With every mixtape since 2011’s “I Came From Nothing,” and every full-length album since 2019’s “So Much Fun,” improvisational rapper-singer Young Thug has kept an eye toward the aesthetically high-minded. The album cover for “Punk,” released on Oct. 15 and featuring artwork inspired by Mexican-born surrealist painter Octavio Ocampo’s 1987-1989 work, “Forever Always,” is the latest example of the influential talent’s emphasis on visuals.
Ocampo is renowned for a metamorphic painting technique where one image, or dreamy visual concept, transforms into an image of similar shape or look, but representing another concept entirely. Born to a family of designers, and focused solely on painting since the mid 1970s, Ocampo uses the tenets of Surrealist masters such as Salvador Dali — in their fantastic looks at the subconscious — while often juxtaposing incongruous elements or subjects. Like Mexican Surrealist Frida Kahlo, Ocampo maintains a personal narrative in his work while also dedicating canvas space to the traditions of his homeland and Mexican ethnic totems.
Ocampo’s optical illusory “Forever Always” highlights two aged facial profiles of a man and a woman staring into each other’s eyes with two traditional Mexican characters in repose and a golden goblet (or holy chalice) between them. Young Thug has filled his “Punk” cover’s own ‘metamorphosis’ with two self-referential profiles of his own face, pink dreads framing both visages, with young Black artists playing instruments and gambling with dice.
The “Punk” album art work was directed by Garfield Larmond (@whoisGLP) and Estefano Arellano (@its_fano) and was executed by Japanese artist K2 (@smilecomplexx) and Lil X (@prescribedbydoc), according to YSL PR.
The cover of Thug’s previous album is also a sight to behold. According to Genius, the “So Much Fun” cover uses nearly “1,000 layers and exactly 802 hand-placed copies of thug (consisting of about 20 different pictures of him taken on an iPhone)” to form the rapper’s face.
The first notice that Thug’s “Punk” album art tipped its hat to painter Ocampo’s “Forever Always” came in October 14’s XXL’s online new release list for the week. And for all of his innovation, Young Thug isn’t the first contemporary musical artist to use Ocampo’s art work as inspiration or as an album cover. Cher’s 1989 album “Heart of Stone,” released on the Geffen label, uses a commissioned original Ocampo featuring the female singer lost inside of the artist’s skull in profile amidst a dark background.