If you’ve stepped foot outside in New York City this summer, chances are your field of vision has been bombarded by promotion for the “Drake vs. Lil Wayne “August 19th show at Forest Hills Stadium. While both artists get along famously, rap fans have contested who of the two is better for a number of years now, and the playful “VS” in the title of the show adds a further element of rivalry to the debate. The sheer amount of street team work, parodying the logo for fighting video game Street Fighter IV, shouldn’t be that surprising as Wayne and Drake have been two of the genre’s most visually obsessed artists. From Wayne’s head-to-toe tattoos to Drake’s masterful on-camera performances (seriously, try watching one of his videos on mute), the two know you’re looking at them and are maximizing those minutes. It just so happens the only aspect of the Wayne/Drake comparisons that hasn’t been evaluated seems to be a visual topic: their album and mixtape cover arts. We’ve selected five of their covers from different point in their career to determine who had the better visuals?
Hot Boyz Get It How U Live!! vs. Drake Comeback Season
While Drake had one mixtape prior to Comeback Season, his 2007 cover here has become the iconic image of the first incarnation of Drake. Seemingly the halfway point between “Jimmy from Degrassi” and the Drake we know today, the senior picture-looking shot stands in big contrast to the earliest Lil Wayne cover photo a decade prior. One of the few rappers to make his recorded debut while his age was still in single digits, Wayne’s always Lil even when he truly was little, such as the 15-year-old Pen-N-Pixelated Wayne we see here.
Lil Wayne Tha Block Iz Hot vs. Drake So Far Gone
Again, our examples here are from a decade apart when Wayne and Drake were given a significant platform for their first major solo releases. While Drake’s So Far Gone mixtape has an eye-catching artistic slant, nothing beats the sheer late-90s rap cover absurd spectacle of Wayne’s Tha Block Iz Hot. One look and we’re taken right back to rows-upon-rows of them on new release Tuesday at Sam Goody.
Lil Wayne 500 Degreez vs. Drake Thank Me Later
2002 was a tumultuous time for Cash Money records as, after fellow Hot Boyz Juvenile and BG’s less-than-amicable split from the label, Wayne was expected to carry the torch and become their flagship artist. The title/cover for 500 Degreez, a nod of an upgrade to the label’s previous biggest success in Juvenile’s 400 Degreez, was meant to insinuate the imprint was only getting hotter. Drake was under comparable pressure with the release of his major label debut Thank Me Later. While the cover continued the tradition of the red, black and white color scheme of his previous releases, it just barely edges out 500 Degreez’s cover, which looks more-so like someone trying to make a Wayne cover than an actual Wayne cover.
Lil Wayne Tha Carter vs. Drake Take Care
While they’ve always had their rabid core fanbases, critical acclaim suddenly hit Wayne and Drake on the albums that marked a new chapter in their respective careers, Tha Carter and Take Care. While both have always been very talented MCs who’ve made some great songs, a lot of misguided critics and listeners chalk up these two albums as the point where they “matured” or something. This might have to do with the stark visual contrast compared to the rest of their catalogs. While Wayne’s Tha Carter gets props for its comparable minimalism within the Cash Money catalog, Drake’s moping mug might be the best part about Take Care.
Lil Wayne Tha Carter V vs. Drake Nothing Was The Same
Finally, their most recent releases show Wayne and Drake at a moment of commercial success and critical acclaim to the point where they can pretty much do whatever they want. Drake’s painted profile with a blue sky behind him made for a much brighter image than his previous output, and the album’s full art reflected a similar chance to his music as well. While it remains our favorite of Drake’s cover arts, we have to give the edge to Wayne for Tha Carter V’s shot of Wayne and his mother in front of a blurred red light backdrop. It’s a polarizing cover, but Wayne keeping the tradition of Tha Carter’s child images (originating with Tha Carter 3 as a nod to rap masterpieces such as Nas’ Illmatic and B.I.G.’s Ready to Die, both of which featured babies on the cover) and giving props to him Mom looks like nothing we’ve seen on store shelves in a long time.