Nicki Minaj recently caught some heat for her “Lookin Ass N*gga” single cover, which features a photograph of Malcolm X, gun in hand and peering out a window. While the pop star has since apologized for the cover, we couldn’t help but think about the other album covers that caused a stir over the years.
So here’s a look back at some of the most controversial album covers in hip-pop.
Nas, Untitled, (2008)
The controversy with this album starts back with the original title, N****r. Nas eventually settled on the name Untitled to please the public, but in turn went with this album cover, which features the rapper baring his back with whipping scars that form the letter “N.”
Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
The original album artwork by artist George Condo depicts Kanye West sippin’ a beer while simultaneously being straddled by a nude deformed angel/demon. It’s art, right? Well, a variety of stores weren’t letting this fly and ultimately banned the album from being sold in their locations, followed by a good ol’ Kanye rant. This resulted in Condo creating a series of less provocative covers.
The Strokes, Is This It (2001)
This original cover features a simple picture of a woman with a leather glove clad-hand resting on her lower back. This cover received mixed responses, either deeming it as too “suggestive” or even “sexist,” while others found it completely artistic.
Geto Boys, We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
The Geto Boys are probably best known for doing almost everything different and being pioneers of Southern rap music. This gory cover depicts member Bushwick Bill being pushed in a gurney by his other group mates after his girlfriend shot him in the eye.
The Roots, Things Fall Apart (1999)
The 1999 cover is a photo of two black teenagers being chased by police in Bed Stuy, New York during a civil rights protest. While some people found the cover to be “too real” and “bothersome,” others named it one of the greatest album covers of all time.
Nirvana, Nevermind (1991)
While this album went on to become Nirvana’s most well-known and critically acclaimed album, it didn’t come without some controversy. The cover features a baby boy underwater with a dollar bill waving in front of him. Cute, right? The only thing was that you could see the baby’s “little bits.” Alternate covers were soon released, blocking out that minor detail.
2LiveCrew, As Nasty As They Wanna Be (1989)
The cover, as well as the content of this album (the music was banned in certain parts of the country, as it was ruled obscene), caused quite the drama. But the “Me So Horny” group stood by their music and this cover.
Prince, LoveSexy (1988)
Prince has always been incredibly open about his sexuality. However, when he released this album that depicted him nude, hair flowing, and surrounded by flowers, people were a bit taken aback.
Vampire Weekend, Contra (2010)
The New York-based band Vampire Weekend faced a lawsuit when the woman pictured on their cover came forward, claiming that the band never asked for her permission. The Polaroid was taken in 1983, and was chosen randomly by one of the band-members, who was entranced by it. But what was originally a random act of creativity spun into a $2 million lawsuit (that was eventually dropped) and a heated debate on copyright.
The Game, Jesus Piece, (2012)
The cover – released via Instagram – portrays a black Jesus clearly depicted as a Piru Blood (a gang that The Game is supposedly part of), surrounded by gang-related symbols.
PHOTO CREDIT: Instagram