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 on 7 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 dueling 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-favorite comic book artists. Now Marvel’s highly successful variant comic book cover series will be combined with UMe’s vast catalog that includes the most revered and influential albums in hip-hop history.
In making this announcement, Bruce Resnikoff, President/CEO, UMe, said, “Marvel comics have always occupied a special place in the hearts of hip-hop fans – both media continue to serve as source of expression, escapism and inspiration for generations of super fans around the world.”
Andre Torres, Vice-President, Urban Catalog and Head of Urban Legends, adds: “There is an undeniable heroism that consistently runs through the veins of both art forms 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.”
Daniel Fink, Executive Director, Business Development at Marvel, said, “Marvel’s hip-hop variant covers celebrated the music industry in a whole new way, 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 color 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 color 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.
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 colored 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 colored by Tim Bradstreet for Punisher #1 in 2016.
Released in 1995 by Geffen, GZA’s second solo studio album, Liquid Swords, peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The platinum-certified album is critically acclaimed, recognized 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 colored by Chris Sotomayor for Contest of Champions #1 in 2015.
Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, Mama Said Knock You Out and Liquid Swords are out on 7 December and can be bought here.