Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3 is officially the number 1 album in the country and it's the rapper's 11th number 1 album, which cements his legacy as arguably one of the best Hip-Hop artists of all time. The artwork for The Blueprint 3 came as a surprise to a number of his fans and critics alike, partially because of the abstract art that was used for the cover. His past albums, as shown via: a commercial with Rhapsody, all feature an image of Jay-Z, this was the first album that did not. Photographer Dan Tobin Smith worked with Jay-Z on the cover and explains the process behind the cover in his interview with It's Nice That. via: Nah Right
"Greg Burke, the creative director on the project at Atlantic records had seen the Letter "E' I had shot with the set designer Nicola Yeoman and I guess he had it in the back of his mind when he was thinking of ideas for Jay Z's new artwork for Blueprint 3. I think Greg and Jay Z had lots of ideas about what the album meant and it seemed to be about taking it back to the source, in terms of the music itself and then subsequently the artwork. For the album and the idea was it was very much about the music and all the things that make music. The 3 is represented by 3 bars which is of course the old way of writing "3' so that seemed to work really nicely with the idea behind the album and the set design that evolved. We all liked the idea that the installation was almost machine like, like all these things were interlinked. That's why everything is packed and jumbled together. Like it had kind of grown out of this corner.
I think it was a brave approach for Jay Z as all his previous albums have had him on them. I love still life, and the way I shoot is quite old school. It took 3 days to shoot, was all shot on 10 —8 inch film, so the quality in the whites is fantastic, so much subtle tone. We worked long and hard on the colour work on the post and even in a single page mag advert I can see that effort. You could blow the image up to the size of a building and it would still hold up. It seems the album is about that old school crafted production so its nice that that same method went into the shoot."