Hip-hop is rooted in sampling and remixing pop culture. That ethos often extends to its visual elements as well. Every year brings a fresh crop of album covers that are clearly built from various sources, and 2022 is no different.
Metro Boomin’s Heroes & Villains riffs on Storm Thorgerson’s artwork for Pink Floyd’s 1975 album Wish You Were Here. (It’s not yet clear who designed the Metro Boomin cover.) While the former depicts two stuntmen portraying doppelgangers, Metro Boomin seemingly greets an immolated version of an actor closely resembling himself.
Joey Bada$$’s 2000 nods back to his debut mixtape, 2012’s 1999, which remains his most acclaimed project. The former, designed by Joey and Chike Ozah, shows youth at play in New York’s streets. The mirror image of 2000 finds Joey Bada$$ has grown into a successful rap scion, stunting in front of a bodega with jewelry and designer threads.
Much like Joey Bada$$ 1999 and 2000, Cormega’s 2001 debut and 2022 sequel illustrate the passage of time. But this time, the effect is different. Rather than depicting Cormega’s financial come up, the images show his growth and age. Two decades ago, David Corio’s photograph revealed a young man navigating Queensbridge’s streets. Today, he’s a forty-something rap vet, reminiscing and measuring his distance from a gloried past.
Czarface often take inspiration from classic comics imagery. For their album Czarmageddon!, Lamour Supreme riffs on Mike Zeck and Terry Austin’s memorable cover for issue 10 of the 1984 mini-series Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars.
Boldy James and Nicholas Craven’s Fair Exchange No Robbery interpolates an unusual source: Decacer’s market design for its Pure Maple Syrup product. It’s a nod to Quebecois producer Craven’s Canadian roots.
Hus Kingpin has built momentum over the past few years by building projects themed around pop iconography like Portishead (Portishus) and 90s supermodels (the Threesome series). Still, modeling My Beautiful Dark Wave Fantasy after Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy seems like a bold move, given West’s current persona non grata status in polite society.