"Dedicated To The Winners & The Losers..." - Raekwon


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Pen & Pixel: A Retrospective

"They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To...Oh, wait..."

I came of age as a hip hop fan in the late '90s. Prior to my settlement upon the opinion that the rap music was the greatest musical medium in the world, I had experimented with a wide variety of musical genres. In my earlier days , you could catch me looking particularly dapper in an over-sized plaid shirt and frayed jeans rocking out to the sounds of Cobain and Vedder; perhaps, if you were truly lucky, you might also find me locked in my room singing into a hair brush to the glorious sounds of Ace Of Base's The Sign (the most umm...let's just say "questionable" album that I paid for with my own money. Nullus on the whole enterprise. In fact, I'm tossing in an extra nhjic for emphasis.) Thankfully for the world, I ultimately made the correct decision and decided that I would devote my life to worshiping at the altar of Clive Campbell and the rest is history. Years of confused looks and "You like rap?" soon followed.

The '90s, to me at least (and those with taste), is the decade of my life that I look upon the most fondly. Rap music was new and awesome to me then so I look upon that age with a certain amount of extreme nostalgia. I was way too young to remember Eric B. extorting Rakim but I definitely can remember Suge Knight extorting Vanilla Ice. Perhaps one of the fondest elements of hip hop that I remember from those day is the visionary genius of the legendary grapic arts firm, Pen & Pixel.

For those of you who don't know (like my Dad) or those who don't care (like my Mom), Pen & Pixel are a Houston-based graphic arts firm that designed some of the most horrifically cheesed-out and trashy album covers the world has ever had the pleasure to view. To frame it in the proper prospective, Pen & Pixel are the John Waters of the Hip Hop album art world. Their body of work that has a mystique an aura of their own that can only described as ghetto trashilicious. As a teenager, I can vividly remember browsing the rap music aisle at my quaint little local entertainment mega-store and picking up a No Limit or Cash Money release and being blown away by the collage of badly photo-shopped Bentleys, iced-out dog collars, giant phallic guns, and trashy third-rate strippers that tickled my young prurient mind. I, of course, promptly set those monstrosities of trash genius down and picked up a copy of Nas' latest opus because I wouldn't be caught dead by an album from a...Southern rap group. Ten years later, I stand by my decision.

Distaste for crappy music from New Orleans aside, I want to explore some of the great pieces of art that Pen & Pixel provided the world with this piece and provided much needed critical commentary and context to these often maligned genius of this group of visionaries. I present to you some of my favorite album covers of the Pen & Pixel-ed oeuvre:


Lil' Sin - Frustrated By Death (????)

I haven't the slightest clue who Lil' Sin is, nor do I know why he is so frustrated by death but this cover is one of the most amazing things ever released for commercial consumption. This looks like Pen & Pixel simply found an old cover of a Cannibal Corpse album and photo-shopped a photo of Lil' Sin performing on Broadway into a skeletal hand and called it a night. Note if you will, the "D" in death. It seems as if somebody forgot to composite the background behind into the D and decided that leaving the interior of the letter black was the right artistic choice. It's inattention to detail like that which makes this piece so visually arresting.

Eightball & MJG - Coming Out Hard (Suave House, 1993)



Eightball & MJG's classic album, Comin' Out Hard, is not only influential on the Southern rap scene but it features one of the earliest work of Pen & Pixel available. Now on first glance, it appears that it's simply a photo of Eightball and MJG sitting in a Ford Mustang near a city skyline but closer inspection quickly reveals early CGI magic. On a closer glance, our heroes heads are disturbingly over-sized and are not actually sitting in the car at all but instead have being magically photo-shopped into a crappy stock photo from your local car show. A closer inspection also reveals the skyline to be a 3D drawing of the finest quality on par with the graphics of Myst. Simply stunning.

Silkk The Shocker - Charge It Da Game (No Limit Records, 1998)

Master P's weed carrying brother's, Silkk the Shocker, album, Charge It 2 Game is vintage Pen & Pixel at it's finest. Their signature style of glossy box letters, horrifically photo-shopped status symbols and generic Microsoft Word-esque fonts all are present and gives this album cover the classic Pen & Pixel look. What I'm particularly enamored with is the font for the album title. It looks as if they completely forgot to place it in the original design and had to quickly stamp it over on top the album, in order for it to be not a self-titled Silkk the Shocker CD. No one needs that.


Mercedes - Rear End (No Limit Records, 1999)


Mercedes was an R&B singer signed to No Limit Records who released one record in the late '90s. I can't say I remember anything at all about her (hence the one record...) but I gotta say this particular album cover is umm... "stimulating." The cover out manages to miraculously out-ghetto Adina Howard's cover for Do You Wanna Ride? But what's most striking about this album... the class.


Lil' Flip - The Leprechaun (Sucka Tree, 2000)
Lucky Charms! Leprechauns! Lil Flip! Do I need to say more?

Eightball - Lost (Draper Inc, 1998)



This is just a cornucopia of photo-shopped crappiness. Pyramids sit next to crashed space shuttles. Vultures stalk used Chevy Cavaliers. Mysterious floating direction signs. The secrets of the Illuminati can be discerned from studying the mysteries of this cover.

Soulja Slim - Give It 2 'Em Raw (1998, No Limit Records)



Soulja Slim brings an overt military theme to his album. I guess he was going the obvious root.

Young Bleed - My Balls & My Word (No Limit Records, 1998)



Pen and Pixel channel the pleasures of air-brushed unicorn t-shirts and a ghetto heaven for Young Bleed's seminal debut album, My Balls & My Word. Those are some glorious tigers! Glorious tigers!


Juvenile - 400 Degreez (Cash Money Records, 1999)



One of the more noted aspects of the Pen & Pixel covers is that the often literal interpretation of the album title. This classic cover for Juvenile's 400 Degreez is the epitome of the aesthetic; Blinged out fonts, melodramatic brimstone, and gyrating women all contribute to a classic cover but it's the flaming walls of the fire that make it unforgettable.

Snoop Dogg - Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told (No Limit Records, 1998)



Snoop's ill-advised move to No Limit Records after Death Row's implosion produced pretty universally awful music. However, this album cover maybe the one good thing that ever came out of the whole debacle. "Da Game Is To Be Sold" personifies the bling-bling aesthetic of the period as the iced out dog collars and European style mansion can attest. Snoop World indeed.


Lil' Wayne - Tha Block Is Hot (Cash Money Records, 1999)



Even at the genesis of Lil Wayne's career, Dwayne Carter had the creepy homo-eroticism down to a science. It's good to know that in the ten years since the album's release that Lil Wayne has neither put on a pound nor gained any muscle definition whatsoever. Put a shirt on, son.


Master P - MP Da Last Don - (No Limit Records, 1998)



This is perhaps the most iconic Pin & Pixel cover in the history of their work. It features Master P, The Originator Of The Style, sporting a black pimp suit, flashing his gaudy jewelry, smoking a large, phallic cigar in a large gothic cathedral. It represents the epitome of all that Pin & Pixel represents to the public. Note: While researching this piece, I came across a story of how Master P and Pin & Pixel became so inextricably linked. P&P had produced a cover for one of Master P's rivals in the early '90s featuring a cover of an Ice Cream truck being blown to smithereens by an explosion. Master P caught feelings over this image, as one of his earliest hits was the seminal "Ice Cream Man", and decided that he would pay visit to the graphic company and beat the shit out of the artists. Pin & Pixel were surprised to learn this and claimed they had no idea what the imagery meant but instead of getting their ass-kicked by an enraged Percy Miller, they offered to help re-brand his fledgling company. The rest they say is history. And to think if this hadn't happened we might not be treated to...

Big Bear - Doin Thangs (Tru Game, 1998)



The Sistine Chapel Of The Genre... .

62 comments:

Ass Hat said...

love it. i'd never come across 'frustrated by death' before, but it's a sentiment we can all relate to.

Zilla Rocca said...

The fuck?

No Skull Duggery? No Mr. Serv-On? Kane & Abel aren't pixeled enough?

The best thing about that era was every month I would get my new copy of the Source, see the 2 page ads for all this garbage, and knew immediately what I wouldn't be buying that month.

I'm curious to see what would've happened if some current rappers use this aesthetic. G-Unit's entire career conceptually is pulled right off of these covers.

Anonymous said...

damn . beautiful, just beautiful. Im actually a total noob and so I aspire to reach such cheesy heights with my photoshop pieces. also , the wayne cover maybe an obvious nod to the classics but unlike the serious 'birth of something great'-type metaphor, tht cover is so captivatingly retarded in a uniquely wayne way. See, now i really want the record to be great so that people are forced to own an album with tht on the cover. also doc, i REALLY didnt need another reminder as to why my purchase of 'da game is to be sold' sucked - my friends use to always flip tht title and criticize stereotypical saggy pant thug images by calling it "boxers are to be worn, not to be shown" peace - jay kay

Anonymous said...

also=, did you notice the silk the shocker 'ghetto express' card with his image on it? ghetto express? is tht even something to brag abt? I always viewed that as silkk presenting his food stamp. It really is hard out there for a pimp - jaykay

Anonymous said...

Sorry to bother again, but your post has cleared touched a nerve. the lil flip cover needs its own post. and lets not just credit bad photoshopping there..just the basic ideas.. "magical sounds of cloverland"? "lil flip the leprachuan"? lil flip biting his lower flip like he's actually an unrepentant, child molestin leprechaun offering your kid candy?? and all of this on "sucka tree" to top it off? forget biggie, lil flip's been having real suicidal thoughts. T.I didnt even have to try there. - jaykay

alex said...

Oh man, this is great. I remember Spin doing an article on Pen & Pixel back in the mid to late nineties, part of it involved cover mock-ups for artists like Nine Inch Nails and Tori Amos. I've been looking for that picture of Trent Reznor sitting on a throne, a castle silhouetted by lightning holding a jewelled chalice (if memory serves) ever since.

alex said...

Turns out my memory is only partially correct, there is no throne or chalice, but it does have some monkeys: http://www.nineinchnails.net/news/specials/monkeys_large.jpg

Trey Stone said...

i didn't wanna make a comment about the new Wayne cover because it wasn't the gist of your whole post, but i think JK calling it "captivatingly retarded" sums it up better than any long-winded post from me could.

although, i'm not always completely sure how intentional some of Wayne's humor is

Ben Westhoff said...

Another great post. I love this blog. (And am also frustrated by death.)

DocZeus said...

Zilla-

I was gonna include Skull Duggery and Mr. Serv-On but this post was taking me literally forever to write and I got bored so I excluded them because I already had enough albums from No Limit so I wanted some diversity. I'll definitely get to them if I do a sequel.

Jay Kay-
I definitely thought the same thing about the Ghetto Express card. It's an underrated aspect of the cover.

Alex-

That Trent Reznor picture is priceless. I would definitely cop that album.

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

not all pen and pixel, but still pretty funny: http://www.torkhum.com/topten.html

also, speaking of secrets of the illuminati, prodigy's newest post at vibe is amazing.

DocZeus said...

Jesus-

The only one I wasn't really sure about was Lil Flip's but which one ain't pen & pixel. I had a hell of a time verifying some of them.

I know for sure Big Bear, Eightball/MJG, Eightball, Sillk, Master P, Lil Sin, Juvenile are for sure but the others...

Jesus Shuttlesworth said...

doc-

i didn't mean to question you, b/c quite frankly i don't know which are p&p's handiwork, i was referring to the link below the comment. my bad about not being clear.

DocZeus said...

Jesus-

Oh ok, yeah those are pretty funny.

Christopher said...

Contrary to the blurb, Cannibal Corpse, awful band as they are, wouldn't just have some lame hand coming out the grave.

That Big Bear cover is the best thing I've seen all week.

Next to this:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/9439501@N05/2403752147/

Shawn Brauch said...

You have an amazing accounting for Pen and Pixel history and work. It was a trend setter in the Hip-hop industry and made a great deal of rapper very wealthy.
The company was sold in 2003, 911 caused major problems for the entertainment field all around, that combined with napster was the final straw. The company at it's peak (1998-2001) was billing almost 6 million dollars a year and was producing more that 23 covers per week. Yes, some were cheesy, some were insane and some were amazing...but the main thing to remember was PPG was a business enterprise, it's function was to please the customers...we had thousands of maverick ideas that would have pushed and developed Hip-hop graphics further and faster...but the clients demand for the "same ol' Bling Bling, Ho's and cars kept the monster fed.
There is a company out there now that have taken the Pen and Pixel Graphics name, but they are not PPG! There is no one there that has worked for Pen and Pixel. For more information on this company and it's history...get it form the person that founded the company back in 1992. Shawn Brauch

DocZeus said...

Shawn-

Wow, I'm honored that you would take the time to comment on my blog. I definitely don't wanna give the impression that I'm totally mocking your firm's work because I actually love these covers. They are definitely cheesy but there is a knowing absurdist humor to it all that shines through as well. I mean the Big Bear cover is just absolutely priceless. That's some sick genius there for real.

I got some questions though. The photoshop work on some of them? Was it a conscious decision as part of an aesthetic for it to look somewhat amateurish or a product of restraint in time or money when doing it? It's definitely memorable either way.

For better or worse, you guys are the definitive look of Southern Rap Music from the late 90s - early 00s. There is a reason, everybody in hip hops knows what "pen & pixel-esque" means when we talk about album art.

Good luck with your future ventures and I'd love for you to comment on some of your work I posted or give insight on what you think your best covers of the period was.

- Doc

Shawn Brauch said...

Doczeus,
Many thanks for the blog in the first place! The issue with the artwork appearing some what less “finished” has much to do with the fact that there were many of those covers that were done by PPG artists, and not all artist have the same style or attention to quality, in addition many of our clients wanted specific elements in the covers...regardless of quality of photo, perspective or lighting considerations. Much if not all of the Cash Money and No Limit artwork was done by “senior designers”, and much of that was photographed at PPG in Houston, Texas.
Many times we would have to hop a jet to New Orleans or LA to complete a shoot.

There were so many covers done, it’s hard for me to think of the one’s that I enjoyed the most. Chris Rock’s Big and Blacker, Juvenile’s 400 Degrees, Lil Wayne’s Lightsout...the list goes on.
We have all moved on from Pen and Pixel days, many of the artists that were working there have started their own companies and have done we’ll. I enjoyed the entertainment industry tremendously and am still involved in the Grammies and hi end special effect artwork, I have two companies now and a new vision for the future. It was great to be part of an upcoming musical wave that changed the way we look at things. Many thanks again for all the great words.

AaronM said...

A fantastic post. I wish I owned that Big Bear cover as a full size poster, seriously.
The comments by Mr. Brauch are really interesting too.
Capital work, Zeus!

Andrew Barber said...

Interesting post and nice to see a PPG artist on here commenting. Amazing really.

Some thoughts/comments

Ball & G: They aren't in a mustang, it's a benz and if you check the back cover you will notice that one of them is wearing a shirt with Looney Tunes characters on them

Silkk: You think that one is bad, you should see C-Murder "Life or Death" that came out around that time. Wow. Rats, snakes, skeleton legs. Deep.

8-Ball: He's actually standing in front of a Chevy Impala. If you'll notice, in the background there is a Dodge Viper sticking out of the ground. That's a nod to their cover of "On Top of the World" which was an equally stupid cover. You should really check into that one.

Juvenile: Why are the girls dancing on in a library that's on fire. What does the library have to do with ANYTHING?

MP Da Last Don: his hand on the cover actually moved when you turned the cover. It was quite possibly the worst idea in the history of hip hop covers.

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Chef Rykwon said...

Nice job. If y'all remember,way way back when, Ego Trip did what I think was their only "fashon layout" and it was all given the once over by Pen and Pixel. I don't remember what issue it was offhand, but it's hysterical.

Master of beatz said...

In my opinion these covers arent ugly, theyre just amateurish, and they show a sort of self-irony, although some covers are just absurd, dont know if BGs CHOPPER CITY cover was made by Pen and Pixel but its entertaining (its raining bullets....)

http://a473.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images01/98/l_60a2cb97c1adcf5e229a13153556dfd0.jpg

Anonymous said...

not all retrospects are an acheivement, a lot bathe in the past and hint at the future, but this was a necessary look back. anyone calling this 'amateurish' has no appreciation for...well, how these could've EVER been done any better than they are....i mean did anyone in the highly respected no limit camp see how fuckking hilarious these were- or was that exactly what Big Bear wanted from the get go?

Mad props for the retrospect!

Shawn Brauch said...

I appreciate the comments and the interest on how the covers at Pen and Pixel were constructed. Let me tell you painstakingly! Some of those covers have 95 layers in them (pieces), (50 hours) each one of those pieces was cut out in the computer (Photoshop) color corrected, and merged in the respective artwork, the shadows and highlights were added.
We even put in reflections. Nothing was missed. The last thing to be added was the Bling stars.
People always think that the diamond encrusted text was a filter of some sort, it was not, the letters were each created in Photoshop specifically for that cover. Including the 3-D effect, each letter was made without filters. We would spend many nights and countless weekends working on these albums. We had teams of people pathing (cutting out) parts and making sketches for our clients. We would do what ever it took to get all the parts the client wanted, if we had to scan them or specifically shoot photos..we would, nothing was left, half baked.
It was insane, just about as insane as the covers!
I also find it funny when people comment on how terrible the covers were, yet these are the same covers that helped the largest hip-hop artists make Billions! (not millions) And are now featured in museums and galleries. The same covers that set a time period in musical history.
So we were doing something right!
Anyway, great post! I love the opinions! keep em' coming!

morbid said...

The SEnior art directors have started AKA Studios. www.akastudios.com you should ask them the real deal.

Anonymous said...

I love the covers from both old and new Pen & Pixel!

SB said...

Pen and Pixel seems to have many loyal fans. Some fans love it and some hate it, but still the same effect, they paid money for the music that was wrapped (no pun intended) in our artwork! We set a style that no one has been able to truly mimic, and only those that worked there know what it took to pull off some of these covers. There are still two of the senior designers working on outstanding concepts and top quality work in the Houston area. One Art Director is in LA.
Smartface Media recently hired the founder and Creative Director of Pen and Pixel Graphics to head up their creative management division. So, there are sources out there to get CD Cover work done in the style of old school Pen and Pixel by the real artists themseleves.
Smartface Media just closed a deal with Disney Publishing on a new blinged-out book cover for Leveraged Sell-out.
For more info contact smartfacemedia.com

Anonymous said...

FUCK SHAWN and smartface hired a 2 face fucking ass hole

Anonymous said...

It seems like this blog is becoming contaminated with some folks that are a little out of their element. Not only do they use profanity (sign of a poor up bringing) but also lack any real knowledge. Recently on another blog, an anonymous blogger (coward) took the blog to a new level of low by writing a stream of lies about Pen and Pixel and it's founder. I contacted the suspect company AKA. Studios (ex-Pen and Pixel Art directors) to question them (the blogger directed traffic to them) but they denied it and reassured me it was some ‘kid’ that had very intimate knowledge of Pen and Pixel history, confidential inner workings info and even financial information that was private. Amazing! So blogers and Pen and Pixel fans we have a disgruntled fan that won't show his identity and has become just another wannabe hater. Too Bad! I hope that this person is able to get over the injustice of all the bad that has happened to him or her and wake up to the fact the Hip hop would never be the same without Pen and Pixel Covers. I think is more about the Art than it is about the company and the people that worked there.

DocZeus said...

Come on, folks. Let's leave the personal beef at home and not use my blog as a platform to air out professional grievances.

Anonymous said...

Yo, man wass up with the hostility towards the Mr. Pixels? He da man that set this shit up and took it to the nex level. Got to give props where they do! I memeber back in tha day, Penn and Pixels was tha shit, they was rock stars in grafix.
Big Props Mr. Pixel

Hugo the Dude said...

haha..

i think that's tre-8 at the end of the video, talking about shooting people with his ak.. his a rather good artist actually

he looks kinda alike right
http://www.worldwideconnected.com/pics/tre8.jpg

Anonymous said...

I am actually a very big fan of pen and pixel's artwork, even to this day I look @ some of the old no limit covers and still see elements I never saw b4. Some of my faves are both the mac albums, fiend, one n every family (the cellphone said cellular one n the source ads but was covered up on the cover), black menace- drama time (the dead cop on the inside is the same cop on the prime suspects cover that's pointin em out n the lineup), moB Dick (had him n the purple for the que dog frat), ghetto d, (who was the dopefiend that was originally on the ads? I hurd he was a rapper from h town), kand and able 7 sins (that concept is perfect... brother killin each other over tha booty! Lol smh), prime suspects, the down south hustlers 2 cover (had the same image of p, as the last don cover), I'm bout it (dam why didn't the movie have thos 2 broads n it?), damn I could keep goin, and also that bg chopper city cover was classic, rainnin chopper bullets from the sky.

Or does any1 remember that movie and cd by big ballers?
I remember orderin an info packet from em in 98 and seein them prices and being like damn, I gotta be rich 2 buy one lol.

But I would like 2 get an originall p&P cover for my new album, if shaun is readin this u can contact me via email @ uptownwatta@gmail.com

Or check myspace.com/micwatta

Frustrated by Death said...

I was there at Pen and Pixel in the early years. You have to realize that the bulk of the artwork that gets the recognition was done from 1994-2000. So think about the limitations of photoshop, mac OS, memory, disk space etc. Just to get an idea, check out the Photoshop History page to see what the limitations of Photoshop were http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe_Photoshop_release_history.

Photoshop was just getting layers and mulitple undo around 95-96. Max RAM in a machine was 128 meg if you could afford it. The files that were being produced had to be output to poster size at the printers, so the files were huge in comparison. Layers had to be flattened as you worked and you couldn't go back unless you saved a backup on disk.

Add to that the fact that the clients were in most cases artist off the street that had never entered into a complex business relationship that required multiple meetings and decisions about not only the artwork but CD production and distribution, t-shirts, posters, photo shoots, etc. and you have to be amazed at what Pen and Pixel accomplished on a daily basis.

Most of the artist would come in the door and point to a poster and say 'I want something like that'. So you had this self perpetuating ideal that emerged. The junior artist at PPG would do the low budget covers and the more expensive full custom work would be done by Sean.

Most of the elements in the composites were shot at Pen and Pixel and then layered into photoshop. Some shots came from stock photos but I remember one court room scene that required quite a few different shots of extras, the artists, props and the courtroom itself. This type of thing happened on a weekly basis. Sean would sketch out comps and discuss with the artist and then do the photo shoot and composite the final image. Then others would do type setting and all the detail work to get it into Quark Express layouts and then to the printer. All of this had to be done with a profit left over or at least enough to pay the bills - and no one left out of the credits on the liner notes or the artist would show up at the office with a gun. PPG did this consistently for years and there was a steady stream of business and clients that kept coming back for more.

I think some of the bedroom photoshoppers out there with a little too much time on their hands and some fancy new plugin's and big fat hard disks and gazigahertz multi-core processors may think that they could do a better job or that the PPG artwork is 'cheesy'. Given the constraints of technology and clientele at the time, I think few companies or individuals would have the stomach for doing more than one of these projects.

Sean had an amazing sense of humor and was constantly cracking everyone up with his stream of consciousness humor while still getting massive amounts of work done.

When I watch the youtube video with LOUIS THEROUX at Pen and Pixel I just laughed my ass off. Sean either was in on the gig and was playing the straight man, or he didn't know who Louis was and he just new the camera was rolling and he had a paying customer so he bit his tongue. I think if Louis had paid for the full custom package and changed his stage name to T-Row and got a gold tooth he might have some royalty checks in the mail.

Carrie said...

This is great info to know.

Anonymous said...

Pen & Pixel changed hip hop and the way the it is packaged. they shouldn't have to answer to anyone. those were some of the most complex and innovative covers ever. it took me an entire year to figure out how to do those blinged out titles in photoshop (that's not just a simple built-in filter). Those guys made album covers worth looking at more than once. Thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

There are many people out there that guess at how many special effects were used in creating a cover by Pen and Pixel. Only a few that have really studied the covers realize and that there were no filters involved, which means time consuming work to make these covers stand out...in fact if you get a chance to get up close to one of the posters...look very closely at all the details...quite astonishing really!

Anonymous said...

ON THE EIGHTBALL/MJG COVER, IF YOU NOTICE THE CAR IS REALLY TWO DIFFERENT CARS- BENZ BACK, LEXUS FRONT...

Anonymous said...

The Eight ball and MJG cover with convertible Lexus SC400, was one of the first customcovers done by the newly formed Pen and Pixel Graphics. Tony Draper commissioned cover. We shot a single photo of Eight ball and MJG in a red mustang convertible, then scanned (desktop) a brochure from a Lexus dealership into the computer. A Standard SC400 hard top. We shot a cityscape of downtown Houston and a separate road shot. In Photoshop we cut the top off the Lexus, spun the wheels added the back ground and inserted Eight ball and MJG, then added a few more special effects to brighten up the cover and we were done, that is the real story of the cover! The cover took 4 days to complete, the computers were slow and Photoshop had no layers to work with...if you made a mistake or the computer crashed your were screwed!
SB

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Jelger said...

HAha thanks for this story...couldn't stop laughing :D

Anonymous said...

tha new pen and pixel have sick work that old shit was just plain stupid

rippa

Anonymous said...

Let’s see the new Pen and Pixel (which is not Pen and Pixel at all)
is better than the old Pen and Pixel...really! How many Platinum Albums and major artists does the “New” Pen and Pixel represent? How many Gold albums have they won? How many Press releases have been published in major magazines around the word? How many awards have they won? How many times have the “Boys” at the “New Pen and Pixel” been featured on TV? How many new pieces of Pen and Pixel artwork are in museums around the country? Just asking! Maybe you need to get you fact straight before writing next time...do a little research with this thing called “Google”! Might be a bright idea next time!

Anonymous said...

Ya ain't gotta be on Tv foo ta make betta swag than some cheezy ass old bullshit check yo self fo talkin shit n fuck google fuck yo plat records real talk this bout swag

Anonymous said...

Wow, someone is not living in this world, maybe a little too much evil weed. But I'm loving the colorful use of the English language. good job working with the all the keys on the keyboard, must be hard to do with your limited mental capacity.
Wake up an get a life. The Old School Pen and Pixel Rocked it man!
Period!

Anonymous said...

Tha past is tha past, tha shit is dead.

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Anonymous said...

The car in the "Comin Out Hard" cover is a Lexus Sports Coupe. The car in the Eightball "Lost" cover is a Chevy Impala SS, not a Cavalier. Appearently you are not a car afficionato.

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Fuck what anyone says. These covers are so bad they're good. I love them and was (and still am) of the old 90s southern rap. They brought the party back to rap after Biggie and Pac died.

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Anonymous said...

Pen&Pixel ain't even done the Lil Flip The Leprechaun cover, it's blackat Productions! Maybe you should run something on them too, and as far as I know, I rather buy 1000 P&P draped CD's than some NYC'/eastcoast releases

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The same thing that happened to you in the 90's happened to me in the early 00's but it was with Heavy Metal, not rap.

Geron said...

thats so cool the ACTUAL Shawn Brauch commented on this post!! sweet!! but yea man i mean these things are classic yo!! i mean think about it. it reminds me of Andy Warhol works they were pop art YET using a new medium photoshop, and it was kind of anti pop art because most of the covers were by obscure rappers. it shows such an honest light on the mindsets of the south and southern rappers back in the 90s. i mean it was a very unique time. we got zero publicity or respect yet we stayed at it and put so many different ideas into all our music and our covers with the help of PPG!!! for example, ive never heard of Lil' Sin before today. but that cover is unique. frustrated by death, is so telling because back in the 90s death drugs and what they can do to a mans psyche here in the south was so rampid. so sone other covers and titles were weird. but like the cover shows, he felt like he may just be forced to die at any second. no other covers EVER IN MUSIC were as good or as meaningful to me. and im glad to see all of PPG is still doing well on their own. hey shawn, maybe you can do one or two more old school covers!!! if i ever become a great rapper like Andre 3000 or nas i want u to do my covers!! forget these new soft covers i want the hood intellectual ISH!!!

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com123 said...

Oh man, this is great. I remember Spin doing an article on Pen & Pixel back in the mid to late nineties, part of it involved cover mock-ups for artists like Nine Inch Nails and Tori Amos. I've been looking for that picture of Trent Reznor sitting on a throne, a castle silhouetted by lightning holding a jewelled chalice (if memory serves) ever since.
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