Jay Z album art

Often times art is produced but never used or seen. This is one of those unfortunate cases…

I was asked by the guys at Island Def Jam Records to art what would have been one of my bigger gigs to date. Jay Z picked my art over two other big time artists to tackle the illustrations for what was going to be his greatest hits album. The title of it was to be EVOLUTION and was to encompass images of him from his current success all the way back to his early roots. The album art was going to be a four-gatefold piece collaging together various portraits and locations of where he grew up and so on. It was a big project but I was up for it even though my day job sucks 11 hours out of my day I was focused on putting some good pieces out and FAST. I did a large body of work and it was shown to Jay Z as a work in progress and he loved it. Everything was going great… or so I thought. Long story short the project got shelved due to legal complications among the record company and the use of the music. Sadly, my role on the project was also haulted along with some of the great pieces produced. Here, for the first time, is some of that work I did…


15 Responses to “Jay Z album art”

  1. hey n8, my name is adahn stewart. ive been a very huge fan of yours for a while now and have been amazed and inspired by your work. i visit your blog everyday hoping to see new work, and everytime new posts are put up im never dissapointed. but these images are absolutely on a new level. they are truly amazing. just from these your art has far surpassed anything i couldve imagined. these are truly some of the greatest pieces of work ive ever seen. thank you for sharing

  2. Wow Nate, these have a totally different tone than I’m used to seeing from you… very cool!

  3. Hi n8, really really impressive b&w work! A wonderful inspiration for all of us, doing ink and b&w work. I especially like the point of view you used for your work, remembers me to some b&w photography work I prefer.
    Sad to see that all of us handle such jobs, where you put in a lot of work, time and love …. only to see it die before it will be published.
    All the best for you!

  4. Hi Nate. I love your stuff but after checking out a couple of the drawings that mocked Jesus ,I was motivated to write and send this article I found. If any of this prompts you to write me I’d love to have some sort of discourse. At any rate, your stuff is still amazing. -Brent
    Creation: The universe, far from being a howling wasteland indifferent to our existence, appears to be finely tuned through its estimated 13.7 billion years of existence to support life on this planet. Tinker with any one of scores of fundamental physical laws or the initial conditions of the universe—such as gravity or the cosmological constant—and we would not be here. As physicist Paul Davies has admitted, “I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact.”

    Beauty: Beethoven’s Ninth, a snowflake, the sweet smell of a baby who has been sleeping, and a sunset beyond the dunes of Lake Michigan all point to a magnificent and loving Creator. And isn’t it interesting that we have the capacity—unlike mere animals—to gape in awe, to be brought to tears, before them? Truly did David say, “What is man, that you are mindful of him?”

    New Testament reliability: Compared with the handful of existing copies of seminal ancient works such as Homer’s Iliad, the New Testament’s provenance is far better attested. There are thousands of NT manuscripts in existence, some made within mere decades of the events they report. Scholar F. F. Bruce said, “The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar.”

    Scripture: Unlike other religious texts, the Bible gives us the good, the bad, and the ugly of its heroes: Abraham, Jacob, David, and Peter among them. Further, Scripture’s message rings true. It has been said that human depravity is the only religious doctrine empirically verified on a daily basis. And the Bible’s gracious solution to our predicament, Christ’s atoning death on the Cross, uniquely emphasizes what God has done, not what we must do, for our rescue.

    Jesus: Christ’s life and teachings are unparalleled in world history, as any Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim—or atheist—worth his salt will admit. Napoleon reportedly said, “I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and whatever other religions the distance of infinity.”

    The trilemma: C.S. Lewis, commenting on Christ’s claim to divinity, said: “You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

    Resurrection: After the crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty. His formerly despondent disciples then turned the Roman world upside down with the message that Christ had conquered death. And they were willing to die for it. The best explanation, according to N. T. Wright and other scholars, is that Christ rose from the dead.

    • Hello,

      In response to the comment by Brent Muir. I dont think it was N8’s intention to “mock” Jesus. He is an artist and draws his own interpetitions into his work anyway he feels at any given time. This is what makes N8 special as an artist. What you feel from a particular piece of art is not up for debate or clarification by him “the artist”, he doesn’t feel the need to write a thesis on every piece he does so that you the “viewer” can get the meaning behind the art and consequently not be offended by the content. I really think “religous nut jobs” like you just need to shut the fuck up and let people be. If N8 wants to draw a dead fucking Jesus then who the hell are you to try to “convert” him in his own blog. Just had to get that off my chest. I am a big fan of N8 and I am an artist myself and I hate when someone takes a forum and uses it to push a message that has nothing to do with this blog.

      Fuck off,

    • Mr. Jesus Christ Says:


      Jesus here. Just wanted to comment on your reply to Nate.

      I’m not sure where I got such a reputation as being a total pansy ass that can’t handle anyone poking fun at me, but man, it’s tiring. I mean, if I’m so fucking powerful, why do you think that I’m going to fall apart because someone does a funny drawing of me? Give me a little credit. Do you realize what I’ve been through? I’ve actually been crucified, for one thing. Crucified! That shit hurt.

      Nate even gave “Jesus Chimp” awesome abs. I wish my abs were that nice. I guess I should stop hanging around prostitutes and turning water into wine and get off my fat ass and go for a walk. Don’t get me wrong…..there’s nothing wrong with prostitutes (am I right?! ha ha!), but you know what I mean.

      Seriously, bro, you need to lighten up. And stop yapping so much about the Bible and quoting other people and start to think for yourself a little more. My Dad gave you brains for a reason, dude. He’s also got kind of a god complex and wants everyone to kiss his ass, but I won’t go there.

      Well, I’m off to play some hacky sack…..

      Peace out!

      • brent muir Says:

        Wow! There’s a lot of anger in the air. My comments were for Nate and I’m glad he was actually cool enough to have a conversation with me. We didn’t agree on much but at least it was left on good terms.
        Bye the way, I do actually think for myself but I also acknowledge that there are people who’ve devoted their lives to researching various topics and they have insightful things to say.
        Lighten up fellas. It’s not the end of the world yet.

    • Mr. Jesus Christ Says:



      It’s Jesus again. I’m not angry, dude. Not sure either how my post came off as really grim and why you’re telling me to “lighten up.” I quit wearing eyeliner and dyeing my hair black a long time ago. I dINt eVEn tiPe LIke tHhis!!!!1111 (like a lot of my followers do, unfortunately).

      You’re being incredibly presumptuous (three-point word there….they don’t call me awesome for nothing) in (1) sanctimoniously preaching in a stranger’s art-related blog about religion, (2) assuming that Nate’s intent was to “mock” me, (3) schooling Nate on why he’s “wrong” to “mock” me in front of his readers, (4) stating the comments were for Nate only when you could have emailed him privately, rather than using his blog as a soapbox, and (5) not even commenting on the Jay-Z related art, which was the actual topic at hand. If Jay-Z finds this out, it might make him take his sunglasses off and then you’ll know it’s on.

      Anyway, all of that takes balls. And then you wonder why you’re catching heat for it? You should prepare yourself for various reactions if you plan to do that sort of thing in the future. Not everyone appreciates it, bro.

      Well, I’m going to go read the new Birkenstock’s catalog…..

      Peace out!

      • Mr. Jesus Christ Says:

        Huh. My comment appeared below Brent’s comment after all…. I didn’t even need to scream in upcaps in that last comment that I typed. Jesus fuckin’ christ, this blog is confusing to ol’ Jesus here.

        (I can use my name in vain since it’s my name, by the way.)

      • I’m big enough to admit mistakes. I probably should have contacted Nate privately. Looking back I could’ve handled that better.
        I think “mock” is a fine term to use in this case. As a Christian any use of Jesus image or name in a demeaning way is mockery to me and I’m not surprised at all by the reaction I got. People get touchy when God is mentioned.
        It was not my intention to lecture Nate. I don’t really think any of the stuff I posted was all that critical of Nate but I’m sorry it came off that way.I did want to get his thought process behind the designs . As for my posting, I apologize to Nate for using his blog to throw all that out there. However you were under no obligation to read it but I’m glad you did. If you knew me you’d know I don’t go around “preaching” to people and I don’t even own a soap box. I do have some bottles of soap but standing on them is not wise.
        Anyway, No hard feelings. Take care.-Brent

  5. […] Nate Van Dyke illustrated the Jay Z Evolution Greatest Hits album with images depicting the various stages of the New York rapper’s career. Nate Van Dyke was successfully commissioned by Def Jam, after being in competition with other illustrators, and says he invested as much as eleven hours into each detailed sketch. Sadly, at the very last minute, the project had to come to a halt due to legal complications but we decided it’d be a shame to let this art go to waste. […]

  6. […] “……I was asked by the guys at Island Def Jam Records to art what would have been one of my bigger gigs to date. Jay Z picked my art over two other big time artists to tackle the illustrations for what was going to be his greatest hits album…..” Check out the rest here at N8 site. […]

  7. Im amazed that you were able to resist the urge to do a Jay x Chimp collabo style, given his resemblance to a chimp ( and a camel, for that matter).

    I feel your disappointment though, ive had a job here and there that woulda been huge for me, but ended up falling through for various reasons. These days when im excited about certain jobs, i rarely tell anyone until its all done. I dont want to “jinx” myself, if you know what i mean.

    Regardless, these pieces are solid work (the 2nd and 3rd down being my favorites). Keep it up my man.

  8. how much do you want for the rockafella sign picture?

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