We all know that many Hip Hop artists, groups, and producers pay homage to the artists from decades before, who laid the foundation for their own sound. Sampling has been an integral part of hip hop from its conception. As hip hop has progressed, sampling has become more intricate, as producers have searched far and wide for obscure samples and sounds, from artists that may not have been widely known during their time as recording artists, only to be rediscovered and rescued from obscurity by hip hop fans.
One aspect of sampling that may go overlooked amongst hip hop peers is something that pays homage to the sampled artist before you even listen to the song. There have been more than a few artists that have sampled the album covers of jazz, funk, and soul artists, and each one has it’s own interpretation. There have been different levels of usage, multiple levels and aspects, as well as inspirations. Here are a couple examples and their inspirations, side by side.
Roy Ayers & Smif n Wesson
Not only did Smif n Wesson sample Roy Ayers on this particular album, they also borrowed the album cover from Roy Ayers’ album He’s Coming. It doesn’t take long to see the similarities between the two. Coincidently, both of these albums are considered classics amongst their respective circles.
John Coltrane & J-Live
J-Live really had to come correct on his album if he was going to use the most iconic jazz photo of all time. On his album entitled All of the Above, he represented more than adequately. This album is a personal favorite, and his a excellent display of production, lyricism, and concept.
Funkadelic & Redman
Before Redman became a constant punch line, he was a mean-mugging ruff neck, and his rap style represented that. His album cover Dare iz a Darkside, he took elements of Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain, but there are still noticeable differences.
Hank Mobley & The Beatnuts
Not only did the Beatnuts use the cover for Hank Mobley’s album The Turnaround, they incorporated the album design in every album after, and used the swirl design as their logo. What makes their incorporation even more odd is that it is uncertain if they ever sampled Hank Mobley, or had any other connection to the jazz artist, other than the design on the logo.
Marvin Gaye & Camp Lo
Both of these album covers pay homage to famous painting by Ernie Barnes entitled Sugar Shack, which depicts an excellent image of not only music and art, but the historical African American experience.
David Ruffin & Wiz Khalifa
The most recent album to make this list, this break out album for Wiz Khalifa mimics the classy art of David Ruffin, even down to the woman on his side. Though this sound is a more contemporary sound, Wiz still incorporates samples throughout Kush & Orange Juice, and the album cover is a clear indication that he respects the greats that came before him.
Cal Tjader & Boogiemonsters
Although the Boogiemonsters are not as notable as the before mentioned artists, their debut album is a cult classic among many underground hip hop circles. Although the photo of the Boogiemonster’s album cover does not mimick Cal Tjader’s Soul Sauce, the iconic color wave of the border is an obvious reflection of the latin jazz piece.
The Black Panther Party & Digable Planets
As an honorable mention, we should acknowledge Digable Planets and their brilliantly conceptualized album cover, inspired by the Black Panther Party periodical. Digable Planets used may design elements from the newspaper, including the overall cell, borders, and even using the light purple shade, something that Black Panther artist and designer Emory Douglass often used. Not only did Digable Planets use the the Black Panther theme on their cover, their music was also laced with information and facts, messages involving black pride, and soulful beats and samples, as well as thought provoking lyrics. A 10 out of 10, and best of all, they sampled Roy Ayers three times on the album.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list, but we have to mention that the list does not end here. We mentioned a total of 8, but there is sure to be more album covers that have sampled classic jazz, funk, and soul, references.
If you, the reader, think of any, please mention them in the comments for others to see.
*** more mentions! Thanks to @UndeadSinatra ***
Andrew Hill & Atmosphere
Donald Byrd & Tone Loc
Written by: @Haylow