Honoring #BestBlackAlbumCovers

What are the best all-time album covers by black artists? Google #BestBlackAlbumCovers and find out.

On December 23, 2015, @SonofBaldwin started tweeting his favorite album covers from black artists, using the hashtag #BestBlackAlbumCovers. What followed was Twitter on its best day. #BestBlackAlbumCovers started trending as the Twitterverse began contributing a wide-range of opinions, with ideas coming from journalists such as Charles Blow and Shaun King and many everyday people like you and me.

I got immersed posting some of my #BestBlackAlbumCovers that capture powerful images, such as the sensual, bare-chested Al Green gracing the cover of Greatest Hits and Isaac Hayes’s striking bald head on Hot Buttered Soul. I participated in some fun “Wow, you like this album, too?” moments with people I’d never met — an unexpected joy and a purely organic phenomenon.


My new SlideShare highlights some of the covers that turned my Twitter stream into an inspired collection of some of the best album covers ever made by any artist of any color. What makes #BestBlackAlbumCovers especially significant is how they reflect the many dimensions of black culture. The scarred shoulders on the cover of Nas’s self-titled album express both the pain of being black and the strength required to overcome that pain. Nina Simone’s expressive eyes on Forever Young, Gifted & Black make a powerful statement about black pride.


The florid fashions depicted in the Isley Brothers’s Showdown and Teddy Pendergrass’s Duets — Love & Soul capture a style sensibility that only a handful of black soul and funk musicians could pull off. Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On will forever express a certain kind of indescribable urban cool.

Many of the album covers make strong statements about what it means to be black in America, including the aforementioned Nas, Sly & the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. These covers are not always the easy to look at, but that’s the point of something like It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. These covers are not meant to make you feel comfortable (especially if you are white). They serve as reminders of the racism, injustice, and inequality that characterize the contemporary black experience.


Most of all, all the album cover art featured in #BestBlackAlbumCovers invites you to listen to the music inside the albums, experience the musicians’ art, and maybe even learn something about yourself and the world around you.