10 Rap Album Cover Cliches We Could Do Without

01
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Rap Album Cover Clichés: The Topless Pose

© Asylum Records

The album cover is the first thing you see when shopping for music. It can sum up an album's concept in one image. In some cases, you may find yourself drawing your first impression from the artwork. So why do so many artists miss a great opportunity to make a strong first impression? Here are 10 album cover clichés to avoid like the plague.

So, here's an opportunity to tell us in one shot why we should buy your album, and you decide to go with a picture of your last Halloween costume (you went as a bum)? Avoid this one, unless your work is a dissertation on the adverse effects of poverty.

02
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Rap Album Cover Clichés: Baby Pictures

© Cash Money/UMG

Nas popularized the baby picture concept on Illmatic. Biggie followed suit on Ready to Die, which prompted the subliminal diss "Shark N***as" on Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Tons of other rappers have mimicked this concept to death.

Pro Tip:

Flip the concept. Instead of a baby pic, go with an oldified photo of yourself.

03
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Rap Album Cover Clichés: Bling! Bling!!

© Def Jam

Rappers are known for excess and ostentatious displays. A 200-man entourage, a sports car in every color, and 10,000 pairs of Jordans? That's just business as usual. But bringing an extra pile of bling to the album cover shoot is just a tad too cliché. Want to stand out? Leave the Jesus Piece at the crib.

04
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Rap Album Cover Clichés: Old English Font

© Koch

History tells us that Old English gained popularity in 12th century Europe when new universities needed books printed quickly and cheaply. The font infiltrated hip-hop covers sometime in the 90s, thanks to the likes of Snoop Dogg and Bone Thugs. Fellas, it's been a good run and I'm sure this sorta thing was considered revolutionary at some point. But it's time to finally lay good Old English to rest.

05
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Rap Album Cover Clichés: The Literal Cover

© 3B Entertainment

When in doubt, avoid a literal rendering of your album cover. In the above example, dude is literally dunking a hoe through a basketball hoop. That's just terrible on so many levels.

06
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Rap Album Cover Clichés: Futuristic

© Atlantic

If done right, the futuristic concept can be a fresh way to grab attention. Then there's the cover of Adventures of Bobby Ray, which looks like he's just incinerated the entire universe while shooting rings of fire from his butt.

07
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Rap Album Cover Clichés: Exposing Underwear

© Domination Recordings

It's quite kind of you to offer, but no I'm not interested in seeing your coke-addled groupie's thong. I've got WorldStarHipHop and TMZ for just that.

08
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Rap Album Cover Clichés: The Fly Ride Pose

© No Limit

I wasn't so sure at first, but now that I see you next to that exotic car, why yes I'd like to buy two copies of your album. Oh, you rich and fancy thing.

09
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Rap Album Cover Clichés: Baby Pictures The Gun Pose

We get it. You're a tough guy, and it's important to assert this on your album cover. And though the gun is supposed to make you look menacing, you just end up looking like an extra from one of those straight-to-DVD hood flicks they sell at Valero.

10
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Rap Album Cover Clichés: The Brooding Face Shot

© Terror Squad

The brooding, close-up face shot is a generic concept. It's what you do when you're trying too hard to look all deep and philosophical.

Pro Tip

: If you insist on going this route, at least make it interesting or mysterious. Go the extra mile. (See: Drake's inverse Warhol-meets-Obama concept on

Thank Me Later

)