Enter the 36 with the Respirator’s Pledge – The Album Covers & their Art

Posted on June 19, 2013

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What is defined by great album cover-art?

What is good art? More specifically, what is great art that is made to compliment an album’s sound? One can manage to pull out a myriad of webpages and articles alike that highlight what some of the best and/or greatest album covers have been in recent music history. The question arises: who is calling the shots and deciding what merits to be classified as good cover art and great cover art? Such is a question that will resonate a plethora of opinions and responses with varying positions that are justified by what may be strong bias for a certain album or artist(s).

For the incompetent and musically confused, one must define cover-art. Truth is, in today’s digital realm, many younger music listeners may be likely to now own a cassette or vinyl as they are always downloading music onto their devices. As result, the purchasing of physical copies of music is on a decline. Kids these days don’t really buy physical copies of albums at the volume other youth cultures were known to have done. As result, they dont have that “physical” interaction with the music which functions as a significant and fundamental part of enjoying any album’s experience. I, Mickey Boston Kovaks find this to, simply put, be a shame.

In essence, technology reduces the interaction to one that is rather virtual, in a nutshell, an interaction that is confined to the screen. Undoubtedly, the album cover itself is known to logically be what is the front of the packaging of an audio recording product, or album. There is no hiding that some album covers have been controversial whilst others have been stunning. There are just too many album covers that have stood out throughout the course of music history, and, as result, this piece will not be focused on any of them.

The sleeve of an album is quintessential; it is a very important and central part of the musical experience. Every detail is meticulously placed and strategized, and in the case of both the projects Mickey Boston was involved with, is of no exception. Let’s be realistic, the album cover itself is a component of the overall packaging of any given album.

The original cover of the “Enter the 36 Tentacles” debut album of Mickey Boston and graffiti artist Regimental Oneton. The 15-track album is signed on Planet Break Records and is available on iTunes. The album is the result of an unlikely merge between a conscious boombap emcee and a crass graffiti emcee who bring together a rather intriguing tentacled journey into hiphop.

The original cover of the “Enter the 36 Tentacles” debut album of Mickey Boston and graffiti artist Regimental Oneton. The 15-track album is signed on Planet Break Records and is available on iTunes. The album is the result of an unlikely merge between a conscious boombap emcee and a crass graffiti emcee who bring together a rather intriguing tentacled journey into hiphop.

It remains such that vinyl records themselves were made on cardboard sleeves. The original art of the Enter the 36 Tentacles album was also executed on cardboard. Truth is, Regimental Oneton was not looking for a vintage type of throwback canvas for the album cover, one should not over-analyze or over-think the art, the cardboard was selected because it sort of was there and Oneton simply grabbed it and executed his art. Ten minutes later, the art was taking full shape in front of Mickey Boston, photographer Olivier Chwaiki and artist Mireille R. Champagne who was to then execute the album’s spindle art.

How the Spindle art was done. Mireille R. Champagne was the artist behind the album's spindle art while Brosky and Oneton sat on the couch with Oscar chilling at Tentacles Central. Photograph by Olivier Chwaiki.

How the Spindle art was done. Mireille R. Champagne was the artist behind the album’s spindle art while Brosky and Oneton sat on the couch with Oscar chilling at Tentacles Central. Photograph by Olivier Chwaiki.

Both the Enter the 36 Tentacles and the Pledge of the Respirator album covers were designed in a manner in which the art would accurately reflect and depict the specific sound and melodic mood of the albums. The Enter the 36 Tentacles album is undeniably described as a Beast of an album. Almost every track hits hard but is also thematically linked somewhere, somehow, to the theme of tentacles. Here, the art was intent on having a female figure with tentacled hair in like manner that Medusa was known to have serpent hair. Despite such gives, aside from the tentacle hairs, the female figure was to have a rather galactic and rather uncanny feel to her, in other words, as if she was uncanny and incomprehensible.

The album’s opening track, “Galactic Mookie” is to set the rather mysteriously galactic-mutant-oriented trajectory of the album itself. Mickey Boston addresses “Mrs. Galactic Medusa” as he and Regimental Oneton narrate their galactic travels amongst mutants. In essence, the album itself is set between planet Earth and another mutant nebula in which the two emcees are known to travel from to and fro between tracks. The fact that the art was done on cardboard meant that the cover was bound to have a yellowish mustard hue which was the look that both Mickey Boston and Regimental Oneton were going for. Regimental Oneton, indifferent to the color of the female entity asked Mickey Boston what color he wanted: raspberry or blue. Blue was randomly selected on the part of Mickey Boston and ten minutes later, the rest was history.

The large piece of the album's original cover art which was done on cardboard by Regimental Oneton. The final product is the album cover for the "Enter the 36 Tentacles" which is a beast of a hiphop album which breaks conventions normally associated with hiphop.

The large piece of the album’s original cover art which was done on cardboard by Regimental Oneton. The final product is the album cover for the “Enter the 36 Tentacles” which is a beast of a hiphop album which breaks conventions normally associated with hiphop.

The tentacle and tentacle braid was immediately added by artist Mireille R. Champagne who took care of the tentacles by hand and who immediately also handled the execution of the tentacles on the album spindle which was also hand-drawn. The aesthetic presentation of the album was taken in extremely high esteem and priority to Mickey Boston whilst Regimental Oneton was not really concerned at all and left all creative control in the hands of Mickey big Brosky Boston. The font of the album cover was also selected by Mickey Boston and if one notices more carefully there is black smoke flirting with the side of the album cover.

The black smoke is significant to the album cover design while the white bordering around the album cover is intent on giving the album a polaroid-like feel. The “Parental Advisory Explicit Content” is not of the standard genre and is instead complimentary to Regimental Oneton’s stencil style. Here, the Parental Advisory is given that a stencilled look. The album spindle, designed by Mireille R. Champagne was firstly hand-made and then imposed on the spindle itself. The spindle was customized to be tentacles in order to compliment and remain consistent with the album’s theme of tentacles.

How it was made. The art was executed by Regimental Oneton and knocked out in ten minutes. Here is the live photograph of the brief process shot and captured by Olivier Chwaiki.

How it was made. The art was executed by Regimental Oneton and knocked out in ten minutes. Here is the live photograph of the brief process shot and captured by Olivier Chwaiki.

The panels of the album are rather unique and are a first in hiphop: Mickey Boston is intent on providing his fans with 36 wonderful and odd “fact” about tentacles however, within the 26 facts happen to be some rather intriguing opnions on the part of the emcee who is poised on delivering all sorts of weird ideas and points of view floating and simmering in his stream-of-consciousness. Regimetal Oneton’s side of the album booklet is focused on a slight diary entry that provides a recipe for friend tentacles that serves two. Mickey Boston insists that EVERYONE try the recipe and let him know how the experience was.

Undeniably, the album is brilliantly put together and is rather creative and intriguing to say the least. The water-color illustration by Regimental Oneton was selected for the inside of the album’s jewel case. Here, the art is a step away from the spraycan medium and is instead manifested through the paintbrush medium. The art is a rapid sketch executed on the part of Oneton and is strongly fitting in regards to not having a serious tone to it, the illustration is light and pivots the two emcees amongst tentacles.

36 facts and other findings by Mickey Boston. This is a different type of hiphop for the fiends.

36 facts and other findings by Mickey Boston. This is a different type of hiphop for the fiends.

Regimental Oneton provides the recipe that is strongly encouraged. Tentacles that serve two is Romantic good-look for any hiphop head or otherwise.

A delicious recipe that serves two is found on Regimental Oneton’s inside panel, Mickey Boston encourages all of you to try it and let em know about the experience.

The backside of the album is a rather interesting dynamic captured by the photography of Olivier Chwaiki. The photography itself BEST depicts both emcees and their opposite styles; Mickey Boston assumes his natural humble stance as a Cancer and Regimental Oneton, the Virgo is really breaking out his side. The photgraphy is brilliant because it best represents both artists and their very different personalities and artistic styles. The tracklisting is provided in which producers are given a different color as it was very important to both emcees that each producer got his due and credit vis-a-vis their contribution to the production of the album itself.

Mickey Boston and Regimental Oneton stand in front for their pose whilst Oneton's art is in the background. Photography by Olivier Chwaiki.

Mickey Boston and Regimental Oneton stand in front for their pose whilst Oneton’s art is in the background. Photography by Olivier Chwaiki.

From a marketable perspective, the cover of the Enter the 36 Tentacles was designed with the intent of having fans appreciate the fact that the contributing artists of the album were directly involved in the entirety of the album’s creative process without the interference of an undesired third party. Indeed the album itself is packaged as a collector’s item, a work of art before it is even put in the cd player. The listening experience is one thing whilst the art is another however, the total package is intent to be a compelling package of art where art and music and visual aesthetic all meld into one cohesive unison.

Such can also be asserted about Journeymen’s debut EP whose art was mastered by the efforts of producer/emcee, John Wholetrain. Here, like the Enter the 36 Tentacles album, Journeymen’s EP, Pledge of the Respirator is an EP that is customized to a very specify sound that is catered to a rather nostalgia for that Golden Age sound however, with a more contemporary lyrical delivery and context. The EP cover is intent of depicting a cult-like Armageddon occurring behind three elegantly clad Journeymen attired in tuxedos. The juxtaposition of elegance and chaos is one that is rather notable within the framework of the gas mask-oriented EP.

Released March 26th 2013, Journeymen's "Pledge of the Respirator" EP provides hiphop fiends an original boombap survey that was delivered by the consistent narratives of Mickey Boston Kovaks, John Wholetrain and Melo Malo Paulino.

Released March 26th 2013, Journeymen’s “Pledge of the Respirator” EP provides hiphop fiends an original boombap survey that was delivered by the consistent narratives of Mickey Boston Kovaks, John Wholetrain and Melo Malo Paulino.

Indeed the phenomena behind Alex Steinweiss’s notion of the album cover has come a very long way since the late 1930s. John Wholetrain’s rendition of the Pledge of the Respirator’s cover is indicative of the EP itself; intelligent, grimy, organized, structured and cult-like to say the least. Indeed, a form of symmetry is notable in regards to both emcees next to Wholetrain are holding gas masks while Wholetrain is wearing one over his forehead. The faceless entities behind the three are rendered in a faceless silhouette whilst dead trees are placed as they are not only mention in the EP’s fourth track but are symbollic for environmental destruction and global negligence. Nature is dead. The reality depicted in the EP cover is grim. Despite such givens, the EP is not about a hopeless reality for the greater human condition despite the darkness depicted with John Wholetrain’s artistry for the EP cover. Within the dark state of global politics and hiphop, Journeymen are intent on bringing solutions to the fore as they rhyme through the gas mask medium in order to bring a breath of consciousness to listeners.

There remains no doubt that due to the increased popularity of digital music brings about the need for cover art to be more accessible in digital platforms. As result, high quality graphic design becomes a must. Album art is still considered a vital part of the listening experience to Mickey Boston and a good final product includes solid cover art as part of the package.

Fully produced by John Wholetrain, "Pledge of the Respirator" features the cuts of DJ CASE and mixing by Conn Shawnery alongside a finalized product mastered by studio DRX.

Fully produced by John Wholetrain, “Pledge of the Respirator” features the cuts of DJ CASE and mixing by Conn Shawnery alongside a finalized product mastered by studio DRX.

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