Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3

As a lot of people already know, Jay-Z is releasing his eleventh studio album next Tuesday. Despite the amount of searing hate and frustration I've encountered over this release on Twitter and message boards, I've enjoyed the tracks I've heard so far. Of course, I've never been a die-hard Jay-Z fan, so my opinion's not going to be as strong as others. But no matter how much you dislike BP3, at least give the album cover some credit.

In an interview with MTV, Jay-Z explains how the mass of instruments on the album cover were used to remind people that hip-hop is still about making music, rather than focusing on radio hits, gimmicks and money. Thanks to Nah Right posting scans of the full CD insert, I found out who's responsible for the cover. Along with art direction by Greg Gigendad Burke, the image was taken by UK-based photographer Dan Tobin Smith who, according to BronImagingBlog, has been shooting professionally since 1999 after graduating from the London School of Communication. Much of his portfolio includes imaginative still-lifes, often set up to play tricks on the eyes of the viewer.

It is similar in execution to what Axel Peemoeller did with the Eureka Tower Carpark, or the popular chalk tromploi street drawings, where standing at a specific angle is necessary for viewing the piece properly. Smith has in his portfolio another piece, "Letter E", very similar to the cover of BP3 (second image), created in 2008, with set design by UK-based set-designer and interior stylist Nicola Yeoman (I'm wondering if she had a hand in the cover as well). The image above shows the set from a different angle. Below is another similar image created for the Creative Annual Review in 2007.

A friend of mind posted this to Facebook. It's a great video of the process behind the cover photo.

Dan Tobin Smith
Nicola Yeoman

Jay-Z Rhapsody Commercial


  1. Wow, not sure how you could have neglected to note the similarities to the Secret Machine's album cover...

  2. Yes, it is similar to the Secret Machines cover in the fact that it has white instruments. But I think it's using the white instruments for a different reason (in order to highlight the red) than that cover did and is more a continuation of what they did with "Letter E", which isn't made up of instruments.