Kendra Gaines November 2nd, 2011

Artistically Inspired Urban Album Covers

Music is probably the number one inspirational source for a lot of artists and designers. Music can express great emotions that will often move its creative listeners to try and capture and convey and those feelings in their own art. Regardless of your favorite genre, music is sometimes key to the creative process. The second greatest part of music for most designers is the album cover and/or packaging. This is the bit that essentially tries to sum up the feel and the message behind all the music on an album; and it also becomes the iconic look for a classic album (think Pink Floyd and Aerosmith, just to name a few). These types of artistically and creatively fueled album covers provide lots of inspiration for various artists. A genre that many people pass over for album cover inspiration is urban music (hip hop, r&b, pop). In those genres, most of the album covers are quick and easy and use some sort of glamour shot of the artist on the cover. Very rarely do you find something that really captures the soul of a project or is artistically charged--there isn't a ton of creativity. Fortunately, we did some digging and have come up with some great looking, artistically inspired urban album covers from famous rap, r&b and pop artists.

The Album Cover Inspiration

9th Wonder - The Wonder Years Cover Artist - Princess Spencer The Airplane Boys - Where've You Been Cover Artist -  Justin 'Create' Toledo of LiveBeauMonde Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh Cover Artist - EMEK The Notorious B.I.G. - Duets: The Final Chapter Cover Artist - Elizabeth Rosen Blake Carrington - Dare to Dream Cover Artist - Deadly Del Mundo Bruno Mars - Doo-Wops & Hooligans Cover Artist - Nick Bilardello Common - Finding Forever Cover Artist - Electric Heat  Flight Distance - Bad Information Cover Artist - Jesse Winchester Fortunate Ones - Sleepless Nights and Numb Hearts Cover Artist - Lou Ros Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere Cover Artist - Kam Tang Headnodic - Red Line Radio Cover Artist - Matt Linares Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey - Race Riot Suite Cover Artist - Peregrine Honig Jay-Z & Linkin Park - Collision Course Cover Artist - The FLEM Kanye West - Graduation Cover Artist -  Takashi Murakami Kosha Dillz - Gina & The Garage Sale EP Cover Artist - Chuck U Mac Miller - Blue Slide Park Cover Artist - Redtape Design 404 Mac Miller - On and On and Beyond Cover Artist - Unknown Michael Jackson - Michael Cover Artist - Kadir Nelson Musiq Soulchild - MusiqInTheMagiq Cover Artist - Nick Bilardello N.E.R.D. -  Seeing Sounds Cover Artist - Jun Hirota Outkast - Stankonia (Limited Edition Cover) Cover Artist - Unknown A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory Cover Artist - Zombart JK Sims -  Bad Time Zoo Cover Artist - The Pressure CunninLynguists - Strange Journey: Volume One Cover Artist - Unknown T.I. - Paper Trail Cover Artist - Ian Wright Travis Barker -  Give the Drummer Some Cover Artist - Pushead Wiz Khalifa - Rolling Papers Cover Artist - Greg Gigendad Burke Jay-Z & Kanye West - Watch The Throne Cover Artist - Ricardo Tisci (rb)

Kendra Gaines

Kendra Gaines is a young freelance designer for Norfolk, VA. Visit her online portfolio at and follow her on twitter @TheGainesColl.


  1. As I was scrolling down the list, I was thinking CunninLynguists’ cover art would fit right in. Didn’t expect to actually see them in the list =]
    Nice to see some underground hip-hop in there.

  2. Oh Kendra… You have the keys to my heart :) What a fantastic way to spice up the standard “inspiration for designers” post format. The Badu album cover looks like it should be on a 12″ vinyl record. Very reminiscent of Spyro Gyra and the artwork they used to release. The Low End Theory is still a favorite cover to this day. Own the vinyl as well…. Fantastic post. Great examples.

  3. Outkast – Stankonia (Limited Edition Cover)
    Cover Artist – Unknown

    If I’m not mistaken Andre 3-Stacks is the cover artist. Dude doesn’t make it known enough that he’s a dope illustrator on the low.

  4. What I really loved is the variety of methods and directions each artist took to represent the music/album. Thanks Kendra great post!

    @SGD-Design – I had no idea 3000 did illustration, I knew he was involved in cartoon series but thought he was just a producer or something. Learn something new everyday.

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