In the summer of 2016 i painted the album cover for danish rap artist Machacha.
The album has a heavy, dusty 90's hip hop sounding style. The lyrics are rough with a lot of absurd and violent but funny wordplay and imagery. Cartoon violence! With a loooot of references to gorillas.
I wanted to get that across in my art for the album cover.
In the chorus for the first track Machacha lays it all out: ”I drink tiger blood, it strenghtens my gorilla heart.”
Well, look no further for a concept! I'll just paint that!
So i started examining that idea.
My first vision was a still depiction of ”after the battle” with the triumphant gorilla bent over the slayn tiger drinking it's blood from a chalice.
A quiet and solemn samurai-like moment.
This approach had a lot of mood and could have made a beautiful painting.
But i felt that maybe it was a bit too pretentious for this particular purpose.
After all the lyrics have a lot of comedy and bravado to them. And we're dealing with an in-your-face type of music genre.
So i felt we needed a more action packed shot.
Enter the cartoon violence i mentioned!
Machacha's lyrics are very explicit. He's a bad ass throwing lyrical punches, claiming he's a Gorilla that'll take on anybody and doesn't give a f***.
And the battle element is very crucial in hip hop.
So i chose to show the actual fight going down and in good hip hop spirit i chose to take it over the top and have the gorilla actually punching it's fist all the way through the tiger while sipping on blood from a pimp cup-like chalice.
It's the perfect metaphore for what Machaca is trying to do lyrically on this album.
And it's like a splash page from some weird comic book that never was.
I mainly work with traditional 2D tools, but i was on vacation with only my Wacom Cintiq Companion 13” art tablet, so i painted this artwork digitally.
I used a range of digital brushes -mainly some that simulate oil painting and some more crayon-like.
I don't remenber exactly which ones, because I change them up constantly depending on which one will give me the effect, I have in my head. But they were all made by the awesome Kyle Webster, who make killer digital brushes that look like traditional art tools.
Finally I drew the lettering by hand.
The end result came out really well. The response was so good that we decided to make 50x50 cm art prints of the painting.
They're actually available HERE.
The album came out as a vinyl album that quickly sold out.
It's also available as a digital download for free, if you wanna check it out HERE.
I put together this little video of the process and more with music from the album under it: