Hip-Hop Sgt. Pepper’s – The Cover Art

by

Here is the cover art for my mix of The 20 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums Of All-Time. My post on April 19th contains the liner notes for this mix.

It’s important to note that this artwork was created for a friends-and-family mix only and is NOT for sale in any form. I’m not profiting off of this art in any way and it is completely a labor of love. Please see below for my notes about the making of this image.

Here’s the front cover:
cover025_retouched_web.jpg

For comparison:
Pepper's - album

And here’s the insert:
hip-hop-insert_tabs2-web.jpg

Compare and contrast:

Front cover gatefold:
hiphop-frontcover-web.jpg

The OG:
Pepper's back

Inside gatefold with a ‘who’s who’:
hip-hop-insidefront-web.jpg

hiphop-key1-web.jpg

Who’s Who (& What’s What) on the cover:

1 – James Brown
2 – Jack Johnson
3 – Booker T. Washington
4 – Richard Pryor
5 – Julius Erving (aka Dr. J)
6 – Bruce Lee
7 – Gil Scott Heron
8 – Miles Davis
9 – Langston Hughes
10 – George Clinton
11 – Malcolm X
12 – Martin Luther King, Jr. (painted over by gangsta rappers)
13 – Al Pacino (as Tony Montana)
14 – Robert Beck (aka Iceberg Slim)
15 – Eldridge Cleaver
16 – Lovebug Starski
17 – Mr. Magic
18 – Slick Rick
19 – Kool Moe Dee
20 – Grand Wizard Theodore
21 – Too $hort
22 – Grandmaster Caz
23 – Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest)
24 – Spoonie Gee
25 – LL Cool J
26 – Kurtis Blow
27 – DJ Charlie Chase (Cold Crush Brothers)
28 – Master Gee (Sugar Hill Gang)
29 – Big Bank Hank (Sugar Hill Gang)
30 – Wonder Mike (Sugar Hill Gang)
31 – Biz Markie
32 – Busy Bee
33 – Afrika Bambaataa
34 – Ice-T
35 – Rick Rubin
36 – Russell Simmons
37 – Rakim Allah (Eric B. & Rakim)
38 – Fab Five Freddy
39 – Flavor Flav (Public Enemy)
40 – Chuck D. (Public Enemy)
41 – Old Dirty Bastard (Wu Tang Clan)
42 – Method Man (Wu Tang Clan)
43 – Andre ’3000′ Benjamin (Outkast)
44 – Antwan ‘Big Boi’ Patton (Outkast)
45 – Sir Mix-A-Lot
46 – Jay-Z
47 – Afrika Baby Bam (Jungle Brothers)
48 – Kanye West
49 – Tupac Shakur
50 – Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls)
51 – Erick Sermon (EPMD)
52 – B Real (Cypress Hill)
53 – Snoop Doggy Dogg
54 – Dr. Dre
55 – Ice Cube
56 – Easy E.
57 – Adam Yauch (Beastie Boys)
58 – Adam Horowitz (Beastie Boys)
59 – Mike Diamond (Beastie Boys)
60 – Cee-Lo Green
61 – Muhammad Ali
62 – Josh Davis (aka DJ Shadow)
63 – dk (Getting hyphy at age 5)
64 – Raymond ‘Boots’ Riley (The Coup)
65 – 50 Cent
66 – Daryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels (Run-DMC)
67 – Jason ‘Jam Master Jay’ Mizell (Run-DMC)
68 – Joseph ‘DJ Run’ Simmons (Run-DMC)
69 – dk
70 – (obscured) DJ Q-bert
71 – Eminem
72 – Lyrics Born
73 – Prince Paul
74 – Timbaland
75 – Kid Creole (Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five)
76 – Grandmaster Flash
77 – Scorpio (Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five)
78 – Melle Mel (Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five)
79 – Joseph ‘Run’ Simmons (Run-DMC)
80 – Jason ‘Jam Master Jay’ Mizell (Run-DMC)
81 – Daryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels (Run-DMC)
82 – Empire State Building (for scale)
83 – Nas
84 – Marion ‘Suge’ Knight
85 – Lil’ Kim
86 – Sonny Liston
87 – Masta Blasta (‘Homies’ figurine)
88 – James Brown ‘Sex Machine’ LP
89 – Incredible Bongo Band ‘Bongo Rock’ LP
90 – Hennessy
91 – DJ Kool Herc (The original DJ)
92 – Boombox
93 – Ice Cold (‘Homies’ figurine)
94 – Missy Elliott
95 – Wilson basketball
96 – Purple Erkel (ganja)
97 – Microphone
98 – Discman with headphones
99 – Handgun
100 – Sub Pop Bionic (‘Homies’ figurine)

I’m sensing a trend:
Pepper's diagram

Back:
hiphop-backcover-web.jpg

And here are the notes about the making of the cover:

A Few Words About The Cover Art

“If I had a million dollars, I’d do a hip-hop version of the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s.” Those were the words that launched me on the way to creating the album cover you hold in your hands (thankfully, it ended up costing exponentially less than that). After saying the above out loud, I took a few days to think about how it might be done. Then I meditated on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s, and pulled apart each detail in my mind to figure out how I could put it back together. It ended up being the coolest jigsaw puzzle I’ve ever assembled.

When I first thought this up, I was convinced that somebody, somewhere had done it, and I would easily find ten different versions of it on the Internet. I’m still thinking that somebody has done this (surely it can’t be left to a white boy copywriter from Oregon to pull this off), but I can’t find it out there on the Imagination Superhighway, so I did a DIY thing (to the F-ing max, if I do say so) and made it happen. I kept waiting for the big hurdle that I wouldn’t be able to get over, but it never showed itself.

BIG CAVEAT here: I was pretty slow at work for most of January, so I basically had 8 hours a day (give or, usually, take) and access to a Canon color fiery. Also, I’ve got mad collage skillz (my grandmas would be so proud), so the most daunting part of the cover (the top third, with all the heads), was pretty much a piece of cake. I got really good at cutting out little heads. Some of my co-workers accused me of taking up origami. Little did they know…

This project was a fantastic learning experience for me, and I could never have even come close to figuring out who might deserve to be on something like this without the writings of Jeff Chang, Nelson George, and countless others. Also, until Ronny Knight and Mark Adams took the picture, this thing was a 3D piece of art (and yes, less than 1% of this was done in Photoshop) that wouldn’t have fit in a jewel case. Ronny’s an amazing shooter, and I was lucky to have someone like him to lean on. Anthony Landgraf generously helped with the post-production work on the photo, as well as the graffiti lettering in the center of the photo. John Reid created the drawing for the key on the inside. In other words, this was not a solo project.

My wife has offered a lot of thoughtful critique while no doubt simultaneously making arrangements with the local mental health authorities. Also, those breathtakingly cute little flower shapes that embellish the lower half of the cover were her handiwork. Most spouses would have shot an idea like this down in about 10 seconds. My amazing wife not only supported me the whole way through the process, she played a large part in making it happen.

There were many happy accidents that occurred while I was putting this puzzle together. I never imagined I’d ever think something like “Kurtis Blow and Marilyn Monroe have the same hair!” – but there you have it. Also, covering Sonny Liston (the only black person by my count on the original cover) with a cutout of Ali flooring Liston felt pretty damned good. Richard Pryor fit snugly over Lenny Bruce’s original spot, in more ways than one. Ice-T’s cop hat grazing Scarface and Iceberg Slim (the man who inspired Ice-T’s name) was also a nice touch. Jay-Z’s oversized head, Andre 3000’s cowboy hat, Erick Sermon’s peace sign, George Clinton’s red hat, Prince Paul/Marlene Deitrich’s sneer… there are tons of other little coincidences like this, and I invite you to find them all for yourself.

I would never in a million years have considered putting myself in something like this, until I read about the making of the original Sgt. Pepper’s cover and discovered that designer Peter Blake included 4 dressmaker’s dummies in the photo cover shoot. In this version, I play the part of the dummies.

There were, of course, lots of really significant artists I had to leave out – my apologies to all of them. It would take ten times the amount of space I had to make room for everyone that has contributed to the vibrancy of the genre. I tried to be as representative as possible, and I structured the collage so it flows from influences (top row) through old school, the golden age, and into the new school (whatever that means). In other words, I tried to create a visual schematic of the history of hip-hop.

I love the Beatles, but the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s is oppressively lily white. The thing I most love about this idea is that it flips the script on the original color scheme, while providing a perfect framework to honor the people that have made hip-hop a worldwide institution. What I’ve done here is akin to visual sampling – taking little pieces of some other reality and working them together to form a whole new context.

Not unlike the work of a lot of the little heads on the front of this album. My deepest respect and appreciation to each of them.

dk

“There’s 3 of us/But we’re not the Beatles” – Run-DMC

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66 Responses to “Hip-Hop Sgt. Pepper’s – The Cover Art”

  1. Akio Says:

    Holy crap. This is incredible.

    Salud!

  2. dj_bj Says:

    brilliant.

  3. Kdubbie Says:

    Dan, I think this confirms for the rest of the world what we already knew: that you’re a feckin’ GENIUS.
    Nicely done.

  4. Dooley Watcher Says:

    YOU da man! Brilliant idea, and great execution. I like the music as well. I’m not sure if it’s Mexico sailing music, but it’s gonna be anyway!!

  5. Dan Says:

    I’m a bit stunned! As an old, white coot of 52, I recognize almost the whole list. I loved the original Sgt. Pepper’s, and this is very cool. Well done.

  6. The Ell Eff Says:

    Love yo’ shit, bit I gotta say there needs to be some Slum Village in there. Or at least a pic of J Dilla!

    Out….

    Keep doing what you do x

  7. Kerry Says:

    Holding it down for the Beaver State. No doubt homie.

  8. Cousin An - jee - low Says:

    Dan K -

    Cousin T – I – M sent me the links to your amazing Sgt. Pepper’s montage/homage/collage. I am dumbfounded, not only by the gorgeous result, but moreso by the talent that went into the creation of this masterpiece. Truly staggering & phenomenal. When word gets out about this, I suspect you will be bombarded with accolades, approbations, honors, and offers. What a labor of love, what a unique artistic vision given life. You, your lovely bride, and your other co-conspirators are to be commended for crafting such a brilliant piece. Nuttin’ more to say, `cept that I’m treating you to adult libations next time our paths cross. Been far too long, amigo. Abundant blessings be upon you & all your endeavors………….

    Namaste,

    ~ Cousin Angelo

  9. Dom Dada Says:

    First off: Fantatstic.

    I’m not aware that this particular idea has yet been done before, but Common’s “Electric Circus” and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Midnight Marauders” have a somewhat similar approach – on a smaller scale.

  10. zk Says:

    great job on this project. incredible work
    (found you thru soulsides)

  11. Ngadutrafik 2007 Says:

    I Love This MUSIC !!! :)
    thanks for your post

    Best Regards…
    ngadutrafik

  12. joe Says:

    This is way cool.

  13. Hip-Hop Sgt. Pepper's - The Cover Art « dkpresents… « Social Orb Says:

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  14. gamerconor Says:

    lol

  15. Top Posts « WordPress.com Says:

    [...] Hip-Hop Sgt. Pepper’s – The Cover Art Here is the cover art for my mix of The 20 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums Of All-Time. My post on April 19th contains the […] [...]

  16. links - 4.28 « my fucking sound Says:

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  17. Cokni Says:

    BULLET! BULLET! BULLET! That’s totally wikkid!!!

  18. missunderfire Says:

    You are with out a doubt my long lost best friend lol, I love what your doing! but what about the reggae heads? there a lot of artist who speak the truth Buju, Luciano, Peter Tosh, Mr. Vegas…PoS!T!vE

  19. paniczone Says:

    Brilliant.
    Your choices also indicate a wicked sense of humour.
    I’d say if you used Photoshop it would’ve almost been twice as hard.
    So congratulations on a job well done.

    Oops, no J.Dilla? Oh well…

  20. Matt Says:

    Very nice. How about some high res pix? Seems a shame od do all that work when i can’t see the details.
    Word.

  21. Kool Herc’s Lonely Hearts Club Band : The Couch Sessions Says:

    [...] out the full post and info here. Much props to this dude, whoever he is. (from Soul Sides, where the haters are taking over the [...]

  22. Loise Says:

    Hi there, and bravo!
    I work for a musical blog (www.vibrationsmusic.com, french speaking), and i wish i could get a picture of your Hip Hop Sgt Pepper cover so i can write about your work… Would that be possible?
    Please! That’d be so nice.

  23. dkpresents Says:

    Hey I just wanted to take a minute and catch up on the comments here:

    1) THANK YOU to everyone who has left a kind word about this. I really appreciate the positive feedback, and I’m excited that so many people have had a chance to see this. If you like it, please pass the word along…

    2) Matt, I feel your pain, and I’m working on it. Unfortunately, WordPress has a pixel-width limit, so there’s only so high the resolution of the photo can go on this site. I’m frantically working on getting my own website up and running, and it will include full-sized PDF’s of all (about 25 and counting) my mixes so that you can download, print, and put together your own copies of them. My site should be ready to go in about 2 weeks, and I will post that address on my blog when it’s ready, so please check back.

    3) Loise, I will try to get in touch with you through your blog. I’d be delighted for you to write about this, so please look for my e-mail. If you haven’t heard anything from me in a couple of days, please post your e-mail address in this section and I will delete it after I’ve contacted you. Thanks for your interest in this.

    Thanks again to everyone for all of the great feedback…

    • Alan Says:

      This is brilliant, the sort of thing you think would be cool but don’t imagine someone would actually be able to do. I’d love this as a desktop wallpaper do you have a high resolution version I could download? Would really appreciate it. Thanks, Alan.

  24. thelarge Says:

    not much to add to all the comments above, but respect, this is awesome…

  25. Jasmine Says:

    This is great.

  26. Rob Says:

    Hi
    I’d love to write about this fantastic piece in WORD magazine. Could you drop me a line?

    thanks

    Rob

  27. vibrationsmusic.com : hip hop: la cover de Sgt. Pepper détournée Says:

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  28. sime Says:

    yo, sickness. you got some discipline son!

  29. Tricia Says:

    This is sick. fabulous. Fabulously sick. And the added bonus for me is that you included Langston Hughes (only b/c he’s my favorite poet). Where the hell else would I see him, Eldridge Cleaver and Biggie all in one shot? Man. Fabulous. Astounding. Fabulously astounding. I had to give it up to the talent. Geezus.

  30. NetInfoWeb 2.0: Soul, R&B, Jazz and Blues on the ‘Net » links for 2007-05-04 Says:

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  31. ballawade Says:

    Thanks for the information!
    It was helpful!
    If anyone wants more information on cricket check out this blog
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  32. Ricky Says:

    I’m loving this album….please let me know when can I buy it. The wunway boyz will thank you

  33. jkg Says:

    i cant thank you enough for this. maybe i was skimming to loosely, but is this for sale in any way?

    again, well fucking done. bravo!

  34. Roz Says:

    Got here via soul-sides. This is brilliant! Very nice work…

  35. Sgt Peppers' Lonely Hearts Club DAYYYUM... « Philosophy By Numbers Says:

    [...] And that’s just the cover. [...]

  36. kirsten T Says:

    thank you for this great site!

    x

  37. wilhelm Says:

    FAB GEEB. LOVE IT.

  38. wilhelm Says:

    Brilliant

  39. Near-Mint Heroes » Archive » Near-Mint 100: 100 Things I’ve Enjoyed Part 3 Says:

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  40. Top 10: July 2007 « dk presents… Says:

    [...] Issue – The good folks at Word Magazine were kind enough to publish a lovely two-page spread on my Hip-Hop Sgt. Pepper’s art in their July issue [Leonard Cohen is on the cover]. Columnist Rob Fitzpatrick did an amazing job [...]

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  42. LP Cover Lover · Hip hop nation Says:

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  43. Cover Art « 88 Miles Home Says:

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  44. Music That Changed My Life - The Cover Art « dk presents… Says:

    [...] good friend Ronny Knight (the same RK who shot my Hip-Hop Sgt. Pepper’s cover) was kind enough to take a high quality photo of this collage. He placed it on our wood floor [...]

  45. jayare20k Says:

    outstanding image. i used the image for a little “visual sampling” of my own for an ongoing art project because i liked it so much. no infringement, just an homage to some great work.

    respect. i’d like to see put together some similar projects with different classic album covers in the future.

  46. Buried Treasure - The Cover Art « dk presents… Says:

    [...] Treasure – The Cover Art This blog was hatched as an outgrowth of my utterly insane love of making mixed cds. Once I began writing liner notes for those mixes – and those notes [...]

  47. Frank M Says:

    I was looking for a high res sgt peppers cover original. I clicked on your site without reading except high res came up in the web description. I had just been thinking of editing a re-make for my own use of the original. Man, I would like to see your stuff closer. It is an awesome job. Love it. I am not a hip hopper by trade ;-) but my tastes are very ecclectic. I am linking as I write.

    Kudos on the mere replication. No dis on the beatles at all. Bravo

    Frank

  48. Hip-Hop Sgt. Pepper’s - The Making Of « dk presents… Says:

    [...] out the original posting of this cover for more information and [...]

  49. Baffled Says:

    Thats just dumb. Who is your Aldous Huxley?

  50. dkpresents Says:

    Slick Rick sits in Aldous Huxley’s position.

  51. industryfinest Says:

    WOW

  52. Dave Robinson Says:

    Couldn’t you think of an original idea yourself? Copying Peter Blake doesn’t make it good art.

  53. dkpresents Says:

    You’re taking the phrase “cover art” way too literally…

    Sorry if I’ve offended your inner artiste.

  54. createmo Says:

    Thank you for your site :)
    I made with photoshop backgrounds for youtube, myspace and whatever
    my backgrounds:http://tinyurl.com/6r7cav
    all the best and thank you again!

  55. Cover Art « One Blue Sky Says:

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  56. Big Al Davies Says:

    I think it is art anyway

  57. Sean Swag Says:

    very cool stuff


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  58. HIP-HOP SGT. PEPPER’S. | wheels of confusion. Says:

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  60. D Says:

    Way DOPE!

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    эффективные диеты…

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  63. social networking, Afrika, Africa, sharing, profile photos, games, apps, application, music, music upload, mp3, video upload, videos, facebook, faceofafrika, Says:

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  64. GoldTimer Says:

    Any chance of hi-res pics becoming available. Would love to have this so I could burn my own version, but the pics are just too low quality. Such a shame!

  65. Serge Says:

    The Beatles were 4, no?

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