2016 has given us some great hip-hop albums. Along with the perfectly executed bars, there's stellar creative direction to match — and in some cases, the creativity exceeded expectations.

Many of the most eye-catching album covers this year featured animals. On D.R.A.M.'s debut album, Big Baby D.R.A.M., he invited his dog, Idnit, to star in the cover shoot. DJ Khaled split the cover art for Major Key with a more ferocious furry friend, a male lion. Similarly, singer 6LACK shared his cover art for FREE 6LACK with a dangerous member of the animal kingdom, a black bear, while sitting peacefully on a bedside.

And if it wasn't animals, it was eye-catching technicolor animation that drew listeners in to the rapper's audio storylines. Aesop Rock chose to convey his latest album, The Impossible Kidwith cartoon cover art that looked like something out of a ghoulishly intriguing bedtime story. The Flatbush Zombies fashioned themselves into dragon-winged superheroes for their debut album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey, courtesy of Marvel Comics artist David Nakayama.

In a world saturated with visuals, the cover of an album is just as important as the music it represents. These 20 album covers represent the cream of the crop. Keep in mind, this list excludes cover art for EPs and mixtapes. Shout-out to all the visual artists, animators, creative directors and graphic designers who brought the music to life with these amazing covers.

Which one of these covers will go down in rap history next to the likes of Boogie Down Production's By All Means Necessary, DMX's Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood and Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III? Take a look in the gallery above and be the judge.

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