Nique – Framed & Unfocused

Here is an album cover illustrated by fellow VCU-alumni Richie Pope, a Richmond-based illustrator influenced by “Expressionism, comic books, politics, hip-hop and music in general”. Nevada-based rapper Nique sent several reference shots which Richie drew from, cut apart and gessoed together. He made several posts following the progress of this piece on his blog. Also of interest is a series of black and white painted portraits of Rolling Stones 100 Greatest Singers he is currently working on. Lost At E Minor recently interviewed him about his work.

The cover is for Nique’s mixtape which is being released later this month. The cover is meant to show that he is framed You can hear samples of his music on his MySpace page.

Richie Pope
Lost At E Minor Interview

DJ Okawari – Mirror

I’m usually not big on vector collages like these. I’ve seen a few too many poor imitations on sites like DeviantART. But the execution and color palette of these covers for DJ Okawari’s first and second albums makes them work. They were illustrated by Marumiyan, a Japanese illustrator and designer. His portfolio site features a heavy selection of work ranging from advertising, posters, apparel, branding and more. I, of course, really enjoy his album packaging section.

DJ Okawari is a Japanese DJ and hip-hop produce who’s work consists of glossy beats and the jazzy piano playing I often hear in Japanese production. His newest album, Mirror (top), features a guest spot by Amanda Diva along with others. The translation of his bio is a bit iffy, but I can see that he’s also worked with the Ohio hip-hop group Five Deez (where have they been?). You can hear samples of Okawari’s work on his MySpace page.

DJ Okawari

D.C. Record Fair #3

The third DC Record Fair last Sunday at Comet Ping Pong was exciting. Hundreds of vinyl junkies came through. I spent a lot of money. Pizza was eaten. Unfortunately I missed getting a signed poster by Mingering Mike. But I had a great time.

Above is a slideshow of photos I took while I was there. The Vinyl District (one of the sponsors) posted a photo recap of the fair, including a few of my shots. BrightestYoungThings has an article on the fair featuring some great shots by Sergey Guryakov and Mia Mabanta. I’ll be posting scans of the records I bought to The Cover Down once I have my scanner in order.

The Vinyl District: DC Record Fair Recap
BrightestYoungThings: DC Record Fair in ALL It’s Glory
Comet Ping Pong

Various – Warp20

Warp Records recently shipped out their Warp20 box set, celebrating their 20 year anniversary. The box includes a 192 page booklet showcasing the covers of every Warp release up to this point, a double CD of tracks selected by fans on, another double CD of Warp song covers, a triple 10″ vinyl of “secret treasures”, an hour-long mix CD and a double 10″ vinyl of hand-picked loops. It is a beautiful thing.

Hardformat shot some great images of the packaging (above), highlighting the design work of London-based studio YES. In terms of Warp related, they’ve also created designs for Maximo Park, in collaboration with photographer Amber Rowlands.

London-based Dan Holdsworth is responsible for the photography, which features the purple infinite ribbon that has been used throughout Warp’s anniversary campaign. Holdsworth is well known for his environmental and landscape photography, often using long-exposures.

I skipped out on this release, unfortunately. I believe it is sold out. However, the fan-picked and covers CDs are now available separately on Bleep.

Warp Records
Dan Holdsworth

Electric Wire Hustle – Electric Wire Hustle

While wandering around the Stones Throw message boards, I ran across a recommendation for a soul group from New Zealand. Interesting… I was pleasantly surprised to be confronted with an amazingly mellow electronic/soul/hip-hop track with a beautiful vibe by a group called Electric Wire Hustle (I assume in reference to Common’s song “Electric Wire Hustle Flower”).

What immedietly grabbed my attention was the video for their song, “Perception”, produced by New Zealand studio Mofresh, featuring stark, almost black & white shots of the group, shaking tambourines, lit-up instruments and quick images of women that make the track that much sexier. I can already tell that I will wear this song out in a month or so. The group, lead by multi-instrumentalist Taay Ninh with Mara TK on vocals and Myele Manzanza on drums, has a similar spirit to that of Sa-Ra and The Platinum Pied Pipers, both of which they’ve worked with.

To match the future-soul the group is making, they hired New York-based designer Jeff Docherty to handle the packaging for their debut EP. Docherty’s managed to put together a very attractive, minimalist package with a suitably “electric” logo and colorful abstract illustration, which looks great when animated. Along with work for clients like The Gaurdien and The New York Times, he’s also designed album packaging for artist Meredith Bragg.

Their EP was released on September 9th in New Zealand on their own label, Every Waking Hour, and features guest appearances by Declaime, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Stacy Epps and others. Also be sure to check out this great live video of the group in the studio.

Electric Wire Hustle
Jeff Docherty

CoverCast #4: 9/6

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As I mentioned earlier, my job’s been a little stressful recently. So this week I put together a mix of tracks that are good for keeping me sane during my daily 9 to 6. The impressive Astrud Gilberto edit by Shigeto comes from a free EP download available at the ISO50 blog. I’ve also used a track from Nicolay’s fantastic new album, Shibuya: City Lights Vol. 2, released this week. Now get back to work.

1. Herb Pihofer – Hail Ceasar
2. Jeff Parker – Beanstalk
3. Koushik – Coolin’ (Instrumental)
4. Jackson Conti – São Paulo Nights
5. Astrud Gilberto – Berimbau (Shigeto Edit)
6. Triorganico – Correndo
7. Nicolay – Omotesando
8. 9dw – Thinking Makes A Mistake
9. Savath & Savalas – Pavo Real
10. Quantic & His Combo Barbaro – Undelivered Letter
11. Quarteto Novo – Síntese
12. Cut Chemist – Spoon
13. Samon Kawamura – Out-Take 0810-012
14. Bibio – All The Flowers
15. Tortoise – Charteroak Foundation
16. Toumani Diabaté – Elyne Road

Martha Cooper – The Hip-Hop Files

This Current TV clip by Thomas Green is a year old, but it showed up on TV a few minutes ago and I thought it was worth posting for those who haven’t seen it. From

“Martha Cooper was a photo-journalist living in New York City when she first began documenting the origins of B-boy (short for break-boys) and hip hop culture. While other New Yorkers at the time saw this movement as a trite, uninspired or even offensive fad, Martha found a new form of expressing art. Through her camera lens we recount the infancy of hip-hop culture, from the alleys and subways of New York to the masses beyond the boroughs.”

Martha Cooper
Hip Hop Files: Photographs, 1979-1984 @
Current TV