ICE CUBE: Death Certificate Rear Artwork

Click here to zoom in on Lattisaw Tape's scan of the "Death Certificate" LP.

On a recent payday vinyl excursion, I had the good fortune of acquiring one of my all-time favorite albums, "Death Certificate," for less than $10. I've always considered this to be Ice Cube's magnum opus, despite stiff competition from arguably more "impactful" chapters of his rich discography. It's an edgy, unapologetic brew of everything I love about rap music. Revisiting Cube's effortless narratives, scathing battle raps, freaky tales, black militancy, deadpan humor and convincing death threats makes me want to retroactively slap myself for ever trying to sell Killer Mike as a refurbished O'Shea.

It kind of goes without saying that purchasing physically formatted music enhances the overall listening experience, from superior sound quality to informative liner credits. But what really struck me about this piece is the secondary artwork, which I assume was also packaged with the original cassette pressings back in 1991. For some reason, I never really took notice to Mario Castellanos' brilliant flipside photography. It encapsulates the thin line between reckless survival and disciplined survival Cube straddled on the record therein, much more effectively than Uncle Sam's autopsy featured on the front cover.

In addition to executing a masterful feat of symbolism, Castellanos slyly incorporated a "Where's Waldo" of product placement without cluttering his vision. Examine close enough and you'll find plugs for an extended Lench Mob roster, NOI ideology, the Street Knowledge imprint, St. Ides malt liquor and Cube's mission statement distinguishing the life and death halves of the album. It's not quite as powerful as the "Kill At Will" artwork, but very few covers are.


  1. What scanner did you use to capture the artwork?

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