The Stories Behind 5 Iconic Rap Album Covers!

Album covers are works of art in themselves and these rap LPs have more than meets the eye!

The makings of a good album cover are subjective, but some still stand out among the rest. Ripe with subtle symbolism, or just an impactful visual statement, these are five rap records that have your attention before you even press play.

Madvillainy (Madvillain/MF DOOM, 2004)


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It’s pretty damn simple – just the man himself.  But, like King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King, that intimidating face speaks volumes on its own. That orange square on the top right? A sly reference to Madonna’s self-titled album and its identical color scheme.

To Pimp a Butterfly (Kendrick Lamar, 2015)


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Another black-and-white masterpiece – a black family gathering in celebration on the White House lawn. It’s a fitting scene for Kendrick, one of the most socially-conscious rappers in the game today. His triumphant moments – performing atop a police car, winning a Pulitzer – echo what this cover is presenting.

Astroworld (Travis Scott, 2018)


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Since the album was planned as a tribute to a theme park that played a big role in Scott’s early life, it makes sense that the cover for Astroworld looks the way it does. Travis’ golden head welcomes you to a world of whimsy where anything’s possible, a fitting match for the album’s eclectic sound.

Kids See Ghosts (2018)


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Japanese artist Takashi Murakami came up with this abstract design for the collaboration between Kid Cudi and Ye. It calls back to the classic art of Hokusai, with a representation of Mt. Fuji in the background. It’s at once an ancient relic and a modern statement that could hang in a Calabasas mansion.

The Low End Theory (A Tribe Called Quest, 1991)


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This one’s a classic – in age and impact. Of course, it’s got a timeless cover to match – of a kneeling woman, portrayed in a Matisse-like fashion. The color scheme uses the Afrocentric palette of red, black, and green – it’s a sort of precursor to the empowering artwork of Black Lives Matter and drives home the album’s positive vibes and messages of black unity.

About the Author

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Tyler Roland

Tyler Roland, originally from Darien, Connecticut, is one of Loyola Marymount University’s rising seniors. He has ample experience in writing in everything from various school publications to the popular satire site Hard Times. An English major and music enthusiast, he enjoys driving his 1978 Porsche 928 in his spare time.