Have you ever had to choose a favorite child? Creating this list was, from what I can imagine, just as agonizing. Ranking my favorite album covers solely based on design, rather than music, took a lot of thought and Chardonnay.
So, cheers to this curation—a mix of new sounds, old classics and a little bit of the in-between.
10. Back to Bedlam: James Blunt
Multiple stories, multiple interpretations, and a lot to digest. This design is reminiscent of earlier times when album covers were vigorously studied and sold based on artistic conception.
9. Streams of Thought, Vol. 3: Cane & Abel: Black Thought
Sadly, this album doesn’t grace my speakers as often as I’d like it to (due to Apple Music’s quirky algorithm), but this cover is a standalone piece. Pure art.
8. Drip Season4Ever: Gunna
Regarded as a “trap music god,” Gunna takes the praise to new heights with his signature flair—juxtaposing an ode to the Greek gods and the culture-shifting gaudiness of a Black American Rapper.
7. What a Time to be Alive: Drake & Future
In the bling-centric era, these two megastars let the diamonds and music speak for themselves.
6. Channel Orange: Frank Ocean
For an artist celebrated and revered for his introspection, honesty, and vulnerability, how fitting that his debut album features the color he was feeling during the music’s conception, orange. Simple, yet powerful.
5. Hndrxx: Future
Since the 2010s, Future has been a mainstay in rap and pop lanes thanks to his no holds barred topics, melodies, and ear for the right now. Hndrxx shows the artist dive into his alter ego, a hazy R&B motif you can feel through the cover.
4. Dangerously in Love: Beyonce
3. All Eyez on Me: 2Pac
This album cover reflects the duality of 2Pac, the music artist, and Tupac, the person. On the surface, he’s self-assertive, masculine and unapologetic, but a closer look at his eyes reveals a level of depth, vulnerability, and honesty only he had the ability to take us through his music.
2. Purple Rain: Prince
Is there really a more iconic image of a pop legend? This cover catapulted Prince Nelson Rogers from the Midwest to mega superstar status worldwide.
1. Here, My Dear: Marvin Gaye
Meant to be a throwaway album developed from a court’s order, artist integrity gets the best of Gaye and the artist uses this opportunity to paint a raw, unfiltered picture of love, divorce, and everything in between. From the red roses and fire to the passionate display of the statue, this cover’s meaning deepens as you listen to each track.