Es un enlace robado a The Fader, pero es una entrada que de verdad merece la pena:

"Through 1997 and ’98, Beats By the Pound had a monopoly on No Limit production. The arrangement suited P, who liked to keep things tightly controlled and cost effective (as the name implies, BBTP dealt in volume more than painstaking precision). Plus, requiring everyone on the label to use the in-house crew created a unified sound across all No Limit releases that fit with P’s vision for the company –an army of foot soldiers, all equal and equally undistinguished, with only one general leading at the front.

At its peak, No Limit churned out nearly one release per month. The albums were quickly assembled, garishly designed, filled with and endless stream of gangsta clichés and marginal rap talent –including guest appearances by other No Limit artists –and overflowed with twenty or more tracks crammed onto each CD. To maximize income, CD booklets featured No Limit advertisements for merchandise and 900-number phone lines. And despite the questionable quality of many No Limit releases, they sold remarkably well –even those by lesser-known acts –with virtually no national promotion or radio play.

P was, above all, a master of ghetto marketing, and his work at crafting a look and sound for No Limit –one that made clear the product was designed with the ‘hood in mind –paid off beyond belief. An intensely loyal core of black and Southern fans gave No Limit credibility to attract outsiders in search of the “real thing”. Album covers played a big part in conveying this sense of authenticity. Like the music, they appeared technically unsophisticated, with Photoshop collages (no expensive photo shoots) and busy designs that reveled in ghetto fabulousness. For just one example, see Young Bleed’s 1998 debut, My Balls and My Word. It’s a minor release that retreads the most tired of Southern gangsta clichés, but the gold-framed cover art is an eye-catcher: Bleed, guarded by tigers, prepares to ascend a golden stairway to a mansion in the clouds, while three doves soar off into beams of sunlight above. What does it mean? Who knows, but the dingy fatalism it conveys speaks volumes.

The visual aesthetic was unique to Southern hip-hop, the work of Houston-based designers Pen & Pixel Graphics. Aaron and Shawn Brauch, brothers who’d been involved in the early stages of Rap-A-Lot Records, started the firm. Though the company’s earliest album designs involved Houston-based artists –including Eightball & MJG’s 1993 debut, Comin’ Out Hard –Pen & Pixel’s Southern hip-hop style became associated with the flood of No Limit releases.

P’s greatest stroke of marketing brilliance was his less-is-more approach. Where the typical business equation holds that investing more in a product leads to a better product, No Limit found that cheaper worked better. Much of the label’s authenticity derived from the impression that its releases were raw, even amateurish. Just as blues fans might perceive an old black street musician in tattered clothes as somehow more authentic than the same guy, tuxedo-clad in an expensive nightclub, No Limit fans valued the lack of production values.

To further the blues analogy, No Limit’s image fit with people’s notions of the South as low-rent and unsophisticated. But unlike blues iconography, No Limit never connoted poor. The label’s shoestring approach had more to do with the hustler’s mentality: maximizing profits while minimizing work. And with No Limit’s look and sound so effectively advertising its ‘hood credentials, the actual quality of the artists was secondary to the label’s success".
Roni Sarig “Third Coast” (Pags. 86-87)

Si quieren cosas más sofisticadas pueden ver este recopilatorio de programas (en papel) para los partidos de fútbol de la liga inglesa que recopiló Bob Stanley, o leer esta entrevista del que fuera diseñador de las portadas de Penguin Books, o si son muy fetichistas mirando las fotos de este blog dedicado al diseño de portadas de discos y su arte interior mientas se imaginan llevando las deportivas diseñadas por Zaha Hadid.

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