"A lot of y’all didn’t know I have 4 kids," Offset tweeted before the release of his debut solo album, Father of 4. "Fatherhood was missing in my life and sometimes I have to be missing for work but it all come back to the little ones," he added. "I’m setting them up for the future. I didn’t take the cleanest route to success I ran into walls and hurdles but I overcame them. I’m proud of me!"

The 27-year-old rapper doubled down on those words when it came to choosing the cover artwork for the album. The image, taken by photographer Pep Williams, captures Offset on a throne with his children Jordan, Kody, Kalea, and Kulture. According to Williams, Cardi B was on FaceTime throughout the shoot to help put baby Kulture at ease.

"To get Kulture really into it, Cardi B's mom was on my shoulder, and I actually held the phone [with Cardi on FaceTime] on the lens," Williams says. "Cardi was actually on FaceTime through the whole thing. I believe she was doing a music video at the time. She kept taking breaks, and then she'd come on FaceTime and she'd look at all the pictures we were taking. I shot so many, and there were so many good ones."

When the cover was revealed to the world, some wondered if it was Photoshopped together, but Williams clarifies that it was based on a single group photo. He says the Egyptian background was edited in, but the group shot itself was made with a single image. "I just shot it, and then they took it over from there. It was one photo," he explains. "A lot of people have been asking, like, 'Hey, was that one photo, two photos?' I just shot the photo, and I submitted it." He adds, "When it was finished, I guess, by the way they did the layers, or something... I'm not sure exactly how it was laid out. It's just the way they were doing the editing."

Williams says what he'll remember most from the shoot is how enjoyable Offset, Cardi, and the rest of the team were to work with. "When you're around good people, it makes everything a whole lot easier," he says.

Our interview with Pep Williams, edited and condensed for clarity, is below.

What were you guys trying to accomplish with this cover? What was the concept?
Well, the concept actually changed. Originally it was RETNA who was handling the creative side, but then he moved on to something else, so it was taken over. From there, it was more Offset. It was just about him, the father of four. You know, just him and his kids.

What about the overall theme and aesthetic?
It was a mix of everything. Because it wasn't just strictly African, or anything like that. It was a mix, I guess you could say, like Native American, African—everything was in the mix. He had some really good stylists and really good wardrobe people that pulled together some good stuff. Joseph I, he's incredible. He really knocked it out. Then Laurel DeWitt, she handled all of the crowns and everything, and she's dope. And Anastasia helped out with the clothing. So just really, really good people.

What was it like photographing all those kids? Was it difficult to get them all to sit still?
Well, the first day was interesting, because they're on East Coast time. So the kids came in, and it was a little later in the day, so of course they're sleepy. So we actually shot a second day, when they were refreshed. It was cool. We rented a very big space in L.A., and I just let the kids have fun. That's how you get 'em into it. You get 'em hyped, but you wear 'em down just a little bit. So they're calm, but they're awake still. They were just running everywhere, trying on things. It was cool, man. It was beautiful.

I heard Cardi B's mom was there with you, helping out with the kids?
Oh, they were all on my shoulder, trust me. [Laughs]. Trust me. Basically, to get Kulture really into it, Cardi B's mom was on my shoulder, and I actually held the phone [with Cardi on FaceTime] on the lens. Cardi was actually on FaceTime through the whole thing. I believe she was doing a music video at the time. She kept taking breaks, and then she'd come on FaceTime and she'd look at all the pictures we were taking. I shot so many, and there were so many good ones. I have some amazing images of Kulture and everyone. They have video of that whole scene, it's pretty cool.


How was the final cover image created, with the Egyptian imagery and everything?
Oh, yeah, that was the editor who did that. Of course we didn't go to the pyramid in Egypt. [Laughs]. So I just shot it, and then they took it over from there.

But was the group shot one photo, or was it a composite of multiple shots?
Yeah, it was one photo. A lot of people have been asking, like, "Hey, was that one photo, two photos?" I just shot the photo, and I submitted it. And then when it was finished, I guess, by the way they did the layers, or something... I'm not sure exactly how it was laid out, or whatever. But, yeah. There's video of the shoot.

Yeah, I saw people asking if the whole thing was Photoshopped together.
Oh, yeah. Oh, trust me, yeah. There has been a lot of that. But no, it was just one shot, but it's just the way they were doing the editing. I don't know. I haven't even asked because I've been in Cuba. I just got back.

Us Weekly ran a story saying the album cover was originally going to be the debut of Kulture's face, but they changed the concept when Cardi decided to post a photo of Kulture on Instagram. Is that true?
I don't remember hearing that. Because actually, we had already shot it. And then I think, actually, three or four days later, Cardi released that picture of Kulture.

Oh, OK. That makes sense. I'm curious about your background. How long have you been a photographer and what types of things do you normally shoot?
I've been shooting since around '95. I actually started in high-end fashion. I did work for everybody, and then from there I kind of got tired of it in the 2000s. Basically, when you're a fashion photographer, you just copy each other's campaigns for that year, or that style, or whatever. Everyone copies each other, and I wanted my work to have its own distinctive style. So, I just broke away, and I started to do more fine art. Of course, I was shooting for all my friends, from all the skateboard companies to streetwear brands and everything, but I focused more on my fine art photography.

Had you done any album covers before this?
Yeah, bro. Yes, quite a lot, over the years. Yeah. So many. Like 20 years of album covers. I did stuff for Suicidal Tendencies, but I actually think I shot more magazine covers than anything. From Chris Brown to Amber Rose to Soulja Boy. It just goes on and on.

What made this shoot stand out from other things you've shot over the years?
What I'll remember most is just when you're around good people, it makes everything a whole lot easier. Look, I've been on shoots where it's just been like a nightmare. I've just walked off some shoots. I'm all, "Goodbye. See you." Because the way I shoot is, if I like you, it's all good. I don't really care about the money, I don't care about none of that stuff. The end result is what's important. And then when 'Set hit me up again to shoot his Amazon, Spotify, and Apple billboards... It was cool, man. We just went to his house, you know, we knocked it out. Real, real simple.

If people saw this cover and like your work, where can they find you?
My website is pepwilliams.com, and then the Instagram is the same: @pepwilliams.

Is there anything else you have coming up, that you want people to know about?
Well, I have a huge show coming up in Beijing, in April, showcasing a lot of my work. It's actually going to be my largest show ever. It's going to be, like, 100 pieces. It's just going to be a broad spectrum of my work over the years. Very, very powerful stuff. I have a big exhibit coming up in London, showcasing the work I did in Cuba last week. I also shot in a prison. I'm the only photographer in California that's allowed to shoot in the California prisons. I shot this insane series. Insane. And the Autrey Museum wants to do an ongoing exhibit at the museum here in LA. I would totally love for you guys to check it out. Very, very powerful stuff. The show is in December.