As Jay Rock prepares to release Follow Me Home, fans are already expecting a West Coast classic. There are many different aspects of a classic album. Of course, the music is the deciding factor, but powerful imagery can be just as important. A controversial or impactful album cover can become a classic on its own, and has the ability to stick with fans for years.
For Follow Me Home, Jay Rock stuck with a simple photograph, but it speaks volumes of the music within. Jay Rock’s story is what drives Follow Me Home, and from the front steps of his home to the cover of XXL, he has been preparing to share it. The photograph is a throwback to the days of gangsta rap album covers that only served as a means to represent a city or particular neighborhood. The cover for Follow Me Home is humble and proud all at the same time. With a focus on memorable hip hop albums, we took a look back at five classic album covers, and what made them so significant.
Eminem: The Slim Shady LP
Eminem’s major label debut, The Slim Shady LP, set the stage for the Detroit MC to flip off conservative America and deliver one of the most violent and vulgar releases at the time. Playing off one of the album’s most shocking tracks, “97 Bonnie & Clyde”, the cover depicts the MC with his daughter as they stand at the edge of a pier with what is presumably his wife’s body in the trunk of their car. The image was just a taste of what the album had to offer.
Armed with his signature growls and aggressive delivery, DMX dropped Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood in the same year as his major label debut. Showcasing his affinity for religious and violent undertones, the MC appeared on the cover soaked in blood. The album cover initially sparked criticism for its violent message, which only fueled sales of the album.
Redefining an entire era of rap, N.W.A. stormed the music industry with violence, explicit content, and a hate for all things authorative. Their debut album, Straight Outta Compton, shaped gangsta rap and became the catalyst for change in West Coast music. Brandishing a gun right on the cover, Eazy-E was out to make a statement, and with songs like “F**k Tha Police”, N.W.A. was cemented as one of the most hardcore rap groups to ever come out.
Public Enemy: Yo! Bum Rush The Show
The debut album from Public Enemy sought to not only shock white America, but also deliver its message of inner city angst, which was represented by frontman Chuck D. Simple in its delivery, the album cover depicts the members gathered around a turntable, ready to carry out their mission by any means necessary.
Jay-Z: Reasonable Doubt
Noted as Jay-Z’s crowning achievement, Reasonable Doubt is regarded as one of hip hop’s true classic albums. Critically acclaimed for its storytelling and mafia undertones, the now famous photograph shot by John Mannion was meant to embody the high class and cinematics expressed on the album.
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