For those of you out there that think 50 Cent invented hip-hop, itâ€™s time to recognize. Before â€œrap music,â€ the four main elements of hip-hop were DJing, Bboying, Graffiti and Emceeing. Although these elements do still get represented globally, seldom do mainstream artists pay homage to hip-hopâ€™s core elements and roots. When a rare occurrence does grace the industry, we are reminded of the journey hip-hop has taken from inner city beginnings to a pop culture phenomenon.
Method Man â€“ 4:21
The cover for Method Manâ€™s 4:21 epitomizes hip-hopâ€™s art element by basing its entirety on graffiti. The title 4:21 is formed by two steel like structures and along the sides of the numbers are vibrant tags that state â€œthe day after,â€ Method Man and the names of his fellow Wu peers. The background consists of a building silhouette and atop it lays â€œMethod Man,â€ tagged in black, so fresh that the paint is seen dripping from each of the letters. Most covers that include graffiti consist of a simple tag, so Methâ€™s graffiti heavy art stands out as the burner amongst the rest.
De La Soul – De La Mixtape
The DJ has long been an important music entity and the days of the rookie trailing behind him with crates full of the latest singles is a past time that will forever be engrained in Hip Hop culture so it is inevitable that the album cover for De La Mixtape serves as a tribute. The cover resembles a piece straight from an artistâ€™s sketchbook. It displays a drawn mixer atop a milk crate with De La vinyls spilling out the mouth. The electric green backdrop is decorated with spray paint splatters across the back and serves as a subtle homage to taggers.
Black Star – Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star
While hip-hop has become a multicultural phenomenon its origins lay in Black music, so it is only natural that Kweli and Mos would use a boom box to emulate the Black Star persona on the cover of their self-titled album. The cover displays the faces of Black Star etched in the amber sunset above a sea of green faces. Beneath the block lettered Black Star title is a white outlined blaring boom box with radiant orange stars within the speakers and the entire cover is enclosed in a geometric border. The warm colors of the cover art bring a more euphoric appreciation for music as opposed to the darker tones found in many LP covers.
Gang Starr – The Ownerz
Gang Starr complements their classic material with classic elements in their cover for The Ownerz LP. The cover is completely black and white with the exception of a few elements in different hues strategically placed to bring the attention across the cover. DJ Premier and Guru stand affront a Gang Starr laden gate with posts made of speaker like bricks. The album title is tagged on a blank label and escapes from the left side of the cover along with assorted stickers and labels. Music and the art are both exemplified in this cover which recognizes hip-hopâ€™s many elements.
Jurassic 5 – Feedback
The cover of Jurassic 5â€™s Feedback is simplistic, yet eye-catching. The multi-level equalizer, brightly arranged on the black background represents the ever prominent music elements of hip-hop. Within each column are the sketched faces of the group next to the block lettered Jurassic 5 emblem. Although rap was the last element developed in hip-hop, its mainstream appeal has made it the most visible and the Feedback cover embodies its significance.