Absolut Art is proud to offer a new collection of prints curated by renowned musicians Rapsody and Moses Sumney, with creative consultant and Founder of Humbleriot, Ant Demby. In this curation, five artists re-imagine whitewashed album covers. For much of the twentieth century, record company executives would place images of white people on album covers of new releases by Artists of Color, arguing that the practice would sell more records.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to rightfully celebrate the musical works of black artists by correcting the history and authenticity of representation on these covers. It is important to rewrite history with truth and see the beauty in blackness as it was always meant to be showcased” –Grammy-nominated, co-curator Rapsody, whose recordings have included appearances by legends like Big Daddy Kane and Raekwon, is signed to 9th Wonder’s, Jamla Records, and Jay Z’s, Roc Nation.
Here, artists Chinaza Agbor, Patso Dimitrov, 19FIFTYTHREE aka Darin Michelle Gilliam, Makeba KEEBS Rainey, and Alexandria Smith re-interpret the original cover albums by artists like Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Public Enemy, and others.
When the massively popular “girl group” The Crystals released “He’s a Rebel” (ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest songs of all time) in 1962, the cover featured an illustration of a white man riding a motorcycle and sporting a leather jacket. In 1978, when “The Tender Side of Ray Charles” was released, its cover showed a white couple (in white turtlenecks, no less), embracing before a pastel background. These are just two examples, sixteen years apart, of how the music industry continually erased Black imagery from Black musical production; artists 19FIFTYTHREE and by Chinaza Agbor interpret those covers anew for this curated project.
“Art has the power to shape beliefs and affect us in subliminal ways we may not realize or understand. Album art is no different. With this collection, we’re reaching back in time to revise the skewed perception of what is commercially viable. I reached out to some of the most exciting emerging Black voices in visual art to help give credit where it’s due.”– co-curator Moses Sumney, inter-disciplinary artist and musician whose latest exhibition technoechophenomena opened at Pioneer Works in New York in September 2021. His second full-length release, græ, was dubbed one of the greatest albums of 2020 by The New York Times, Pitchfork, and Rolling Stone.