for in developing my own artwork. Itâ€™s simplicity â€“ good color, good placement, very good photography and some sort of tie-in to the overall album as a musical piece. I also like to, if possible, look as cute as possible. No guns, well, mostly. No bikini. No bullshit. Thank you again for your time. Keep checking for me. Peace.