In the age of iTunes, pilfering mp3s from blogs, and Serato doing away with LPs and 12-inches as staples, most people have no use for expending the additional bandwidth to download a .pdf or .jpg cover art file. However, there was a time when the cover art was an integral part of the album package. Whether we're talking about Biggie biting Nas' Illmatic cover, the Beastie Boys' plane smashed into the side of a cliff, the fantabulous Darlene on the front AND backside of Power (Ice-T is such a pimp), ODB’s welfare card, or the playfully suggestive Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde coaster, the cover art used to matter. And what real HipHop head hasn't tried to identify all the faces on the cover of Midnight Marauders album?

Well, the image of a scowling Ice Cube, dressed in black, hand over heart, standing in a morgue over the flag-draped corpse of Uncle Sam, complete with toe tag, gives listeners all the evidence they'll need to decipher what their ears are in-store for.

Does the murky, semi-desaturated image represent the death of the American Dream? Ice Cube’s intention to spark a violent Black revolution that takes no prisoners? The ultimate revenge fantasy?

Whatever your interpretation, it's clear this album won't feature any club bangers, dance songs, or the typically mandatory radio-friendly fare intended to ensure top chart position and big first-week sales. The cover sets the perfect tone for the bleak, angry, aggressive, raw, grimy, rage-filled 20-track opus about to be experienced.