Release date: Aug. 8, 2011
Art direction: Riccardo Tisci, Virgil Abloh
Art producer: Alex Haldi, Kristen Yiengst, Scott Townsend, Todd Russell
Labels: Roc-A-Fella, Roc Nation, Def Jam
It was fitting that an album full of million-dollar beats—made by the two most popular rappers on the planet (one of whom happens to be the most popular producer on the planet)—would have what essentially amounts to a million-dollar cover, or something that looked like it. The cover for 'Ye and Jay's big-ticket blockbuster luxury rap album Watch The Throne was designed by Givenchy creative director Riccardo Tisci, because of course it was.
Taking symbols and shapes representing power and royalty—diamonds, crosses, wreaths, arrows, and daggers—Tisci patterned them in a kaleideoscopic scheme, and inverted them inward, facing against each other, representing both the regal nature of the two men who'd created the album, the consolidation of their collective strength, and the battle for power implicit in the album's title. Like a Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, the cover represented the chance for everyone to feel like they owned something special, something rich, something that represented obscene value, and yet, when owned by those same people, truly served to confirm the worth and riches of the guys who made it. It was subtle and overt, audacious and nuanced, and nothing short of a stunning high-bar that will take a long time to clear. —Foster Kamer