When a remarkable album is released into the universe, there are many different factors that come together to contribute to its positive reception and long-lasting impact. These days, a lot of hype around a project has to do with its rollout—artists tend to get creative in teasing a series of singles, concept art and videos to build anticipation. What also contributes to an album’s grandeur is its thematic cohesiveness. Simply speaking, is there an overarching idea that spans across the record?
The worldbuilding and storytelling the artist employs in their music is vital to creating a full-fledged experience for the listener. But perhaps the most important part of an album aside from the musical quality is the visual imagery that represents it. You guessed it, we’re talking about the album cover. Great, some may even say legendary, album covers will play the part of tying a seamless bow around its contents. With enough thought put into it, the cover will encapsulate the album’s themes, messages, sounds and pass the test of timelessness. In short, album covers can make or break the longevity of a body of work.
There are hundreds of iconic, instantly-recognizable covers out there that make a powerful statement all on their own. Here, we wanted to specifically highlight both classic and modern hip-hop album cover tattoos. Whether it be the pensive gaze of Ms. Lauryn Hill on “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” Murakami’s iced-out bear on Kanye’s “Graduation,” or MF DOOM’s unmistakable mask on “Madvillainy,” all of these faces and characters represent an artist’s radical vision, as well as their legacy reaching far and wide past the square box on your screen or inside your CD. Is there any album cover art that you’d want to get inked?