As Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch The Throne makes its official debut on iTunes this week, Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci premieres the complete album artwork, inside and out, that will accompany the album's worldwide physical release later this month.
Tisci created the cover for West and Jay-Z's first collaborative outing, "H.A.M," in 2010. With that success behind him, he eagerly agreed to design and direct the artwork for the subsequent Watch The Throne project.
"I am honored to have been asked to be part of this incredible music moment with such amazing artists," Tisci says in a statement. "I am impressed by the amount of respect they have for music and art. We share the same way of working: like a family."
Deeming the large-scale rap collaboration as "one of the biggest joint efforts in music history," a representative for the house of Givenchy provided further insight into the process that went into Tisci's imagining and creation of the product. Bold colors and angular lines were incorporated symbolically to convey the "masculinity of two of the most iconic rap figures of our time."
Tisci's instantly recognizable motifs - geometrical prints, surreal religious iconography - factor into Watch The Throne's heavily gilded, highly symmetrical compositional schemata, adding a heightened sense of majesterial ritualism to the design experience.
Major tropes also include animal faces and "American obsessions," powerful signposts that link the album artwork to Tisci's design principles, which often explore various textures of cultural identity.
Givenchy's rep notes that the "cover seems to be embroidered, while the inside artwork looks painted and printed," a duality that heavily references Tisci's Couture-directed decorative principles, as spectators of his dramatic runway presentations will recognize.
• Kanye West and Jay-Z's 'Watch the Throne': A Track-by-Track Breakdown
• Jay-Z and Kanye West Avoid 'Watch the Throne' Leak
• Video: Jay-Z and Kanye West Perform "H.A.M." Live in Austin
• Jay-Z's Rocawear to 'Partner' with Pharrell's Billionaire Boys Club