Erykah Badu + Emek
Israeli-born illustrator Emek is one of the talents keeping poster art alive. Described by Henry Rollins as the “thinking man’s poster artist”, Emek continues many of the traditions of 1960′s psychedelia. His work is always hand drawn and heavily layered, mashing the political and personal; the organic and technical.Emek first worked with Badu on 2008′s critically acclaimed New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)On that cover, Emek focused on the “politics and social conditions in the world today, things that were weighing on her mind.” When Emek listened to New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh), he discovered a new groove-based sound that was “more personal”. The resulting cover art retains the political symbolism – keen eyes will notice new references to foreclosed homes and the Tea Party movement – but this time they’ve receded to the background. We get the feeling that a confident and all-conquering Badu has transcended them.
The above description comes from a website called “Sleevage" that seeks to bring to light the collaborative forces between visual artists and musicians in creating album cover art. I left their explanation untouched because what it describes is one of the purest forms of collaboration out there. Yes it is promotional material, however the product of their working relationship isn’t just about selling records. It is also about communicating the truth of her music through a thoughtful and beautiful image.