While the music is the most important part of an album, people can judge one like a book: by its cover. Christian Rap has many creative and beautiful album covers in its 30 plus year history. We asked on our social media what is CHH’s best album cover of all time. There are so many to chose from, so here are just 10 of Christian Rap’s most iconic and awesome album covers. These are in no particular order. Shout out to Luc DiMarzio for helping with choosing these albums!
10. Da’ T.R.U.T.H – Open Book
While this is considered one of Truth’s best albums, it is also the first album cover that comes to mind when I personally think of him. The cover shows off much of what was trending at the time with the baggy polo shirt and fancy calligraphy. Along with those fashion elements, the genius of this cover is how simple it is. Truth is standing there, ready to give you his music and open himself up like an “open book.” Many consider this 2007 album to be a part of the golden era of Christian Rap, and this cover stands out with the best of the best.
9. Gospel Gangstas – Gang Affiliated
This album is not only known for being a classic piece of music in Christian Rap, but also for its aggressive cover. It harkens back to 1990s gang life, especially with the Gang Affiliated font and low-resolution photo. The most prominent part of this cover is the Bible. It and lighting of the photo are situated to show that the Bible is the source of light being cast onto the rappers. While it’s not the prettiest, it is certainly one of the genre’s most classic album covers.
8. Sho Baraka – Lions and Liars
Lions and Liars is a great project, but its album cover might outshine it. There’s a lot to uncover in this cover, which is why it’s so great. The lion/Baraka face split is to show off the two natures of man they can be, a lion of God or a deceitful sinner. The flaming crown, which signifies how God has made us all kings, has two minor details. At the top of the crown’s peak ridge, there is a mic, and below it on the crown band is the 116 logo. Lastly, the artwork band contains sideways crosses. While this may have been done for stylistic purposes, the choice could’ve been intentional. Baraka may have wanted to use the sideways cross’ symbolism to match the lion/liars natures inside mankind. For those who don’t know, the sideways cross can symbolize Jesus’ call for followers to pick up their cross and follow Him, all the while struggling with the sinful nature.
7. Braille – Shades of Grey
While most do not consider this to be his best album, Braille did very well in designing this cover. Like Lions and Liars, the genius of Shades of Grey lies in its details. As the album depicts, life is filled with blurred lines and decisions where the moral decision seems indistinguishable. Shades of Grey also acts as a double entendre for depressing events such as rape or terrorism. Thus, the majority of the cover is literally shades of gray. All except the flower, which also has different representations. Looking at Braille’s song “Shades of Grey” he reveals that, despite everything evil going on, there are good things in life that you need to focus on. A whole article could be spent on the details of this album!
6. Lecrae – Church Clothes 2
The brilliance of this album cover lies in how many details there are despite the cartoon art style. Everything outside the album title banner is basic streetwear that Lecrae is pointing out should be accepted as church clothes. The color scheme is heavily based on the 116 color scheme of white, black, and red. The white on this album cover is more of a cream color, but Lecrae might have used an off-white to give the artwork a used vibe, like how white clothing changes color as it’s used. Besides containing bangers such as “The Fever” and “I’m Turnt,” Churches Clothes 2 artwork is awesome and a classic for any 116 fan.
5. Corey Paul – Untold Story: Trill Young King
This album cover is a sight to behold. Paul’s most recent album is a tale of his childhood, the traumas he suffered, and how listening and following God in such a destitute place is difficult. He crafts the album to reflect not only his own life but the typical life of a black boy growing up in the American hood. The cover depicts an artistic version of what kids like him grew up in. In the song “Black Heart,” the first 30 seconds present a news anchor talking about the broken political and social nature of where kids like Paul grew up. The graffitied pyramids, the jewelry among the sand, the broken statue of Paul, symbolize the fallen nature of the political structure and Paul himself.
4. Thi’sl – Beautiful Monster
This is arguably the OG rapper’s best album cover. There are many different styles and aspects going on in this piece that makes it so unique. The artwork consists of three features: the cartoon face of Thi’sl in the middle, the edited rough collage taking up the top, and the picture of a city, presumably his hometown St. Louis. The rough collage and picture are both in the background to the face, symbolizing the backstory behind this “beautiful monster.” An interesting stylistic choice is how the artist gave depth to Thi’sl’s face by using concentric circles, much like fingerprints.
3. Cross Movement – Human Emergency
Any Cross Movement album cover could have made this list, but we’ll focus on just this one for now. The entire album follows this theme of God being the ultimate doctor who is healing us of our critical sin nature. The idea is creative, no one really has stuck to this for an entire album, and the album cover reflects that dedication. The entire Cross Movement team dressed just for this. If you look in the back of the group, you can see Earthquake holding a Bible, showing the primary tool to heal us. A classic album with a classic cover!
2. J-son – Growing Pains
Growing Pains cover is beautiful because of how straightforward it is. By Growing Pains, J-son references the pains of transforming from a non-believer into a faithful Christian. The genius of this cover is how simple and obvious it is with the symbolism of a plant growing. Yet it is so creative, who would think to cover themselves with dirt and be the plant? This is the cover most people think of when they hear J-son because of how creative this cover is.
1. Tedashii – Kingdom People
The Reach Record artist’s first album is a sight to behold. While the design itself is simple without much depth, the image marks the beginning of a new age for Christian Rap. Cross Movement had just ended, and the careers of the people behind the 116 Clique were starting to catch momentum. Tedashii, Lecrae, Trip Lee, and the other new artists dropped albums around 2006 that propelled them into the CHH limelight. Some consider this album to be one of the best of that transitional time.