What Is The Best Album Cover Ever?

Some rappers happen to be thoughtful, intelligent people. Every Monday Rocks Off will have some of them here discussing issues relevant to their culture.

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This Week's Panel: Bun B, Lil Flip, Hollywood FLOSS, hasHBrown, Kyle Hubbard, Renzo, Brad Gilmore and Nash White

Not Invited: Kanye, because his presence is present, kiss his ass.

This Week's Prompt: Kanye's proposed album cover for his forthcoming album just got shot down, interesting because it isn't so much controversial as it is just weird and a little creepy (and, depending on who you ask/work for, a little NSFW). Anyway, we're more interested in the good stuff. So, easy breezy: Name your three favorite, or two favorite or one favorite, album covers of all time and why.

Bun B, newly appointed assistant professor, Rice University (right): Eric B and Rakim, Paid In Full. They were cool, rich and not to be played with! Looking at that cover made me wanna rap. Geto Boys, We Can't Be Stopped. The rawest album cover I've ever seen. As real as it gets. Will, Bill and 'Face. Ice T, Power. The front looked like they were just posing, but when you flipped it around you saw they were hiding guns.

Lil Flip: Top three album covers of all time: Mine are Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle, Outkast, Aquemini and Lil Flip, Ahead of My Time.

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Montana: First up, Blueprint 3 [Jay-Z]. That was the best album cover of recent history. Check the YouTube video of how they made it. Second, Graduation [Kanye West]. The guy who drew that is a beast. Third, I'm goin' old school: Abbey Road, the Beattles. It's just a picture, but what a classic picture.

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Hollywood FLOSS: Aquemini. At the time, could've been a comic book and I was heavy into comics at the time, so I would have bought just cause. I Am. Nas changed the game with that one, and had everyone spooked at the same time; dope imagery comparing himself to [King] Tut. Electric Circus is a collage of faces, and I've always been a fan of collages showing what people like. Art of Fiscal Intelligence was supposed to be like that but the graphic designer flaked on me, so I admire Common's.

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hasHBrown: The Roots, Things Fall Apart. This album actually had multiple covers, which isn't done much in hip-hop. The particular cover I chose is a very strong image and can be interpreted to mean different things. One thing that it does do is provoke emotion before you even get to listen to the music.

Kanye West, Graduation. Again, this is actual cover "art," not a rapper posing looking cool on the cover. The bright colors and images speak to a lot of what's going on sonically on this album. Graduation has some huge songs on it and this cover really stands out, as did the album.

Outkast, Aquemini. It's just the illest cover in my opinion. It's a psychedelic painting of two ATLiens, what more do you want? I'd also like to add that Outkast always had a drawing of a naked lady printed on the actual CDs, which was very cool too. I doubt that it's coincidence that one of the best covers was made for one the best albums of all time.

As for Kanye's controversial cover, I think folks should lighten up and allow art to be art. If you want to have an edited version of the cover too, get it in Wal-Mart/Target/Bestbuy, cool. Retailers should just shut up and sell the product, drive business into their locations and not worry about censorship of album art. If we walked the aisles of Wal-Mart right now I bet we could find something offensive to someone.

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