A New Book Celebrates Mixtape Covers
Though the mixtape feels most at home on dirty curb-side blankets in one of the five boroughs, we have to go all the way to Sweden to find the first comprehensive book on the art of the hip-hop mixtape cover. Tobias Hansson and Michael Thorsby have written just that, titled Damn Son Where Did You Find This?: A Book About U.S. Hip-Hop Mixtape Cover Art. Published on Swedish press La Vida Locash, the book contains extensive interviews with five different graphic designers: Skrilla, KidEight, Miami Kaos, Mike Rev and Tansta, as well as prints of their work. Through these interviews and carefully curated histories, Damn Son does its best to trace the complicated history of art in the rap world, which becomes even more splintered and sophisticated when the focus is shifted to the unofficial world of mixtapes. Unencumbered by censors or copyright laws, the format often features rappers grafted onto recognizable pop culture landmarks, in movie posters and on and on.
Where some of the artists interviewed favor decidedly modern tools--Photoshop and other software less recognizable to the layman--others prefer old standards like pen and paper. One of the things Damn Son (which borrows its name from the iconic Trap-a-Holics drop) aims to convey is this diversity of work, the boundless nature of mixtapes and their packaging and presentation. Though it may be tough to track down a copy domestically, it just might be worth the international shipping.
The New York Times examines the book, read it here.