31. Kanye West, Graduation (2007)
Art Direction: Takashi Murakami
Illustrator: Takashi Murakami
Label: Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam
From the onset of his career, Kanye West has earned a reputation for his perfectionist approach to art, and Graduation was the culmination of that attitude. With chart-topping single "Stronger" going through 75 mixes, and its accompanying music video West's most ambitious to date, the album cover needed to match up. The Dropout Bear from the first two LPs stuck around, but that's about it.
Renowned Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami took Yeezy's collegeiate theme to the next level with his eye-catching send-up of the ongoing student life metaphors represented by the rapper's album titles. The cover's setting, Universe City, is popping with color, symbolism, and a boldness that reminds us that he was the biggest music star on the planet when Graduation dropped.