Standing For Everything: 10 Great Rap Logos

03.18.11 7 years ago 30 Comments

There aren’t too many things that are more forceful than saying something without actual speaking on it. Symbols have come to make up a great portion of our unwritten language, culturally and universally. In fiction, a silhouetted bat in the night’s sky tips criminals that their reign may be cut short at the hands of The Dark Knight while a golden arch in the close proximity tells your stomach that its hunger could soon cease to exist in real-time.
Hip-Hop has come to identify with various figurines, motifs and artwork to help propel the legacy over the years and some have gone on to be just as legendary as the music themselves. While there has been a lot of “good” ones to transcend the airwaves (see: Kanye’s bear or Outkast’s winged “O”), this scribe is reserved for the ones that have achieved greatness.

10. Lench Mob
If you think the No Limit Tank was intimidating, observe its clear-cut inspiration. If you “rolled” with the Lench Mob during their heyday of the early 90s, your journey would have included refusing to have dinner with the head of state, pulling stick-ups on fast food patrons at the drive-thru window or just been downright militant. Likening himself to a disorderly riot was exactly what Ice Cube’s music did in terms of shock value at the time, so it was only proper that his crew’s design did the same.

9. Duck Down Records
Barely removed from celebrating 15 years of independence, the tenure of Dru Ha and Buckshot’s storied imprint still speaks for itself to this day, without a ridiculous amount of glitz and gloss to shroud their product. From humble beginnings of critical acclaim with the Boot Camp Clik and all its surrounding extremities, the raw and purist ambiance still remains a leading benchmark to this day, most recently, conceiving a couple of 2010’s best albums.

8. Tommy Boy Records
What’s black and white and fresh all over? How about the emblem to one of Hip-Hop’s oldest and renown companies in Tommy Boy, founded by Tom Silverman in 1981. Brandishing notable and respectable acts like De La Soul (3 Feet High & Rising, De La Soul Is Dead), Prince Paul (A Prince Among Theives), Stetasonic (In Full Gear), and Capone-N-Noreaga (The War Report), their iconic status is forever cemented, even with rampant accounts of being plagued by Industry Rule #4080.

7. Death Row
There was a time in Hip-Hop where glorifying violence and one’s prison record was the measuring stick in an artist’s street credibility. Sitting at the helm of the movement was Suge Knight and his talented, but troubled roster of West Coast gangsta advocates. Anyone sitting in San Quentin will tell you there’s nothing cool about the electric chair, but it didn’t stop Simon & Co. from selling millions of records amidst controversy, mainly Snoop Doggy Dogg’s murder trial that resulted in a not guilty verdict.

6. Everything A Tribe Called Quest
To become one of the greatest groups of all-time, you have to exhibit a sense of unity and cohesiveness within the group, working as a unit to create incredible product. With their first four albums, ATCQ made a definitive statement with their choice of artwork—a homogeneous mix of Afrocentrism, pride and kinship—that went on to go hand-in-hand with such classics like “Electric Relaxation” and “Bonita Applebum.”

5. Bad Boy Records
Before any every label hopeful aligned their product with a pseudo-menacing yet accessible moniker, there was Puff Daddy & The Family, thriving in and out of the studio, and gaining healthy revenue streams as a result. As a disciple of the entertainment world before he rose to prominence (most recently, topping Forbes’ wealthiest Hip-Hop artist list), Sean Combs took the marketing genius of a massive corporate model and applied it to his growing business. It doesn’t get much badder than that.

4. Public Enemy
Public Enemy’s logo didn’t make them a target, their music was successful in that. As authors of inflammatory topics such as racism, civil rights and crooked politics, the powers that be were steadily trying to shut them down at all costs. How did Chuck D., Flava Flav and The Bomb Sqaud react? They embraced it by directing the scope on themselves, daring the advocates to shoot. You can’t buy that type of publicity. It was their destiny.

3. Rocawear
In 1996, Kareem “Biggs” Burke, Damon “Dame” Dash, and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter went on to start a record label by the name of Roc-A-Fella Records that went on to help makeshift the standard for music moguls in the chronicles of rap lure. After a lucrative six-year run of platinum albums, the Roc boys took their influential brand to the clothing market where they nearly quadrupled their success. The line that saw everything from belts, hats and denim stitched up with their trademarked “RW” still continues to be frontrunner in the urban fashion world, even with the label being a defunct entity.

2. Eminem
There’s a level of unprecedented power and notoriety when a singular letter of the alphabet can speak for an entire discography with just a mere flash of its appearance. Marshall Mathers is Hip-Hop’s chief vowel, flipped backwards to echo the zany and complex layers that has been the selling point in his music for beyond a decade. A crowded venue, dim lighting and that signature character is all that is needed to give a goosebumps-inducing, anticipated feeling.
Its lone impact for the culture is trumped only by…

1. Wu-Tang Clan
…the mighty Wu-Tang Clan “W”.
As an all-encompassing figurehead that covers the wide lens of subordinates, affiliates and various partnerships, the mere association of the Killer Bee stamp was enough to pique the level of interest in a project, no matter how bad or obscure it turned out to be. Put the “double ve” on a flyer and watch the crowd come out in droves, regardless if the top members are attending or not. This kind of illustrious branding doesn’t happen over night. After years of classic albums and pop culture indentations, the collective from Staten Island have the most recognizable symbol as witnessed from numerous albums, tattoos and fan-made art.
Wu-Tang is for the children. Wu-Tang is forever.

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