Cover Art

Album packaging means a lot less in this age of iTunes than it once did, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering when evaluating an album. RD’s album cover was an iconic image shot by Johnathan Mannion (the photographer’s first album cover) and it was absolutely perfect. You don’t see Jay’s face, but Mannion’s clean, classy aesthetic and Jigga’s expensive threads captured the essence of the rapper’s image and the album itself.

 
You don’t see Jay’s face, but Mannion’s clean, classy aesthetic and Jigga’s expensive threads captured the essence of the rapper’s image and the album itself.
 

When we imagine Jay at the craps table, sipping margaritas or feeding 50s after kidnapping his friend’s baby's mother, we see him draped in the same Versace swag—scarf on neck, hat with a tilt, cigar in hand—as we did on the cover.

There’s a cigar in Jay’s hand on the cover of The Blueprint as well. But that stogie is where the similarity ends. This time Jay is seen from a bird’s eye view, sitting on a desk that’s littered with props—an extra cigar, an ashtray, a cigar cutter, a phone, and, strangely, a microphone (did Jay stage concerts in his office?). There’s also a number of shoes visible in the upper right-hand corner—foot soldiers of Jay’s army navy, maybe? Sporting a Rocawear jacket and smoking his cigar, he looks like he’s about to bust out some orders—but we’re not sure.

What we do know is that while TBP’s blue-hued front cover might go well with songs like “The Takeover” (with its war room atmosphere) or “U Don’t Know” (which celebrates the tycoon status) it doesn’t capture the album overall. That’s why the clear winner here has to be RD. Hate to break it to ya Hov, but Versace > Rocawear.

Advantage: Reasonable Doubt

The Blueprint: 5 | Reasonable Doubt: 4