It’s no secret that the most prized albums in hip hop often have a beautifully crafted cover. Moreover, when I think about some of the greatest and most critically acclaimed projects in hip hop history, they too often have memorable covers that we remember forever.
I believe a perfect example of this could be Kanye West’s third studio album, “Graduation.” Loved by both fans of West and critics, “Graduation” represents a triumph in his career, filled with honest songs exuding ultra confidence. Without a doubt, “Graduation” symbolized West taking the crown and reaching superstardom.
Fittingly, the cover for “Graduation” exudes the same energy.
It features West’s iconic bear character, being launched into the sky, with graduation caps being thrown in the air. The colors are bright and fun, and personally my favorite part is the large, sparkly chain, seen on the bear.
When it comes to my personal favorite rap albums, typically, their covers make me like them even more.
Another that comes to mind is the cover for “Doris” by Earl Sweatshirt. Shot by skater and close friend of Earl, Jason Dill, the cover features Earl with a grim and sleepy look, turned away from a cross on the wall, which has a bag over Jesus’ head.
Just like the cover for “Graduation,” the cover for “Doris” sets the tone before the music even starts playing.
Even outside of hip hop, I don’t think the genius minds behind the covers of our favorite music projects are appreciated enough. Personally, I love many of the covers of Billie Eilish, but I rarely see people discussing the creatives that made her covers come to life.
If you’re a fan of hip hop, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of the industry’s booming scene on Soundcloud. Some of your favorites may have started their careers on there, while your future favorites may be building up their fanbase right now on the streaming service.
Soundcloud is an endless source of rap artists who could have a hit song at any given moment. Notably, some of today’s rap superstars made a name for themselves on the platform such as Playboi Carti and Ski Mask The Slump God.
The artists that are garnering attention on Soundcloud, just like any other, have to equip their songs and projects with artwork that sets the tone for the music to come.
Behind the scenes of aspiring rappers on Soundcloud lies graphic designer, Tylerissoepic, one of the platform’s most recognizable designers. Still in his teenage years, Tyler’s artwork is plastered all over the Soundcloud scene. His single and album covers are easily some of the most unforgettable pieces you can find on the site.
Tyler’s work and story was introduced to me fairly recently, but since then, I knew his story, just like countless other artists in the music industry, deserves to be told.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Tyler fell in love with rap at a young age and knew quickly that when he grew up, he wanted to work within the music industry.
Some of his favorites growing up were 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, Chief Keef, and Kanye West. Taking inspiration from the biggest names in hip hop set up a perfect path to often learn from the best.
Tyler’s personal favorite album covers of all time are Lil Wayne’s iconic “The Carter IV” and “Graduation” by Kanye West.
One thing that was consistent throughout his entire life has been drawing; it’s been an interest since he was a kid and eventually he began to try digital art as well.
Drawing wasn’t the only thing on his mind though, growing up, Tyler also pursued his interests in photography, videography and music production.
However, like many other Gen Z kids, Tyler used Youtube as an important tool to sharpen his skills. By searching up tutorials for digital design and constantly improving, it became clear that his future was looking very bright.
He didn’t only become proficient in the creation of covers, he tirelessly improved by taking on an array of different jobs. These included: logos, cartoons, collages, banners, profile pictures and more.
He began posting his work onto Twitter and Instagram, which quickly garnered the attention of both artists and labels alike. Some of the very first artists to notice his work were Rojas On The Beat, M A E S T R O, Squidnice and Sad Frosty.
The Come Up
In my interview with Tyler, I asked about what the feeling was like getting his artwork recognized for the first time.
“The feeling was amazing, I remember posting my work on Instagram and Twitter when I first started creating art and trying to gain the attention of big names. At first, I didn’t think much of it because I was designing as a hobby, but it eventually turned into a career and lifestyle,” he said.
The sky was the limit at this point, and eventually Rojas On The Beat, who famously co-produced XXXTentacion’s breakout hit, “Look At Me!”, gave a young Tyler multiple opportunities to create covers for his trending songs.
On the topic of designing for Rojas On The Beat, Tyler said, “Rojas On The Beat gave me the opportunity to design the cover art for more than half of his songs at the time which helped me gain a sense of designing for big songs. It was wild seeing my work as the cover for big songs at the time.”
Additionally, he designed multiple covers for Squidnice, including “A Lot” and “Nothing for Free.”
Sad Frosty worked with Tyler on numerous occasions, and eventually Tyler designed the cover for “SadSouljaFrosty!” which features Soulja Boy.
Finally, M A E S T R O selected Tyler to create the cover art for “She Wanna” featuring Rich The Kid and other songs.
From this point on, Tyler’s career as a graphic designer began to blossom, gaining the recognition of 1017 Records, Lil Gnar, 24k Goldn, WARHOL.SS, and countless others who appreciated the work Tyler was putting in the Soundcloud scene.
His work has been acknowledged by one of the most recognizable names of the Soundcloud world and now of rap in general, Cole Bennett.
After all these years of designing, I asked Tyler to weigh in on his favorite album artwork that he has done.
“My favorite piece that I’ve designed would have to be between Smokepurpp’s “Florida Jit” album, Comethazine’s “2 Seats”, and Smokepurpp featuring Lil Mosey, “We Outside,” he said.
Tyler’s Current Creative Mind-State
Tyler outlined for me his process for designing — everything starts off with a bit of brainstorming of what could fit the vibe of the album or track.
From there, after finding a general direction to go, Tyler designs until he has something both him and the client can agree on. Most of the time, satisfaction isn’t achieved after one design.
It takes a lot of different ideas and hard work to finalize a design, but once done, there isn’t much doubt that the artwork fits the song or project perfectly.
In an interview with Across The Culture, Tyler also explained what in his opinion makes a good cover art.
“Something that stands out, something that not a lot of people have seen before whether it’s a simple design or an extremely complex design. Color schemes are also very important, certain colors mix really well together and pop out to the viewers. When designing a cover it’s important to design something that would fit with the artist’s style, stand out to everybody listening and make the viewers want to listen to the song.”
His creative process and mindset with designing is clearly evident throughout all of his bodies of work. In the same interview with Across The Culture, Tyler gave a bit more insight on how the cover for Smokepurpp’s “Florida Jit” came to life.
He explained that it was actually Smokepurpp’s idea to include his younger self in the album cover, so Tyler ran with it and did his best to match the energy of the album.
He took it upon himself to add the defining features of Smokepurpp to the baby picture, such as the tattoos and jewelry that fans of Smokepurpp know and love.
Inzei Records and the Future for Tylerissoepic
Inzei Records, which translates to Royalty Records, is a record label founded by Rojas On The Beat. After working with a teenage Tyler on numerous projects, Rojas gave the opportunity to Tyler to come out to Los Angeles and work with Inzei Records as a graphic designer and, from there, the rest is history.
“Since then I’ve learned so many important skills within the industry and made so many timeless memories. I’m grateful for the opportunities Rojas presented me with early on and I can’t wait to progress further with the team.”
Since 2015, Inzei Records has been growing rapidly, continuously backing the underground rap scene on Soundcloud. One of the companies defining moments so far has been releasing XXXTentacion’s “Look At Me!” which has been certified a platinum record by the RIAA.
Now that Inzei Records has partnered with Warner Bros. Studio, the sky’s the limit for Rojas, Tyler and the rest of the team’s potential.
Meanwhile, Tyler as an individual, at this point, simply wants to keep perfecting his craft and eventually work his way to the top. While graphic design has already become his full-time job, he said there are many more accomplishments waiting to come and goals to be reached.
However, even after amassing over 20K followers on Instagram and millions of views on his artwork, it’s still important for Tyler to remember where he came from and the people who believed in him since day one.
“I’m extremely grateful for everybody who has shown love, supported me, and presented with opportunities along the way. I can’t wait to see what I’ve accomplished in a couple of years.”
While the next generation of rappers continue to grow their fanbases on Soundcloud, it’s important to remember that a new generation of kids are also showing off skills other than rapping.
There is a sea of producers and designers on the platform, just like Tyler, who will push rap into new boundaries within the next few years.
It’s no secret that today’s teens are setting the trends nowadays, Tyler and the rest of Generation Z are full of diverse talent. It’s time we recognize their talents and efforts as the next generation rolls in.