I was already a fan of Fela Soul, Amerigo Gazaway’s full album mashup of Fela Kuti and De La Soul tunes, so when he asked me to do the cover for Yasiin Gaye, the second volume of his project mashing up the music of Mos Def and Marvin Gaye, it took me a hot second to mull it over before saying yes.

The record has something of a backstory. Gazaway’s previous release, Bizarre Tribe, which set the vocals from The Pharcyde over the music of A Tribe Called Quest, met a quick internet death.  It was effectively shut down by Sony, who cited copyright infringement despite the fact that Gazaway wasn’t actually sampling ATCQ – he was sampling the same jazz and funk recordings that the Tribe had sampled for their recordings. Big fat irony, right? (For a fantastic documentary on the evolution of the fair use exception in regard to art in general and remix/mashup music in particular, watch RIP: A Remix Manifesto, which features Girl Talk.)

So, this new release felt like it had a mission, like it was part of a thrill ride, or more to the point, a chase. And that was reflected in the imagery that we chose. This was an initial contender: 06

but in the end we chose to make it an airplane or a spaceship, because that seemed to fit better. And it wasn’t going to be so much of an action scene, but more of a conceptual journey, with Gazaway piloting Yasiin Bey and Marvin Gaye to new heights as they confabbed about their new venture.



cover rough 2a

final bw scan

and after a few drafts it came together nicely.

Yasiin Gaye The Return_finalcover

For the reverse side (yes, there is a back cover, even on a mostly digital release, because it will eventually make it’s way to vinyl), we wanted to echo the same comic theme from a different angle. If you think about the detective-style bulletin boards used to track suspects, as seen on The Wire or Homeland, that’s what we wanted, but with the Recording Industry Association of America being the ones doing the sleuthing.




Which became the eventual back cover:


So, that was really fun to do, and it’s even better to listen to. Gazaway’s approach to mashups isn’t the simple A + B = C that many DJs use. He often uses multiple tracks and samples to flesh out the songs and create a real atmosphere, almost like a producer and not a DJ. Go grab the actual music here!



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26 responses to “Mashed

  1. Ingenious creation is difficult, yes, it is art. Therefore the Power and the Artist have to work together, like in the beginning.

    I hope you succeed in your further work.
    Greetings from Norway.

  2. Reblogged this on The Inimitable Dawn and commented:
    I thought this was a interesting.

  3. It’s great to get to see the process. Thanks for the post.

  4. Something really creative and different….good one

  5. Reblogged this on deshefashionshop and commented:

  6. I often wonder about the ‘fashion’ worn by music. I wonder how creative minds collaborate when designing an enticing wardrobe for the musical form beneath. Your post was just perfect for curious folk like me who peer from the outside in. As a kid, I adored purchasing vinyl records with their big, beautiful sleeves – I still miss them – though it seems the LP is enjoying a bit of a revival. I continue to play my old ‘Love Unlimited’ album though it’s quite warped. Thank you for sharing your process. Loved viewing the spontaneous sketches then the polished pieces – wonderful.
    AnnMarie 🙂

  7. Reblogged this on Very Bursty and commented:
    Very cool.

  8. warero

    Reblogged this on Javmode and commented:
    Sounds like its satirical and unreal. Until.

  9. warero

    Reblogged this on BANDR01D and commented:
    Sounds like its satirical and unreal. Until.

  10. artiffairs

    Nice work

  11. artiffairs

    Reblogged this on Artiffairss.

  12. this is a fun post and a clever overview of process – I admit to always had some curiosity as to how album covers were devised (or divined)!

  13. Reblogged this on Reef Richardson and commented:
    Nice illustration designs!

  14. I love this so much!! I commend you! I kinda wanna reblog again lol

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