Madlib – Yesterday’s Universe

For my first post, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite music artists, favorite record labels and favorite designers. I thought it was appropriate.

This is the cover of Yesterday’s Universe released last Tuesday on Stones Throw Records. The album is a compilation of imaginary jazz musicians and groups that only exist in the mind of one of the more creative hip-hop producers, Otis Jackson Jr. (aka Madlib aka Quasimoto aka DJ Rels aka The Beat Konducta aka aka aka…). In an interview with RE:UP, Peanut Butter Wolf said this all started when Madlib said he wanted to make a jazz album. The two of them went shopping for keyboards and Madlib headed to his basement to produce an amazing electronic / jazz album, Angles Without Edges, under the name “Yesterday’s New Quintet” in 2001. Yesterday’s Universe is the next step for the project, in a way, being born out of a slew of separate YNQ projects and EPs. The difference between the two is that the imaginary quintet has broken up, forming new groups and their own distinctive styles.

What is really interesting about the album’s packaging are the separate album covers inside the insert. Each one represents one of the imaginary bands and their made-up albums. All of them could easily be pulled out and used on their own.

The packaging was created by a designer and illustrator who I’ve been very interested in as lately, Jeff Jank. He heads the art direction of Stones Throw Records and is responsible for their unique identity along with a lot of their album covers. Considering the number of Stones Throw albums I pick up, prepare to see more of him.

What impresses me in these covers is how separate they are, aesthetically. The personality of each group comes through just as much, maybe more, as they do in the music. He’s creating identities for artists that don’t exist. The covers have a vintage feel that would have some to believe they are long lost albums from the 70’s, found in someone’s dusty basement.

Also, check out the inspiration for the YU cover, Ornette Coleman’s Ornette!. Shamefully, I’m not sure who the designer was. Nor do I own this album. Something else to add onto my list…

If you want to preview the album and you have iTunes, click here.
For more info on Stones Throw, Jeff Jank, Madlib and YNQ, visit their home page.

3 responses to “Madlib – Yesterday’s Universe”

  1. Anonymous says:

    !the band clinic had a album cover like that too

  2. […] album is in much the same spirit as Yesterdays Universe, which I wrote about back in 2007. Each track is supposedly taken from rare records in Madlib’s giant collection, going as far […]

  3. E Porter says:

    Ornette is designed by john jagel, father of jason jagel who you covered in the “funshine” post. Article about him here, with a reference to the connection with this Yesterdays Universe album
    http://www.thewire.co.uk/articles/2830/

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