If you take southern hip hop music seriously, or have a fondness in your heart for the diamond-encrusted excesses of the Cash Money era, you probably appreciate the badly Photoshopped album covers that have become one of the genre's calling cards. Over at Noisey, Skinny Friedman sings the praises of the original culprits of the art form, Pen & Pixel, a graphic design firm based in Houston who made their name doing album art for rappers, primarily in the South and Southwest.
The golden age of Pen & Pixel was the late 90's and early 00's (especially when No Limit had a new album in stores every fucking week). You know the style even if you don't know the name: a typical Pen & Pixel cover involves the artist surrounded by photoshopped cars, weapons and women usually in the hood but sometimes in a graveyard or a church, under grandiose typography depicting their name. It's actually hard to say what a "typical" Pen & Pixel work looks like because their process is very hands-off; they are more or less happy to do whatever their clients want. Not anything, as they explained in the Ego Trip Book of Rap Lists (nobody goes on the cross!), but their concerns were about politics not taste. No amount of computer-aided thuggin or computer-aided stuntin' was over the line.
Behold a handful of fine examples, all set in space, none of them the soundtrack to Space Jam.