Visual Artist Emek Talks About The Process Behind Erykah Badu’s New Album Artwork by Windowpane
Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Music News, Must Read, Things We're Diggin'

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With Erykah Badu’s new album dropping next week (March 29th 2010), I’ve been listening, quite intensely, to New Amerykah, Part 1: 4th World War. With each listen of that album I discover something completely brand new; be it a lyric, a new sound or an instrument I didn’t know was there. While listening, I decided to check out the album’s artwork again too, which like the music, always offers up something new each time you look at it (in this way it reminds me a lot of Michael Jackson’s Dangerous cover).

…I then moved over to the New Amerykah Part 2: Return of the Ankh album artwork. And while visually dissecting it, I thought about Emek, the artist behind both album covers, and wondered how he came up with it all. I cruised over to his official website (which you should check out, he’s got tons of great pieces) and lo and behold, found that he had written something quite informative about the piece, his process and working with Fat Belly Bella…

In this day and age of high speed internet and robotic carrier pigeons what kind of musician would fly an artist halfway across the country just to discuss the ideas of the album cover in person? and then cook them a wonderful vegan meal and play charades with her kids? Erykah, thats who.

I have worked with hundreds of bands, and i have to say that she is pretty unique. The amount of time and energy she spends on all aspects of her life. She is very creative and hands on, but also respects and encourages the creativity in others. The album cover came about by listening to her music…My previous album cover I made for her, focused on politics and social conditions in the world today things that were weighing on her mind this album is more personal. political elements of the first album are still there, healthcare system in the toilet, police brutality, flawed justice scales, war, etc. and also a few new elements, foreclosed homes and a teabag, etc., but all of these elements have fallen down, lying in rubble behind her..

her song lyrics “You built a wall 20 feet tall / But if I get off my knees / I might recall I’m 20 feet tall” was an inspiration to draw her to be a large face. She is 20 feet tall. also, she is wearing armour to protect her from the harsh realities of life..Her lyrics “out my mind, just in time”, inspired the concept of her climbing out of the old shell, fresh and innocent and powerful, and the tree of life is also growing from there. The color purple of the tree and the sky represent the 7th chakra- the crown chakra, right above her third eye shield, this chakra represents peace, wisdom, spirituality. She is reborn. her tuning fork is summoning the vibrations of the universe..or does that ripple mean the whole scene is underwater? from out of all the rubble, lush exotic plant life is growing. her lyric from “window seat” about her “music, lover and my babies” was one of several lyrics that inspired the symbolism of 3’s

3 moons
3 hidden babies
3 trees
3 ankhs

and the ankh itself is a symbol of duality, of life and death, but what is life without Love? so i made the ankh heart shaped, to give it that power of 3 as well..working with erykah always brings out the best in me and i am proud to be her friend and artist. the vinyl LP record though is really the one to get, the inside of the record has more cool art in it, and as both Erykah and I were raised without a TV in our house, we grew up on record cover art

-emek march, 2010

His description and explanation explains quite a lot about the art. I wondered why the number 3 was so prolific, had no idea it had anything to do with “music, lover and my babies” from “Window Seat”. That’s dope. I think it’s so cool that the album artwork (for both New Amerykah albums) are so important and tell their own story.

Previous: Erykah Badu – New Amerykah, Part 2: Return of the Ankh [Review]

Peace, Love & Erykah Badu


1 Comment so far
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I will be buying this on vinyl! Plus I need to get Part 1 on vinyl too.

I have a limited edition 12″ of The Healer single, which Emek also did the artwork for … it’s amazing!

Comment by SoulUK

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