"The Art Behind the Tape" is a Coffee Table Book exploring the History of Mixtape Cover Art.
For those that know me and specifically those who are in my email database,it is a known fact that i have been toying around with this "History of Mix tapes" project for quite some time. After purchasing a book on rappers and there jewelry collection(BLING BLING),i started to think about what other hip hop related stories there are that haven't been told. Very naturally it dawned on me that no one has told the story about the history of mix tapes,especially the cover art. I found that interesting, especially since it's such a global phenomenon. For months i wrestled with the idea, i even thought i would give it to another writer,and let them tell the story(bad idea,glad i didn't do it). So i took to the drawing board and started to put pen to the pad and jot down a list of dj's who shaped the game. Finally my idea started to take some shape and form. The initial idea shifted a little though. At first i was going to write a coffee table book based on the entire history of the mix tape movement. Then i decided,nah maybe i will film a documentary on the history of mixtapes (in the works as i type). So now that the idea has some form and shape to it,i again put pen to the pad and started to shake it up a bit. Since i plan on directing a documentary on the entire history of mixtapes, I figured the book should be a little different. Me and my creative team decided to focus on the cover art instead of the dj's. This new direction allows for the documentary and book to focus on mix tapes but from two different angles.
I remember as a kid i would stare at album covers and marvel at some the art work. For instance A Tribe Called Quests "Low End Theory", De La Soul's "3 Feet High and Rising",to Big Daddy Kane's "Long Live the Kane". All three covers gave you a mental picture of the music before you heard one song. Surprisingly mix tape covers have taken on the same role. For example, Dj Drama's early Gangsta Grillz series artwork looked better than some of those artists album covers. When Dj Clue wanted to separate himself from the pack,it was the imagery done by the crew from P Type Graphics. History was starting to repeat itself in a very important way.
With all of these thoughts bouncing in my head,i thought what better way to represent them than to write a book displaying this very dope piece of mix tape history. From that thought forward i decided to put together a coffee table book displaying a visual history of mixtape art. From the days when the Kid Capri's of the world just wrote dates on their tape "Kid Capri 2-18". To the current era where a mix tape dj would commission a skilled graphic designer to craft a piece of marketable art that would allow the tape to compete with an album.
So there you have it,my idea in all its glory. I felt the best way to do it is for me to do it. Going the traditional route and seeking a publishing house would be cool,but what if they wanted to change the direction? What if they only wanted to cover the dj's they felt were MTV material,no thats not the real story. I want to tell the story from an insiders perspective,from the perspective of a kid who bought and coveted mix tapes. I want the visual history to include the Dj Green Lantern's as well as the Dj iroc's,and everyone in between.
At its core hip hop is all about independence and self expression. I feel it is my duty as a card carrying member of the hip hop community to tell this story the right way!