There was a time when album artwork was considered almost as important as the album itself. From Olamide’s iconic cover to “Baddest Guy Ever Liveth”, to Banky W’s sleek look on “R&BW”, we’ve celebrated design, both great and awful, beautiful and ugly, thoughtful and nonsensical.
Behind every great album is great artwork. The design of an album’s cover is a crucial aspect of the album itself. Although it might seem that an album is all about the music, the artwork is the face of the album, which means that it’s the thing that gives potential listeners their first impressions. Your album’s first impression is central to its success.
There is one overriding purpose for album artwork: to attract listeners to your music.
No other artiste in this generation typifies the push to get the album art right like Olamide has done in his career. The rapper has maintained an unparalleled consistency in the release of full-length projects, dropping one every year since 2001. In 2015, he went a step further and collaborated with Phyno for a joint project. In 2016, he has announced another one titled “The Glory”.
This will be Olamide’s 7 album. In 2011, he launched his career with “Rapsodi”, and went further to release a string of albums every year including “YBNL” (2012), “Baddest Guy Ever Liveth” (2013), “Street OT” (2014), “2 Kings” (joint album with Phyno, 2015), and “Eyan Mayweather” (2015).
Olamide treats his album cover art like what it is, art. From creating a viral pop culture element, to capturing the spirit of the times Olamide’s album artworks have been a subject of discussion, the object of awe, and a connection to his music.
Pulse Music looks through all of the rapper’s six album artworks and ranks them according to their level of dopeness, wokeness and relevance to the music on offer.
Baddest Guy Ever Liveth (2013)
Without a doubt, Olamide‘s third album ‘Baddest Guy Ever Liveth‘ was one of the best albums of 2013. Initially intended to be a mixtape, the project was immediately converted to an LP after fans and critics praised the singles ‘Durosoke‘, and ‘Rayban Abacha‘.
Olamide later released the album on November 7, 2013. The YBNL rapper made this known on Instagram as he uploaded this picture which was the final art work for the album.
The art work depicts Olamide wearing the popular ancient Roman Empire attire with a laurel leaf hat. He also closes his eyes and spreads his arms out in what became the Gunman Pose. Olamide clearly tapped into the current Hip-Hop trend – art and religion, something the likes of Jay Z, Kanye West and J Cole themed their 2013 albums around.
Shortly after releasing Baddest Guy Ever Liveth, fans and colleagues of Olamide showed him love by mimicking his “gunman pose” on the album cover, a move which caused a viral trend, with everyone remaking the pose, and essentially helping to push the acceptance of the album.
YBNL (abbreviation for Yahoo Boy No Laptop) is the second studio album by Nigerian hip hop recording artist Olamide. It was released on November 12, 2012 as the follow up to his debut studio album, Rapsodi (2011).
This was his first independent debut album, where Olamide was just more than an artiste. He was completely in charge of it.
As the executive producer of his second studio project, Olamide reached out to different producers, including Pheelz, Samklef, I.D Cabasa, 2Kriss and Tyrone. The aforementioned producers largely contributed to the album’s production. YBNL was supported by the singles “Ilefo Illuminati”, “First of All”, “Stupid Love” and “Voice of the Street”.
The album title, which gave birth to the YBNL record label captures an artiste that has begun to enjoy the trappings of wealth, but chose a different path, one that is far from the attractive internet fraud (Yahoo) that many of his peers resorted to.
In getting that money, he was a Yahoo boy without a laptop, and a star enjoying the light. And that’s what the album cover captures perfectly.
The Glory (2016)
The latest of the lot, Olamide’s new album cover is barely 24 hours old, but it already bears details of what to expect from the album. The photo was taken by the artistic Emily Nkanga, and the design had producer Pheelz, extend his involvement on the project. He designed this one.
Olamide’s new album will have him returning to the streets, and distilling the voices and influences that he finds. He comes back now not as the kid who used the lessons learned from the streets to make a living. He is returning as one of the crop, but just with added glory that comes from being the hottest rapper in the country.
With a bi-coloured and ungroomed hair, a scarf blindfolding the rapper and arms covered over his mouth, suggesting the popular motion of lighting a blunt, the album cover connects in more ways than making street music does.
If anything this album cover is the street itself.
Eyan Mayweather (2015)
Eyan Mayweather is the fifth studio album by Nigerian rap artist Olamide, released on 23 November 2015. Released through YBNL Nation with studio production from Pheelz, Young Jonn, B Banks and I.D. Cabasa, Eyan Mayweather is the follow up to 2 Kings, a collaborative album by Olamide and Phyno.
2015 was Olamide’s most successful year yet. One in which his ascendancy to the pinnacle of Nigeria Hip-hop was certified and celebrated by everyone, including his foes, which he vanquished along the way by sheer hardwork and smart strategy which rained like blows and ducks from the famous American boxer, Floyd Mayweather.
In that year, Mayweather successfully defeated his last challenger Manny Pacquiao, and became one of the greatest boxers of all time. Olamide channels that spirit, and likens his exploits to that of the great.
The album art which perfectly captures that, had the singer return to his hood, Bariga, Lagos, and capture that moment where he towers over the rest.
Rapsodi is the debut studio album by Nigerian rapper Olamide, released by Coded Tunes.
The album features guest appearances from Pheelz, Wizkid, 9ice, Reminisce, I.D Cabasa, 2Phat, Adol, Ab1, Jumoke, Lord of Ajasa, B-Rank, Soul Joe, and Terry Da Rapman. It was nominated for Best Rap Album at The Headies 2012.
This was Olamide’s first outing, and the album art, is every inch the definition of a debut from a rising rapper. There’s a certain rawness it exudes, which is in keeping with the music that it sought to sell.
“Rapsodi” album art is Olamide’s unpolished debut.
Street OT (2014)
“Street OT” is the fourth studio album by Nigerian rapper Olamide. It was released on November 14, 2014 through YBNL Nation.
The album is a follow up to his 2013 Baddest Guy Ever Liveth album. Preceded by the singles titled “Story For The Gods” and “Goons Mi”, Street OT features guest appearances from Pasuma, Lil Kesh, Chinko Ekun, Phyno, Don Jazzy, and Reminisce.
Its production was handled by Pheelz, B-Banks and Young Jonn.
The ideology of the title of the album is to glorify and show his love for the “streets”, a word with which Olamide is synonymous with.
But the album art fails to capture any of that, with a tepid cartoonish creative direction that was both uninspiring and shoddy.