10 Nude Album Covers
We’ve all heard the old saying that sex sells, and nothing is more sexual than nudity. (Well, other than actual sex.) From a topless singer crossing her arms to hide her lady lumps to strategically placed props covering a rapper’s nether regions, hip-hop and R&B albums have showcased tons of skin in the past few decades. And while nudity can be presented in a tasteful way, these images still spark controversy. Prince and Kanye West are just some of the artists who have tested boundaries and fans’ tolerance. There’s plenty more artists whose naked forms on album covers have either impressed the masses or caused critics to stress. Check out 10 Nude Album Covers.
Considering he was part of the 2 Live Crew and the rap group’s track record with creating sexually explicit music, it’s not too surprising to see Luke‘s cover choice for ‘In the Nude.’ Following his sophomore album, ‘I Got S— On My Mind,’ which features two women caught in the shower, this one shows him in the middle of a group bathing session. While everyone’s privates are hidden as much as possible, the blatant nudity on the cover of this 1993 album gets more negative feedback than praise. Music Radar ranks it as one of music’s worst album covers ever. As Luke’s first independent release since severing ties with Atlantic Records, the project did fare well on the charts and landed in the top 10 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album chart. The rapper continued to add scantily-clad women on the cover of his other albums (sans 1996’s ‘Uncle Luke’) but nothing beats this image.
Since she first came on the scene as a teen, we’ve seen Rihanna evolve and mature from an innocent island gal to a provocative trendsetting superstar. As her music and lyrics have changed, so has how she presents herself to the world. For the cover of her most recent album, 2012’s ‘Unapologetic,’ she takes all liberties with the title’s meaning and poses completely topless. Though her body is covered in handwritten words, there’s clearly a sexual freedom she exudes on the cover, which made it on VH1’s ’30 Hottest Nude Album Covers’ last year. Designed by creative agency Hugo and Marie, this image focuses on the singer’s body — something we’ve seen on most of her LP covers — and draws attention to the tattoo under her breasts. By the stone-faced glare she’s giving the camera, Rihanna’s not one to mess with — even if she’s topless.
Lil’ Kim is raunchy. If you’re a fan of the Queen Bee, this is nothing new. She’s been quite the sexpot since the ’90s, delivering X-rated lyrics and showing more skin than not on her album covers. From the moment we saw her solo debut LP, ‘Hard Core,’ in 1996, we knew that Kim wasn’t afraid to show off her sensual side. However, her sophomore effort, ‘The Notorious K.I.M.,’ in 2000, put a visual to her already raw, uncensored lyrics. With nothing but diamonds and a pair of low-rise jeans on, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-bred MC is in command. An ode to Biggie, the album features Puff Daddy, Sisqo, Mary J. Blige and her hip-hop family, Junior M.A.F.I.A. The album topped the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200. While tracks like ‘How Many Licks?’ have since become Lil’ Kim classics, the album cover is one that’s imprinted in our memories forever, which gives it a spot on our list of 10 Nude Album Covers.
Prince has always been successful in not only putting out good music you can groove to but also releasing it in the most ridiculous ways. And the release of ‘Lovesexy’ is no different. The artist was originally set to debut ‘The Black Album’ — with an all-black cover — but opted to cancel that project altogether in 1987 and replaced it with ‘Lovesexy.’ While he’s no stranger to showing skin as he did with his 1979 self-titled album and 1980’s ‘Dirty Mind,’ this 1989 release takes the win. We not only see the Purple One in an artsy pose atop flowers (purple and white), he’s also completely in the buff. Considering the lack of clothing on the cover, many retailers refused to sell the album unless it was wrapped in black to cover up the nudity. The album did very well on the charts despite the censorship. ‘Lovesexy’ reached the No. 11 spot on the Billboard 200 chart and peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard R&B Albums chart in 1988.
If there’s anyone on this list who always does things his own way, it’s Kanye West. And he went the extra mile with the release of his 2010 album, ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.’ The rapper enlisted the help of artist George Condo to create the artwork for the album cover. The image depicts a maniacal-looking Kanye being straddled by a nude woman with wings known as the Phoenix. (Remember, this is art!) Of course, the explicit nature of the image was banned from retailers in the U.S., pushing Kanye to tweet all about. While fans thought the Twitter diatribe was just another one of his rants, it was all part of his big plan. He wanted album art that was so graphic that it’d be banned, and he got it. While the MC was in it for the shock value, he did want to the album to sell well, which prompted the creation of four more album covers, making a series that fans can collect. The backlash he received for the LP’s cover didn’t prevent Ye from hiring the artist for another project. He surprised his lady, Kim Kardashian, with a $30,000 Hermes purse customized by Codon.
Big Daddy Kane
Big Daddy Kane is one of the most influential MCs from the ’80s and ’90s and during that time, he was known for showcasing beautiful women on his album covers. However, it seems that he decided to join in the strip-down when he was photographed topless for his 1990 album, ‘Taste of Chocolate,’ right along with a woman baring her nude physique. The cover, while pleasing to male rap fans due to the lady’s naked body, was seemingly directed toward his female audience — just look at Kane’s provocative glare. After this LP’s release, Kane covered up for his next album, reverting back to the darker imagery common on rap albums. But he seemed to want to showcase his cozy side with 1990’s ‘Daddy’s Home,’ which depicts the rapper in a revealing bathrobe.
While we don’t see as much skin as the other album covers on this list, Janet Jackson‘s 1993 album, ‘janet.,’ is one of the most legendary album covers for its nudity. The original image depicts the songstress completely topless wearing a pair of unbuttoned low-rise jeans. The hands of her then-husband René Elizondo, Jr., covered her breasts. Rolling Stone ran the complete image of the cover for a feature they did on the singer in 1993, in which she openly spoke about her sexuality. “…Sex has been an important part of me for several years. But it just hasn’t blossomed publicly until now. I’ve had to go through some changes and shed some old attitudes before feeling completely comfortable with my body. Listening to my new record, people intuitively understand the change in me,” she told Rolling Stone. Although the music on this album might not have been as innovative as 1989’s ‘Rhythm Nation 1814′ and 1986’s ‘Control,’ the simple yet provocative artwork will stand out as one of the most iconic album covers of all-time and earns its well-deserved place on our list of 10 Nude Album Covers.
If you quickly browse through Too $hort‘s catalog, you’ll notice that many of the album covers are tame in comparison to other rappers’ effort. However, in 1995, the Oakland-based rapper released ‘Cocktails,’ which depicts Short as this omnipresent being looking over a sea of martini glasses. The surprise comes in the glass, in which a woman sits wearing nothing more than heels, a g-string and a snake around her waist. But that’s not all. There’s two other au naturel women playing around with snakes on the cover. Three is the magic number after all. ‘Cocktails’ did pretty well on the charts and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
These days, Ice-T is known more for his role as Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola on ‘Law & Order: SVU’ than his skills on the mic. But harkening back to his hip-hop heyday, he reminded everyone of his ‘Gangsta Rap’ abilities when he released his first studio effort in seven years in 2006. While the music itself received mediocre reviews, it was the album art that caught everyone’s attention and really just made everyone feel like Peeping Toms. The image shows Ice-T lying in bed with his wife, Coco, both of whom are completely naked and asleep. And to make things a bit more steamy, Coco’s leg is draped over her man’s goods, thus exposing her butt crack. Unsurprisingly, stores were more than hesitant to carry the album.
Mac Miller is a fan of the naked form. On the cover of his 2012 mixtape, ‘Macadelic,’ the rapper featured a collage of naked female figures sketched like a puzzle. So it’s not too surprising that there would be more nudity on his sophomore studio LP, ‘Watching Movies With the Sound Off.’ This time, the Pittsburgh native was the one with his clothes off. Mac decided to shed his clothes for dinner, with the table positioned in just the right spot. While some people wouldn’t necessarily want to look at his bare body or the warning sticker over his man bits, the composition in itself is like a work of art, right? “I’ve been chilling on the real description because it’s funny that everyone tries to figure it out,” he told Clash about the meaning of the cover. “There’s the idea that an apple is good for you; I went through this period in life where all I ate was apples, but there’s also some Adam and Eve s—.” As they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away — even if you decide to eat it in the buff.