A screenshot from Drake’s Instagram. The rapper tagged artist Damien Hirst in a photo of his new album cover. (via @champagnepapi)
In an Instagram post announcing the drop date for his new album, “Certified Lover Boy,” Drake also unveiled the accompanying cover art designed by none other than British artist Damien Hirst. Featuring a grid of 12 multiracial “Pregnant Women” emojis wearing different colored tops, the design’s meaning is open-ended: perhaps the rapper wants to imply that this is baby-making music, or maybe he is confessing to having fathered a dozen children, one Twitter user hypothesized. Others have more intricate interpretations: “Drake is dropping Certified Lover Boy, an album about love (baby making) 9 months after the expected release date, (9 months is a full term pregnancy), on LABOR day weekend,” speculated one Twitter user.
Shortly after, the official account @drakerelated shared a photo of a physical canvas of the cover, adding that it was “1 of 2” and hinting at a potential second cover option.
Unsurprisingly, the cover has elicited a variety of responses, ranging from tame descriptors like “corny” and “lazy” to “an abomination,” and has even inspired some spoofs: rapper Lil Nas X posted a version of the album art featuring pregnant man emojis and announced the release date of his own forthcoming album. Others are disturbed by the possibility that Hirst — who is among the world’s richest artists — may have received payment in exchange for the “commission.”
Right up there with Kaws and Koons on the list of artists who are comically easy to hate, Hirst is best known for displaying a shark preserved in formaldehyde and for his admittedly more palatable Spot Paintings, monochromatic canvases covered in rows of spots painted in complimentary colors. Drake’s cover art appears to echo these dappled compositions while also nodding to sculptures of pregnant women the artist has made over the years.
While saying next to nothing about Drake’s music or his long-anticipated album, the artwork(?) is a deludedly self-referential tribute to Hirst’s career.
As Hirst once cryptically said, “I’ve always had a phenomenal love of color … I mean, I just move color around on its own. So that’s where the Spot paintings came from — to create that structure to do those colors, and do nothing.”
Well, Damien, mission accomplished.