I know what you’re thinking. What the fuck is katiebakes doing posting hip hop cover images? Does she even know who Big Bear is? [ed note: No.]
You can rest easy: I came to this retrospective of Pen & Pixel cover graphics via the whitest and uncoolest route possible: the comments in Rob Walker’s Murketing blog.
Allow me to explain. Walker (he of the Consumed column in the NYT Mag) wrote a great post on what he refers to as the “Cash Money aesthetic” - the garish, crudely photoshopped images flecked with Versaille levels of gold and found on album covers, concert invites, and the like. His point? That the work has a “distinct graphical identity” and a “coherant visual language.”
An Alert Commenter (Dave Barry and Pen & Pixel references in one piece? Ramble On Rose ushers in this post-race society even better than Obama can!) links to this This Recording-esque magnum opus on Pen & Pixel, or, as he calls it, “the John Waters of the hip hop album art world.”
Go read it. I really can’t recommend it highly enough. Go now, shoo! just for observations like:
- This is just a cornucopia of photo-shopped crappiness. Pyramids sit next to crashed space shuttles. Vultures stalk used Chevy Cavaliers. Mysterious floating direction signs. The secrets of the Illuminati can be discerned from studying the mysteries of this cover.
- What I’m particularly enamored with is the font for the album title. It looks as if they completely forgot to place it in the original design and had to quickly stamp it over on top the album, in order for it to be not a self-titled Silkk the Shocker CD. No one needs that.
- I haven’t the slightest clue who Lil’ Sin is, nor do I know why he is so frustrated by death but this cover is one of the most amazing things ever released for commercial consumption.
There’s more, so very much more. (The album cover above? “The Sistine Chapel of the Genre.”)
AND, AS A SPECIAL BONUS (I know I rubbed my eyes in disbelief) the founder of Pen & Pixel drops by the comments to drop some knowledge. (I’m sure with the right accent, you could turn that into a rap lyric. Get on dat.)