What Happens When You Drown High Art in Coca-Cola?
ENTRY 06: pusha t will make sure you remember
last week’s entry was super short, and well, this one is more in-depth. let’s break apart the nastiest album cover in recent rap memory.
It’s Almost Dry
“Embracing an omnivorous approach to material, Sterling Ruby works across ceramics, sculpture, textile, installation, and painting; bold hues, monumental scales, and an element of spectacle pervade much of his practice...” - Artsy
This is their first time working together that we know of, and my GOD are they a great pairing. Sterling Ruby’s work is absolutely visceral in nature. He’s one of the most versatile artists I’ve ever come across, and has such a varied body of work.
I spent so long pouring over his pieces, trying to find a good representation of what he’s capable of, but it’s seriously impossible to squeeze it all into one little graphic. His works are just driiiiiipping in texture. Each one seems to battle its own structure, like in ACTS/ALPHA BLOCKER, with it’s machine-perfect smooth edges, but still manages to portray so much motion, energy, and character. His compositions are almost animal, and feel really chaotic. This leads us to Pusha’s album cover, which is just that—chaotic.
It’s Almost Dry’s cover art is simply uncompromising. It’s graphically LAWLESS!!! If you know Pusha’s adlib, “yeauhhghh”, this is that in visual form. The background is comprised of what seems like endless industrial and organic textures, some of which look to be rust, metal, and even tree-bark. There’s no way to tell how much post-production was done on these areas, or if they were left alone, which adds to the mystery of what we’re even looking at.
I’ve never seen typography like this. I don’t know how Ruby does it, but he’s made it a motif for all the cover art in this campaign.
If I had to guess, it looks like maybe it was assembled in real life, with some kind of metal, like tinfoil, then flattened somehow. A rolling pin?? Either that, or it’s literally just handwriting that’s been Photoshop chrome effected to shit. I don’t know, but it’s insane and I fuckin love it. You can somehow still make it out over all the textural hell going on behind it, and definitely gives that high-art-post-modern look.
All of Pusha T’s album art has been crazy good thus far (barring Fear of God II: Let Us Pray), with most having a massive Kanye hand in the mix, and this fits snugly into the group.
2013’s My Name Is My Name is one of my favourite covers ever, not only due to its very graphic and minimal nature, but because of its utility!!!
“Our idea of a thumbprint turned into the barcode. The barcode is a 21st century version of the thumbprint. Then we took it a step further and made the big barcode scan-able.” - Pusha T, The Fader, 2013
If you scan the barcode with the Amazon app, it lets you buy the album. So so cool and simple, but visually fitting for Push, with its purely industrial style. For 2018’s DAYTONA, Kanye West reportedly paid $85,000 for the cover, just days before release. Featuring a photo of Whitney Houston's drug paraphernalia-littered bathroom, Bobby Brown, Whitney’s ex-husband, said it was in “really really bad taste.”
That being said, Pusha’s covers have always been extremely memorable and innovative, leaving a stamp on the rap world and the music industry at large. I of course appreciate how much consideration him and his team have always put and continue to put on cover art and the entire visual campaign. Makes we wanna pick up every release on physicals!
COVER ART BY
Thanks for reading this week, I hope you enjoyed, and after writing all of this I just realised that I wrote it all in “proper title caps” rather than just lower-case stream of consciousness like usual. Weird. Either way, next week we’ll be reviewing the (just released at the time of writing this) new Future album cover for I NEVER LIKED YOU.