Professor Stephany Spaulding
19 February 2013
Finding Meaning Behind the Paper Trail
By merely glancing at T.I.’s Paper Trail album cover, one may just see a portrait of the rapper and find themselves completely blind of the cultural ideologies and messages being conveyed through the art. Upon taking a first look of the album, the collage of papers depicting the artist seems simplistic, but in reality, a deeper look at the art reveals the portrayal of cultural ideologies, the impact of society on hip hop artists, and defiant identities. All of these themes presented on the album cover have an equal influence on the artist’s appeal to his audience and the representation of his identity on a larger scale.
Ian Wright, the illustrator of the album cover, combined scrap paper and money in the collage to create the image of T.I. Depicting the rapper in this way actualizes a relationship with the title of the album, Paper Trail. By creating a collaged likeness of the rapper, Wright was able to literally define the meaning of title of the album with scrap paper. This image of various artistic elements making up the portrait metaphorically illustrates the idea that T.I. is influenced by many different aspects in the world. If the image of T.I. was merely a straightforward picture taken of him, the audience would not get the full effect of his influences coming from many different places to make up who he truly is.
One aspect of who he truly is follows traits of a hustler. The use of money along with paper scraps to make up this collage shows the importance of money in his life and in the hip hop culture. As a self-proclaimed hustler, T.I. draws upon this cultural ideology of the importance of money through his album art. The idea of being a hustler has become increasingly more popular in the lives of Black males. This importance partially stems from the way that mass media teaches young Black males that money is everything and the way...