We Asked Our Six Favorite Illustrators to Re-Imagine the 'Straight Outta Compton' Album Cover
From the hallucinogenic to the symbolic, via the straight up surreal.
It must be one of the most famous pictures in the history of hip-hop. Dre, Yella, Eazy E, Ice Cube and MC Ren circled in thug synchonicity, firing their eyes at the camera with a nine pointing straight at the lens. Not since, and never will, a picture say "Fuck You" much harder and on such unconditional terms.
So, with Dre's new record now out, and Straight Outta Compton film mania now reaching full tilt, we decided to enlist a few of our favorite UK illustrators - artists who were impacted hard by the music of NWA - to have a pop at reimagining the iconic album cover of their rap heroes. Each person took a radically diferent route; some went full hallucinogenic, some went symbolic and others just went for straight up surreal.
Without further delay, here's six of the maddest and most imaginative reworks of an album cover you'll ever see, briefly explained by the artists themselves.
Pete Sharp: My drawing is supposed to be a kind of sequel to the original artwork. I guess it's a "later that day" scenario. The fact their eyes are all white and the lightning going off in the background is a sort of subtle nod to how fucking cool they are. When I was younger I used to play "A Bitch iz a Bitch" really loud in my bedroom to piss my mum off. As a grown-ass-man I now know that this sentiment is not okay and not all bitches are bitches.
Sam Taylor: Every member of NWA has a distinct role and character within the gang, like TMNT but they’re not mutant turtles, they’re West Coast Rappers. I’ve redesigned them like they’re a cartoon series or the baddies from Space Jam. NWA were too legit for a 90s kids TV show, but if they did make one I think it could’ve looked like this and it would’ve been fucking sick.
Dan Evans: "I wanted to do something that reflected the original cover as much as possible. Initially I just wanted to draw them all in a circle but obviously that’s not particularly interesting or original. Then I was thinking about the gun that Eazy-E is holding and trying to crowbar that in somewhere (I like drawing guns). When I realized that a revolver has 6 chambers and NWA has 6 members… Done."
Tom Slater: "I wanted to make something that was recognisable as the original cover but flipping it on its head. What if they hadn't tried to look intimidating on the album artwork?"
Kyle Platts: "As a teenage white boy in Sheffield, gangster rap resonated with me. The violent lyrics and inimitable drum machine 'beats by Dre' on Straight Outta Compton immediately captured my attention like a wasp landing on my eyeball, and then stinging my eyeball, but I liked it. I even burned this album to mini disc so I could channel the aggression of the lyrics while I tried to learn heelflips in Tesco carpark.
The album cover is one of the most iconic and provocative of all time, so I thought it would be funny to just have them hold a bunch of cute animals."
Charlotte Mei: "Being a fan of stuff is one of my favorite pastimes, so fan art has always come naturally to me. Dr Dre is one of the best producers of all time, imo. For the purpose of this celebratory article I've combined them with my other fave thing; Pokemon. Shout out to all the 20 somethings who still watch Pokemon when no one’s in."
Follow all of our NWA on our Straight Outta Compton hub page.