Release date: Sep. 8, 2009
Photography: Dan Tobin Smith
Art direction: Greg Burke, Nicola Yeoman
Labels: Roc Nation, Atlantic

It's easy to think that this everything-but-the-kitchen sink stack of instruments and recording equipment was created using Photoshop, even the red lines across the top look unreal. The amazing thing about this cover, though, is that it was created using photography and a projector.

The design team carefully stacked all the equipment in a corner then used the projector to create those red bars. They then painted red onto the equipment where the projection of the bars was, and replaced the projector with a camera to achieve the correct perspective for this incredibly rich image, making it an amazing technical achievement.

Blueprint 3 was the first album cover that didn't feature Jay Z's face on it, marking a change in approach to his music and visuals. Judging by the way his Magna Carta album cover and rollout have been so far (via the "Picasso Baby" and "Holy Grail" videos), the #newrules method is here to stay. —Dale Eisinger