Year: 1999
Art direction: Kenny Gravillis
Photography: Corbis

"Trying to get multiple covers was virtually impossible in hip-hop because of budget restraints. Kenny Gravillis, who used to work for us at The Drawing Board, had moved out to L.A. and started working for MCA on the West Coast. He ended up convincing the guys that if they just went with black and white, it would lower the cost. So in theory, it wouldn’t be any more money than it would be to run a color cover. I think he got the printer to do a gang run, and they made it cheap enough to be able to do five covers.

He basically came up with a concept and solved a problem when they started to debate about why this was too expensive. The cool thing about the guys in The Roots is that they were always interested in pushing the envelope and doing something interesting every single time they released a record. It was to Kenny’s credit that he was working with a band like that, because not everybody cares about that, and they’re not always willing to fight for it. In addition, having those iconic images on the cover—I mean some of them were pretty painful to look at—was still an interesting turning point in the culture, because it showed that we can do things that are conceptual, just like the rock and roll boys, and people do care, and they will pick up the record. And that was to my knowledge the only record The Roots had a hit on."