Album covers speak volumes about the music on the disc, help us interpret more on the message the artist is conveying. Some artworks are easy to understand, others need a trained eye to decipher. We take a look at some of this year’s coolest local album artworks. We break down the imagery to find out what they could possibly mean.
Reason – Audio High Definition (hip hop)
Released 21 November 2014
“This is the highest definition of myself as a musician. This is the best work that I’ve created so far,” rapper Reason told Hype magazine on the day of his album release on November 21. Judging from this album’s artwork, you can tell that he’s stepped up his game since his previous effort Audio 3D. The background of the artwork is layered, on what appears to be a tribal print, to represent his Africanness. From the serious look on his face and the crowns on his head and name, you can tell that Reason means business.
Beatenberg –The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg (pop/house)
Released, 11 August 2014
Probably one of the best album covers to come out of South Africa in a minute, Beatenberg’s The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg is pure art. Just like their music, which is sophisticated pop music on a traditional rock ‘n roll set up. The thick golden classical frame signifies riches and wealth, the purple royalty, and the black car power. The hipster in white pants and clock brings it back to modern times. There are religious undertones too, in the face of a Hindu god. This album is a clash of colours, but easy on the eye. A complete masterpiece of an artwork.
Okmalumkoolkat – Holy Oxygen (alternative hip hop)
Released 11 August 2014
Slick, vibrant with triangular shapes interweaved, this cover reminds us why Okmalumkoolkat calls himself “Future Mfana”. Sci-fi has always been core to Okmalumkoolkat’s imagery and style. The writing on the left-hand side is clear and simple on a white background. A contrast to the left, the right is clear with the H for “Holy” inside the letter O for Oxygen. And if you look closely, there’s a human figure standing towards the middle of the artwork – a portrait on the artist himself.
Simphiwe Dana – Firebrand (afro soul)
Released 24 November 2014
Hot off her recent Kenyan launch, a US performance at the Apollo Theatre, which coincided with winning a Bessie Award at the NYC ceremony, Firebrand is the fourth studio album from Africa’s quintessential queen of soul. She’s been working on it for the past two years. She was styled by the prince of fashion David Tlale for the cover shoot, which appears to be inspired by traditional Kenyan colour schemes. The clenched fist talks of her militancy and the red brings on the fire.
AKA – Levels (hip hop)
Released 30 June 2014
This album might as well have been named Godly. Just look at the tone and colours – godly. The pyramids, big body benz – godly. His face in the sky with the faded writing – godly. But “levels”, a word describing a step-up in your game, works just as well. As Tumi, says in the into of the album: “If you tilt your head and squint your eyes it might come to you, this light might shine through you. Levels”. This is a really confident cover.
K.O–Skhanda Republic (hip hop)
Released 7 November 2014
This is his first album as a solo artist and it’s killing the game one track at a time. This album cover exemplifies his music. Leader of the new sound, skhanda republic, K.O has shaken the streets and airwaves of Mzansi. On this cover he’s saluting his nation as the general of the rap game. The R20 note, hippo, matchbox house, Chucks hanging on the cable between the two famous Soweto towers, are all true South African iconography.
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