A graffiti mural tribute to DJ Kool Herc

The Art of the Hip Hop Album Cover

16 March 2018

Local illustrator Emily Catherine will be running The Art of The Hip Hip Album Cover workshop in just under a week – so we asked her to give us a peek in to the world of hip hop culture that we'll be learning about as part of her Paint A Polaroid Workshop based on an iconic album cover:

As I write this, I read that Craig Mack, a rapper signed to P. Diddy's Bad Boy label, has sadly passed away at the age of 46. My timeline is full of mourning Hip Hop heads lamenting on the skills of this revolutionary artist who made the hit 'Flava In Ya Ear'. The Hip Hop community are a faithful lot. It has been over twenty years since Mack released something new, and rumour had it, he had retired from music and joined a religious cult. It's a testament to Hip Hop as a community that we remember those who have made a mark upon the industry, however big(gie) or small(s)!

And that's really what my workshop wants to try and convey. We're talking about Hip Hop as a movement, as a community. Hip Hop has done so much to bridge the gap between high and low art in modern society and it's a testament to the strength of that community. The art of the Hip Hop album cover from its very inception has always been diverse, revolutionary and politically fascinating.

This particular workshop is about the aesthetic of Dizzee Rascal's Boy In Da Corner by Ben Drury and Dean Chalkley. Obviously, Dizzee Rascal is a grime artist, but his roots are very much strongly anchored into the soil of the Hip Hop tree.

I'm so excited about running this workshop. There is so much to cover that I've tried my hardest to make the lecture part like an instant injection of knowledge and a really fun slideshow. We'll talk about why artists make the choices they do when they make an iconic album cover. You can expect a brief history about the origins of Hip Hop, its founding father, the pioneers. We'll have a bit of social history, we'll touch on graffiti and its influence in shaping urban aesthetics, we'll talk about how we identify as urban with our clothes, our colours, we'll talk about Jay Z, Basquait and we'll even look at a renaissance painting and use it to help us understand how to read images.

Afterwards we'll have a practical workshop where we'll take instant black and white photographs based on Dean Chalkley's use of analogue photography for the Dizzee Rascal cover and we'll paint onto the photographs. It's going to be fun and collaborative.

It's a chance to hone your knowledge and have a go at recreating your own Dizzee-esque artwork. When it comes to album covers, Hip Hop has it.

Dizzie Rascal's Boy In Da Corner Album Cover

- Emily Catherine


Top image: A graffiti wall dedicated to DJ Kool Herc at 1520 Sedgewick, the birthplace of Hip Hip.


New Art Exchange
39-41 Gregory Boulevard
NG7 6BE, Uk


0115 924 8630


Opening Times

Mon: Closed

Tues -  Sat: 10:00 – 16:00

Sun: Closed

Closed Bank Holidays

Contact Us

Privacy Policy



We would like to acknowledge the financial support new art exchange has received from our funders and partners.

Supported by

Logos for; Arts Council England, Nottingham City Council

Capital funders

Logos for; Nottingham City Council, East Midlands Development Agency, Neighbourhood Development Company, European Regional Development Fund, Greater Nottingham Partnership, Arts Council England