How did this project come about?
At the time, I recently purchased the Marvin Gaye record What’s Going On. I would look at the album artwork and say to myself, it would be cool if my son recreated the album cover. I then looked through my extensive jazz CD collection and at other album covers my sons could recreate. I am a divorced father, I see my boys at least 6 days a week, but they do not stay with me. So this was a fun thing we could do while they were with me. I created the Tumblr site only to share the pictures with my parents and family who live on the West coast (I live on the East coast).
What is the process of creating each piece like?
I have a pretty large collection of blue note jazz albums and other hip hop albums. I’ve always admired the work of Reid Miles in the designs of the classic Blue Note album covers. I just went through my collection and chose records that looked like my sons could recreate. Of the ones I chose, I asked my sons if they liked it or not and who wanted to pose for which album. In the albums with 3 people, I had to join them. I think those are a better way to make a ‘family portrait’ instead of the usual matching shirts in front of a country house scene (No artistic value in that!)
This project has also spawned an album where you and your sons write and sing music. Tell us a little about that.
I play piano as a hobby. I mainly play jazz and classical music. On my bandcamp website, I have posted all the music I have done. When my sons are over, they like to dabble on my keyboard. Usually, Taj is the one doing the most playing. He will improvise, and I will start to hear a cool melody that he plays. I take that melody, add drums and other embellishments, and turn it into a song. The Beats by Q and Trey album was all music that was inspired by them, played by them, and named by them.
Do you three have a favorite from the series so far? Which was the most fun to do? Which was the hardest?
My favorite with all three of us is the Black Moon cover. Taj’s favorite is the E-40 cover. Amar’s favorite is the Nas cover. My favorite with the both of them on the cover is a tie between the Outkast or the Gang Starr cover. My favorite of Taj is the Roy Ayers or Bud Powell cover. My favorite of Amar’s is the Horace Silver or Bob Dylan.
The most fun was doing the Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders cover. I just told them to make funny faces. I have even more pics of them that I didn’t use for that cover. The hardest to do was the Roy Ayers cover. The layering, ghosting, fading, and positioning was so tedious. When out of place, it just looks bad, once I got it I knew it, about 3 hours after I started. The easiest was the Bill Cosby cover.
Any future plans for this project down the line?
As the school year ends for my boys, they will have more time to add to the Tumblr project. They always ask me “When can we take more pictures daddy?” That is when I know it will be time to add another set of albums. I made a coffee table book out of the pictures and gave them to my family and friends to have. I need to make another one since we’ve added more album covers to the project.
Lance Underwood is an Optometrist who lives in Delaware with his two sons, Taj and Amar. You can see more album covers on their Tumblr site QT Albums.