The Art History of Pusha T: 14 Influences on My Name Is My Name’s Cover

Earlier this week, Pusha T shared a stream of his upcoming album, My Name is My Name. The album’s two striking covers were created by DONDA, the mysterious, Kanye West-directed all-in creative agency that also did cover art for 2 Chainz’ sophomore LP along with lots of Kanye projects—the seven-screen Cruel Summer movie experience, the Yeezus cover and the “Blood on the Leaves” VMA performance. My Name Is My Name’s minimal cover art may be inspired by Pusha’s stripped-down vocal style, but it’s more likely a nod to a rich set of fashion and art history references. The stark black and white forms recall Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist grammar, while the alternate cover’s silhouetted portrait bears a close resemblance to civil war-era paper-cut portraits, as interpreted by contemporary artist Kara Walker. There are also echoes of iconic photographs, from Michael Haslbland’s famous image of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Bob Dylan’s back-lit hair, Andy Warhol’s self portrait, or Ciara’s Speechless album cover. Pusha’s oversized barcode, a call out towards an increasingly on-the-grid culture used for the album’s main cover, follows a famous 1978 Mad magazine cover and the barcode tattoos from William Gibson’s short story Johnny Mnemonic. Spanning all that and more, here’s a brief breakdown of possible influences on Pusha T’s works of art.

1. Michael Haslbland, Knock Out Punch, Andy Warhol & Jean-Michel Basquiat Studio. 1985.


2. Kara Walker, Untitled. 1994-1995.


3. Seth Price, UNTITLED. 2008.


4. Mad magazine cover. April, 1978.


5. Bob Dylan, Greatest Hits LP. 1967.


6. Ciara, Speechless LP. 2010.


7. Richard Serra, Stop B S. 2004.


8. Andy Warhol, Triple Elvis. 1963.


9. Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait. 1986.


10. Coolio, Fantastic Voyage: The Greatest Hits. 2001.


11. Allen McCollum, Collection of Thirty Drawings. 1988/1992.


12. Lamberto Bava, Demons. 1985.


13. William Gibson, “Johnny Mnemonic.” 1981.


14. Kazimir Malevich, Black Square. 1915.

POSTED October 3, 2013 12:25PM IN MUSIC NEWS Comments (4) TAGS: , , , , ,

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  1. hello says:

    And the album title is a reference to the wire. Marlo in season 5. I ave high hopes for it…as long as it is better than his mixtapes.

  2. manholup says:

    you forgot nu-metal band slipknot with the barcode reference…or does that make this not cool anymore?

  3. Isometircide says:

    Just Damn,

    
In a year ladled with many major releases, Pusha T’s, My Name Is My Name some how manages to buck both trends and every other major release, to be become one of best records released this year. In many ways it seems to be Yeezus done right, while the rest reaks of raw undiluted metaphors and lyrical skill. But where Yeezus and Magna Carta Holy Grail failed, My Name Is My Name gets it so right. Pusha T has undoubtedly cemented himself as a true quality driven artist with this LP.



    Every track feels carefully thought out and is mechanically sound, while all featured artists are utilized to their max potential, enhancing both the mood and style of the album. (Especially Kendrick Lamar on Nosetalgia) All of the beats are both creative, while still folding into the album nicely. Particular Standouts include those done by the Neptunes and Good Music.

    
Pusha T is quite effective at painting a lifestyle good bad turned to artist hungry to reach the top of the game. While Yeezy, excellent production serves as a suitable backdrop. The different between this and Yeezus, however is that Pusha T, truly retains the lyrical ability to back it up.

    
It is difficult not to reap this album enormous praise, when it so perfectly delivers on exactly what was promised.



    Perhaps the only real “issue” with this LP are the questionable additions of MC; “Big Sean” and “2 Chainz” neither of which can even come close to holding their own lyrically with Pusha. Both of there versus feel unintentionally awkward and funny on and all but introspective and fascinating album.

    
Yet, neither of them are truly enough to detract from the album as a whole.


    Surely, a classic in the making.

    
A well deserved, 4.5 out of 5.

  4. Massacred says:

    Good article, but I took the album cover as drawing parallels between moving “White Bricks” and “White LP’s.” To me the statement says, for Pusha T he sees the them both as the same, with Blow Up bar code, telling us he’s simply just trying to keep Pushing.

    Great Art for thematic presence