Drake’s album art for Nothing Was The Same sparked some of the most intense and hilarious conversations about a single record’s cover art since… well, probably since the last Drake record. The Canadian rapper simply has a knack for picking imagery that will tantalize, provoke and enrage his many fans—and detractors.
Beyond the memes, the jokes and the question of whether or not Drake was paying tribute to Biggie, the Nothing Was The Same cover also tapped into a tradition that’s been an essential part of hip-hop since its beginning: graphic art. Visual art, particularly graffiti, has always been an integral part of hip-hop, and as the music has evolved, so has the art work, with many performers crafting striking images that pay tribute to the past while pushing the form forward.
From violent cartoons of samurai sword wielding warriors to desolate sci-fi landscapes to Japanese inspired fantasies, rap album covers have always had a larger than life sensibility that fits with the larger than life narratives found on the records. In honor of Drake’s controversial cover choice, we selected 20 great rap album covers that use graphic art in a cartoon-like manner. Check it out—nothing will be the same when you finish.