When Drake graciously blessed the world with another new album (Certified Lover Boy), I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to check it out. One of the first things I noticed before listening to it was the album cover (designed by British artist Damien Hirst), which features 12 pregnant woman emojis with different skin tones. When I saw it, I thought, “Hm, that’s different and kind of cool. Definitely seems like something Drake would do.” But when I read different online comments, articles, and thoughts on the album artwork, I could see that some people weren’t feeling it.
Many seemed to think it was odd, disrespectful, and one of the worst things they’d ever seen. I believe it stirred some controversy because it was different. I’m not entirely sure why some people didn’t like it, but my guess is that maybe some felt that it was unnecessary, perhaps others felt that putting pregnant women emojis on the cover of a rap album mocked pregnant women. It’s possible that it could have been triggering for women who have had a hard time conceiving or can’t conceive at all, or that such a display has no business being on the cover of a rap album or any album for that matter. Who knows?
But as I continued listening to the album (which is super dope) and reading through different opinions on the album’s cover art, all I could think was, “Actually, this is nice.” As a woman, I was excited to see the diverse display of pregnant women emojis. I wasn’t offended, weirded out, or triggered. In fact, I was intrigued. Because I believe the approach to the design was brilliant and an opportunity to celebrate the representation of women of different races preparing to give birth to new life. It’s a realistic reflection of how the world looks today. And how often do we see pregnant women displayed this way in the world of rap music?
Though the cover art is different, its concept is unique. It’s a celebration of life and the women who give life. And can we also acknowledge that a male rapper took the time to put women on display like this? It’s masterful and a nice relief from some of the stereotypical and misogynistic ways different rappers choose to display women in their work. And though some people may not like it or understand it, it’s still cool. It’s even inspired some funny memes. So, clearly it’s had an impact.
What was interesting to me was seeing how quickly so much negative commentary took off about the design. Why is it that anytime someone does something positive and out of the box that so many people attack it and then years, possibly decades later, deem what’s described as “odd” and “offensive” iconic? Think about it. There are a lot of people who may not like this album cover art today but don’t yet know that this same cover will hold a special place in the culture much later. Pregnant women all over the world will see themselves on the cover of a rap album. Their future children will see this. And the children who come after them. Future generations will be inspired by this art, and it may provoke others to think about creative ways to continue celebrating diverse groups of women from all different backgrounds.
Attacking or criticizing art that you just “don’t get” or think is weird is a foolish act. Why not be more open-minded? It’s sometimes said that art is subjective, so the viewers of it have the choice to interpret it as they’d like. All I’m insisting is that if you don’t like this album cover, try giving it another chance. You may be surprised by the impact of taking another look.