Our favorite albums and their artwork.

Boldy James, Yung Lean, Estee Nack & more!

Music is more than just the music. While the music itself is the essential element, crafting a timeless album involves a multitude of other factors. Since the inception of the full-length album format, album cover art has become an important part of the music. The cover art gives the music a visual which is important for both the listener as the artist. Seeing the cover art can give you a certain feeling, imagine yourself walking in a record shop. You walk past a section and start browsing through the albums, you don’t know any of the albums but the only thing you can do is see the album covers. Seeing the cover art gives you a feeling whether you should or should not pick the album, whether you should listen to it or not. It actually has a lot of impact on us, it decides if we like the music more or less.

Most of the time, the artist is trying to tell us something with the cover. Explain it’s subjects or express themself as a person. This can help the listener to connect or relate more to the music. Album covers also provide artists with a creative outlet beyond the music itself. Many musicians view album covers as an extension of their artistic expression, allowing them to convey additional layers of meaning, emotion, or symbolism related to the music. This visual element can enhance the overall storytelling aspect of an album, making it a more immersive and multi-dimensional experience for the audience.

We’ve picked a number of album covers we really like. In this article we highlight these albums, explain the music and praise the artwork.

Boldy James – Manger On Mcnichols

Boldy James’ album “Manger on McNichols” s a masterpiece of gritty storytelling and lyrical prowess. Released in 2021, this project showcases Boldy’s unique ability to paint vivid pictures of life on the streets of Detroit, where he hails from.

One of the standout aspects of this album is Boldy James’ impeccable flow and lyrical precision. His words flow like poetry, weaving intricate tales of street life, survival, and personal growth. Boldy’s ability to convey raw emotion and authenticity through his lyrics is nothing short of remarkable. Each track is a snapshot of his life, filled with vivid details that draw listeners into his world.

The production on “The Manger on McNichols” is equally impressive. Collaborating with acclaimed producer Sterling Toles, Boldy James creates a sonic landscape that perfectly complements his storytelling. The beats are moody, atmospheric, and at times haunting, adding depth and dimension to his narratives. The album’s production is a testament to the careful curation of sounds that amplify the album’s themes and emotions. A fun fact about the collaboration between Sterling Toles and Boldy James is that this album was already 10+ years in the making. Sterling Toles used old vocals and produced around them. Most of the instrumentals you hear on the album are so chaotic but well structured at the same time, very impressive.

Now, let’s talk about the cover art. The album’s cover art is a striking and thought-provoking visual representation of the music contained within. On the cover Boldy’s eye is seen through a hole. His eye looks tired and sad. Around the hole are a whole lot of statues. The cover is truly moving and beautiful.

In conclusion, Boldy James’ “The Manger on McNichols” is a remarkable album that stands as a testament to his storytelling prowess and the gritty realities of Detroit life. Its combination of powerful lyrics and evocative production creates an immersive experience for listeners. The cover art, with its haunting imagery, serves as a fitting introduction to the emotional journey that awaits within the album. It’s an album that deserves recognition for its artistic depth and its ability to capture the essence of a place and a life often overlooked.

Yung Lean – Stranger

In the ever-evolving landscape of hip-hop and experimental music, Yung Lean’s “Stranger” album stands out as a testament to the power of raw emotion and artistic evolution. Released in 2017, this album marked a important moment in Yung Lean’s career, showcasing his maturity as an artist and his ability to convey deep feelings through his music. “Stranger” not only delivers a unique auditory experience but also captivates with its mesmerizing cover art.

The album begins with an ethereal soundscape, setting the tone for a journey through Lean’s introspective thoughts and emotions. Yung Lean’s signature melancholic lyrics, combined with hauntingly atmospheric beats, create a sonic landscape that is both mesmerizing and deeply introspective. Tracks like “Red Bottom Sky” and “Agony” encapsulate the core themes of the album, dealing with themes of love, loss, and self-discovery. Lean’s introspection is palpable, drawing listeners into his world and allowing them to connect with the raw emotions he shares.

The cover art, designed by John Trulli, features a striking image of Yung Lean in a dark place, bathed in an eerie, almost mystical light. He stands with his face not visible and shadows of bats everywhere. The imagery is both enigmatic and haunting, mirroring the album’s themes of self-discovery and transformation.

In conclusion, Yung Lean’s “Stranger” album is a masterful work of art that transcends the boundaries of cloud rap and hip-hop. Its emotionally charged lyrics, haunting beats, and Yung Lean’s evolution as an artist make it a standout in his discography. The cover art, with its captivating imagery and symbolism, serves as the perfect visual companion, drawing listeners deeper into the album’s introspective world. “Stranger” is a testament to the power of music to convey complex emotions and is a must-listen for anyone seeking a deeply immersive and transformative musical experience.

Estee Nack- Nacksaw Jim Duggan

Hailing from Lawrence, Massachusetts, Estee Nack is a rapper whose lyrical prowess has earned him a special place in the world of hip-hop. While he’s known for his gritty lyricism and vivid storytelling inspired by his Lawrence upbringing, there’s another layer to his artistry – his deep-rooted Dominican heritage. This fusion of cultures enriches his music, making it a powerful and authentic reflection of his life experiences.

Estee Nack is still a small artist compared to others, but already has made a lot of impact with his music. Estee Nack released 17 projects in the last 8 years. Nack is known for working with artists like: al.divino, V DON, Rome Streetz & Westside Gunn.

As he continues to leave his mark on the hip-hop scene he recently released “Nacksaw Jim Duggan”. It’s evident that Estee Nack’s Dominican roots will remain an integral part of his identity and his art. They serve as a reminder that hip-hop is a universal language, capable of embracing and celebrating the diverse stories and backgrounds of its artists. Estee Nack’s music stands as a testament to the power of culture, heritage, and storytelling in the world of rap..

This album was curated by fellow rapper ‘Westside Gunn’. Westside worked with Nack on this album to release under the Griselda label. The Griselda sound is very present on this album with production from Conductor Williams & Camouflage Monk and more. The album’s title is named after the professional wrestler, Hacksaw Jim Duggan.

The cover art is an painting by Sam Evans. The paining represents Hacksaw Jim Duggan holding an Dominican flag. Hacksaw Jim Duggan is an American wrestler. The cover art looks so great, it is an absolute masterpiece. Westside Gunn is well known for his taste in art and this represents that very well.

Madlib – Low Budget High-Fi Music (Medicine Show #11)

Madlib, the enigmatic and prodigious producer and rapper, is a true icon in the world of underground hip-hop and experimental music. One of his most overlooked series, “Low Budget High-Fi Music” (Medicine Show). This release is number #11 and it is absolutely amazing.

Released as part of his ambitious “Medicine Show” series, which spanned 13 releases, each with its own unique theme and sonic landscape, “Low Budget High-Fi Music” arrived as the eleventh installment in this musical odyssey. In this project, Madlib ventured into the realm of lo-fi production, twisting the pristine and polished sounds that dominate the mainstream for a raw and gritty sonic aesthetic.

What sets “Low Budget High-Fi Music” apart is its deliberate embrace of imperfections. Madlib revels in the crackles of vinyl records, the subtle hiss of analog tape, and the unrefined charm of vintage drum machines. These elements, often considered “flaws” in modern music production, become instruments in Madlib’s hands, enbracing the nostalgic and hypnotic quality of the album.

Madlib’s ability to seamlessly blend genres is on full display in “Low Budget High-Fi Music.” He effortlessly fuses elements of jazz, soul, funk, and even world music, creating a genre-defying experience that challenges traditional notions of hip-hop. Each track unfolds like a sonic collage, where unexpected sounds and textures coexist in perfect harmony.

What makes this release more great is the album cover. Just look at it, an porcupine wearing golden rings with text and having a comb in his hair. Also this cover is in the middle of the woods and it blends so good with the music on the album.

In an era dominated by digital production techniques and cookie-cutter beats, “Low Budget High-Fi Music” serves as a reminder that innovation in music often emerges from embracing imperfections, celebrating the past, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Madlib’s audacious experiment in lo-fi production leaves a lasting impression on those who venture into its hypnotic, gritty, and unapologetically retro world. It stands as a testament to the enduring power of artistic exploration in a rapidly changing musical world.

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