The archives of Pen & Pixel


Seen in aggregate, these do have a sort of internal logic.

The one with the dude standing in front of his dilapidated home, morosely raking up the treemoney, was downright poignant.

They should make a “make your own P&P album cover” website in the style of Japanese avatar makers, where you upload a pic, then overlay blingy text, money gifs, anthropomorphic animal gangsters, etc.

I feel almost certain that I’ve seen something like that, although I doubt the results would have the same level of artistry. I used to assume that most covers in this style that I’d seen were, in fact, the product of just such a service/app.


I was going to say that sarcastically, but now that I think about it, I’m not. There really is a strange cohesiveness to the work as a whole. Totally removed from any general societal concept of “classy,” “serious,” or “cool,” but still.

Awful but eye-catching. So in the one sense, not awful at all because it worked.

Does make me realize where some of Kool Keith’s album covers were coming from, from the same period. They were parodying this. As usual, Kool Keith is the Miles Davis of rap, so far ahead of the rest that he’s in a genre of his own.

Parody, yes, but I’m pretty sure he actually hired P&P, though. Maybe that was a rumor?

After doing some searches, it looks like it was an imitation, not actually P&P. It would have been cooler if he’d actually hired them, though. I guess that’s why I assumed he had.

anyway, I found a bunch of other parodies while I was searching, it was a thing on SA at one point, apparently: I’m rather fond of the Dolly Parton one.

One thing that irks me about the copy on the U of Houston site:

Stylishly dressed rappers, diamond encrusted jewelry, piles of cash, and champagne bottles epitomized the bling aesthetic associated with many 1990s hip hop artists.

What they wrote isn’t wrong, but it could be inferred that the “bling aesthetic” was synonymous with rap in the 90s, when in fact it didn’t appear until the late 90s and was hugely divisive within the rap scene. I recall moving to Atlanta and conversing with Talib at my new local record shop for the first time. I wanted to be diplomatic about how I felt since I didn’t know him and didn’t want to insult his bread-and-butter sales, so I said “it looks like we’re in a new era now.” To which he replied “Yeah. The GARBAGE era.” We were simpatico ever since.

Thing everybody has to remember is that these were the revolutionary level that early photoshop* brought to the table. Before this it still mostly was old pros (physically) cutting and pasting to wax board.

*(I think I read somewhere that P&P stated off on version 5 which didn’t even have layer masks)

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