Music may be the driving force that has powered hip-hop over the years, but one aspect of the culture that is as prevalent and important as the beats and rhymes about life is the art inspired by it. Sure, an album or song can be dope, but if the actual artwork on the cover isn't up to snuff, it takes away a bit of the luster and the overall experience. It can also attract a casual listener who may not be familiar with a particular artist or group, but is drawn to the artwork enough to give the music a chance (see Griselda Records' output).

In a genre as competitive as rap, having a dope or intriguing album cover has always been a bragging right, with the top artists in the game going to great lengths to ensure the look of the packaging mirrored the vibe of the music. This attention to detail and artists' willingness to push the envelope has resulted in some of the most eye-popping album covers of all-time, many of which remain unforgettable years beyond being unveiled.

Take Kanye West, for instance. His artsy My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album cover was so graphic that it was censored upon release. Kendrick Lamar made a political statement with To Pimp a Butterfly's stark artwork, which depicts the homies posted up on the White House lawn. Meanwhile, Young Thug implies nudity with his Barter 6 cover art.

From sociopolitical statements to controversial attempts at creating shock-value and everything in between, hip-hop has seen it all and continues to produce compelling artwork from artists looking to carry out their vision.

As you prepare to enter a new decade, XXL looks back at 30 of the most outrageous album covers from the past 10 years that had us all doing double takes.

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