8 Hip-Hop Album Covers That Go Down In Black History

Hip-Hop Album Cover, Sugar Hill Gang

Hip-hop culture has made it to 50 years, but that doesn’t mean the celebration stops.


To its credit, hip-hop culture has made it to 50 years, but that doesn’t mean the celebration stops. Nope, hip-hop is constantly evolving, whether it’s the art, fashion, language, or the music — especially the music. Staying true to itself and its Black roots, no one can deny that hip-hop is indeed Black history. There’s so much of a rich past to explore that it’s hard to choose which parts to highlight. However, no one can deny the richness of the genre’s albums. Join BLACK ENTERPRISE as we take you down memory lane with these eight historic hip-hop album covers.

1.) Rapper’s Delight, The Sugar Hill Gang

If you know, you know. This album cover is as monumental as the record itself, which was recorded in August 1979 and dropped in September of the same year, introducing many to the hip-hop sound. 

2.) Paid In Full, Eric B. & Rakim

Hip-hop has always been about lyrical skill, dressing fresh, and bragging power, but this album cover changed the game as money and wealth became more visible in hip-hop. 

3.) Shake Your Thang, Salt-N-Pepa

The triple threat group was vibrant on this album cover, rocking one of its many signature looks: catsuits and knee boots and plenty of ’80s jewelry, letter jackets, and Afrocentric hats. 

4.) Mama Said Knock You Out, LL Cool J

In keeping with his moniker, ladies love cool James, LL gave his female audience some eye candy for this one

5.) Ready To Die, Notorious B.I.G.

A chocolate baby with a full Afro graced the cover of Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace’s debut album. It was a refreshing visual for hip-hop albums at the time. 

6.) Return to the 36 Chambers, Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Wu-Tang Clan member Ol’ Dirty Bastard was known as one who pushed the envelope. The late Staten Island rapper held up to the lore by using his old food stamp benefits card for cover art. 

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7.) Stankonia, OutKast 

Front and center is Big Boi and Andre 3000’s Georgia-grown, Southern playalistic style on this album cover. 

8.) Hardcore, Lil’ Kim

This visual is worth a mention, because no one was ready. Lil’ Kim caused an uproar with this poster that came with the album, which became far more popular than the album cover art. 

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