Shortly before the first release, Before the Verdict (Madlib Medicine Show No. 1), Egon made the decision for Madlib Invazion to produce vinyl for select titles in the series. A small number of records were pressed for Before the Verdict, but the album covers made for CD could not be recreated quickly enough for the release. The solution was creating new designs that could be silk-screened directly onto blank sleeves in different arrangements, creating one-of-a-kind art sleeves.
Medicine Show art director Jeff Jank worked artist Gustavo Eandi to create pieces to be printed on the covers. Mobile silk-screening crew Hit+Run handled the printing. The pieces for Medicine Show #1 were created live at a record release party.
Similar one-of-a-kind covers were created for Beat Konducta in Africa (MMS #3), History of the Loopdigga (MMS #5), High Jazz (MMS #7), Nittyville (MMS #9), Low Budget High-Fi Music (MMS #11), and Filthy Ass Remixes (MMS #12-13), with artwork by Jeff Jank, Gustavo Eandi, and Benjamin Marra, and printing by Hit+Run.
The interview below is copied from Pitchfork.com's Take Cover: Madlib Medicine Show, published 1/26/2011. Ryan Dombal interviewed Medicine Show art director Jeff Jank.
Madlib's current Medicine Show monthly series of releases isn't only one of the most ambitious musical projects in recent memory-it's one of the most impressive album art endeavors, too. Each of the planned 12 records features its own CD cover and booklet, and half of them are also given their own limited-edition vinyl pressings with unique, one-of-a-kind art. The man coordinating all these visuals is Stones Throw art director Jeff Jank, who's been responsible for more than half of the indie hip-hop label's covers over the years.
The vinyl pressing of the 11th installment of the series, Low Budget High Fi Music, features something extra special: the silk-screeners that make the LP covers, Hit+Run, added some Hennessy to the paint. We chatted with Jank about the Medicine Show art, his favorite Stones Throw cover, and rabbits having sex in the woods:
Pitchfork: How did the whole Medicine Show series get started?
Jeff Jank: Madlib has wanted to release an album a month for a long time and we're small enough to experiment with something like that. The series is actually on his own label, Madlib Invazion... It alternates between his own original albums and these mixtape albums, and we press the original ones on vinyl every other month. For the LPs, we usually get a bunch of different images and the silk-screen company Hit+Run makes different designs out of them, so each one basically has one-of-a-kind artwork. We actually destroy the screens when we're done so that we're not tempted to redo more down the line. It reminds me of the small presses and in-house printing that Sun Ra's Saturn Records did.
Pitchfork: The artwork for the CDs and their corresponding vinyl are usually related, right?
JJ: Yeah. For instance, the cover of the Low Budget High Fi Music CD has this porcupine with a hair pick and some blinged-out brass knuckles, so we came up with this whole idea that these forest animals are playing beats for the vinyl sleeves. And then Brandy with Hit+Run asked, "Why don't we just pour Hennessy in all the paint and then blow smoke into it?" It worked.
Pitchfork: Did you run into any issues with the consistency of the Hennessy paint?
JJ: A couple of them got a little runny but it didn't damage anything. Technically, they're also infused with smoke but that's mostly just the guys blowing smoke onto it every once in a while, almost for good luck.
Pitchfork: How much back and forth do you have with Madlib about the covers?
JJ: Very little, which has been the case for the entire 10 years that I've worked with him. He turns in his stuff and doesn't really explain what's going on in the music or if there's a theme with the album. I have to figure it out. Since this series is going so fast, I've been doing most of the covers and just showing him when they're done. And he's like, "cool."