Urban Legends, the urban catalog platform of Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), and Marvel Comics are collaborating to bring together the mighty, epic worlds of comics and hip-hop with an ongoing exclusive album series that will feature variant covers for select collector’s editions of some of the record label’s most legendary hip-hop releases.
The first releases in this joint series, out 7th December, are Iron Man standing behind cracked glass for 50 Cent‘s incendiary 2003 debut, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’; the Punisher replicating LL Cool J‘s famous stance on the cover of his 1990 album Mama Said Knock You Out; and Iron Man duelling Maestro, mirroring the cover of GZA‘s second studio album, Liquid Swords.
Marvel Comics originally debuted these album art-inspired images as comic book variants for many of their top comic titles in 2015, reinterpreted by a number of fan-favourite comic book artists. The variant comic book cover series will be combined with UMe’s vast catalogue, which includes the most revered and influential albums in hip-hop history.
“Marvel comics have always occupied a special place in the hearts of hip-hop fans, ” says Bruce Resnikoff, President/CEO, UMe, “both media continue to serve as source of expression, escapism and inspiration for generations of super fans around the world.”
“There is an undeniable heroism that consistently runs through the veins of both art forms,” added Andre Torres, Vice-President, Urban Catalog and Head of Urban Legends, “and I’m excited to help weave these iconic narratives together in a way that celebrates their art and introduces new fans to their genius.”
“Marvel’s hip-hop variant covers celebrated the music industry in a whole new way,” notes Daniel Fink, Executive Director, Business Development at Marvel, “combining the creativity of original album art and the Marvel Universe to create one-of-a-kind pieces of art. We’re excited to collaborate with UMe to bring these variants back for fans of these iconic albums.”
Each album release will boast a pair of collectible options, the first one being a double colour vinyl Variant Cover Collector’s Edition that replaces the album’s original image with Marvel’s variant hip-hop cover art.
Second, a Deluxe Variant Cover Collector’s Edition will sport the featured album itself housed in a gatefold LP with the variant cover printed directly on the front. The deluxe collector’s edition will include double colour vinyl, along with a copy of the limited-edition corresponding Marvel comic book that ties in with the artwork.
The deluxe version will also include a 3D lenticular print of Marvel’s variant cover artwork. Each initial Collector’s Edition will be capped at 3,000 units.
UMe plans to release hip-hop variant albums each quarter, distributing them to traditional record stores and retail channels, as well as directly to consumers. The initial limited-edition runs will be capped at 5,000 units each.
Released in 2003 by Shady/Aftermath/Interscope, 50 Cent’s debut, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, was the year’s bestselling album worldwide. It stormed to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with more than 872,000 copies sold during its first week of release.
Featuring the acclaimed No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 singles “In da Club” and “21 Questions,” and the Top 5 “P.I.M.P.,” the album is six-times platinum-certified by the RIAA.
The exclusive hip-hop variant cover inspired by this album was originally drawn and coloured by Brian Stelfreeze for Invincible Iron Man #1 in 2015.
LL Cool J’s fourth studio album, Mama Said Knock You Out, drew praise from critics worldwide, lauding the album’s hard-hitting, soulful jams.
Released in 1990 by Def Jam, the multi-platinum album’s chart-topping and GRAMMY-winning title track is an iconic hip-hop staple.
The exclusive hip-hop variant cover inspired by this album was originally drawn and coloured by Tim Bradstreet for Punisher #1 in 2016.
The platinum-certified album is critically acclaimed, recognised as one of the best hip-hop albums of all time and as a particularly strong solo release by a member of the Wu-Tang Clan.
The exclusive hip-hop variant cover inspired by this album was originally drawn by Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz and coloured by Chris Sotomayor for Contest of Champions #1 in 2015.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.