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After discovering A$AP Ferg this past weekend (I know, I’m behind with the times), I did some visual research on him. And by research I mean looking at a picture of him because he’s next-level hot. With this creeping, I found an interview he had with GQ where he discussed his own artistic progress and explained how the true modern rock stars are rap/hip hop artists. Ferg mentioned blink-182 and stated that, to him, Lil Uzi today is what blink-182 was in the 90s. This got me thinking about the visuals of rap artists in general.

The visuals of album covers, designs made by rap artists, and even the merch they sell directly affects the way culture appears, at least so far in this decade. Kanye West’s graphic style has changed a lot, but the The Life of Pablo album cover brought experimental grid structures into a center stage of album art in 2017. Now, an emerging parallel trend for web design is experimental grid structures has become a major visual factor for 2018.

Not only is Kendrick Lamar’s music video for “Humble” visually groundbreaking, he gave the art director so much freedom to utilize experimental film techniques to convey the story put forth in the video itself while still exuding the normal raining money, saucy babes, and badass nature of rap music videos in general. Even with the recent music video for “Stir Fry” by Migos, the production that these music videos have been given experimentally creates leeway that used to be a primary aspect of rock bands of the 90s like Smashing Pumpkins, The Cranberries, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Rap artists have taken the place of rock artists in the strength their visuals have influenced today’s visual culture. This is because rap/hip hop artists want to set themselves apart as their brands have become a major factor in the conveying the messages they wish to exude. The freedom they give the artists to create graphics for their music in turn becomes groundbreaking. Rap/hip hop artists are the modern facilitators of complete creative freedom as themes their musical tend to push boundaries. Here’s to the hope that new levels of groundbreaking graphics stay in the DNA of existing and future rap/hip hop artists to come.

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