Takashi Murakami and Kanye West
Takashi Murakami and Kanye West

Ten Years Ago Takashi Murakami Shot Kanye West’s Dropout Bear Into Space

September 11 is a really big day in hip hop history. Not only is today the sixteen-year anniversary of Jay-Z’s classic The Blueprint it’s the ten-year anniversary of Kanye West’s game-changing album Graduation. And one of the ways Yeezy’s third studio album altered the landscape of hip hop was by ushering in a new awareness of visual arts. A big part of that was the album’s cutting-edge cover design created by the renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

In a recent interview with Complex, Murakami described how their collab came about. It seems that Mr. West was interested in viewing the artist’s big-breasted sculpture Hiropon up close and personal. The piece,  a life-sized rendering of an anime character with gigantic lactating breasts whose milk stream forms a jump rope, sold for $427,500 at Christie’s auction house in May 2002. Erotic body fluids appear to be something of a theme with Murakami. His anime-inspired sculpture My Lonesome Cowboy depicts a masturbating boy whose jizz forms a lasso. (That one sold for $15.2 million at Sotheby’s.)

“He want to see my big-breast sculpture,” Murakami recalls in the video interview, adding that Kanye’s assistant gave him only one day notice. “I want to say no, and I also never know who is Kanye West.” For some reason he agreed to the meeting anyway and Yeezy showed up with his late mother to see the big-boobed artwork. He took tons of photos before leaving. Three months later Murakami heard from West’s assistant again, speaking of a possible collab.

“He created 70 percent of the design,” Murakami says of the album cover, which shows Kanye’s famous Dropout Bear being blasted off into Universe-City with his mortar board cap flying away. “That is our making process.” The cover’s vivid colors and manga-influenced graphics set a new standard for

The cover’s vivid colors and manga-influenced graphics set a new standard for visual artist in hip hop.

“Kanye West is the greatest artist because he is exactly a psycho and he can make a big hit. And mostly everybody’s surprised that he changed the rule in the sneaker industry. You can’t just do that. That’s why we can say he’s a genius creator.” It’s worth noting that the Graduation cover found its way onto a very rare adidas x Yeezy design.

Asked whether he would work with West again, the artist replied unequivocally: yes. Indeed, last month Hypebeast reported that Kanye and Kid Cudi paid a visit to Murakami’s Tokyo studio in July, so anything is possible.

Appropriately enough “The Octopus Eats its own Leg,” a retrospective of Murakami’s work is now on view at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art until September 24. Catch it while you can!

Related Posts


Kanye and Tyga Admire Usher’s Chain on New Song “Feel Me”


Graffiti Artist Lush Trolls the Fuck Out of Taylor Swift


Kanye West’s 40 Most “Kanye” Quotes on His 40th Birthday

In Concert
In Concert

Check Out Kanye West Floating Over MSG On the Saint Pablo Tour


Report: Kanye Was Off His Meds


Latest News


Pete Rock Drops the Hammer in Instagram Response to Waka Flocka

“I just think y'all can't do what we did”
lavar ball donald trump Sports

LaVar Ball Doesn’t Have a ‘Thank You’ for Trump: “Who?”

LiAngelo took the high road; BBB’s fearless leader isn’t

Meek Mill Has Been Released from Solitary Confinement

A small but important victory
Teslas Music Video

PREMIERE: Tesla’s Ghost “Zero Hour” Video

It's a mob meeting
Gilles Hey, You're Cool

Hey, You’re Cool! Gilles

Get familiar with the Atlanta-bred lawyer/rapper: "People think it's a gimmick"
kanye west News

Kanye West is Producing Albums For Every G.O.O.D. Music Artist

Yeezy Season has returned
mike sits on his rooftop in the god's with me music video Music Video

A Higher Power Watches Over MIKE in New “God’s With Me” Video

Church in these streets
body-cameras News

Study: Police Body Cameras Have Problems, But Are Still Necessary

Some things never change
chance the rapper dwayne wade News

Chance the Rapper and Dwayne Wade Are Co-Producing a Film on Chicago Basketball

And you say Chi City!
Evidence Music Video

Evidence and Jason Goldwatch Show You Their Los Angeles in “Jim Dean” Video

"Walkin' in the rain off the Jim Beam / Dreams broken on the boulevard, Jim Dean"

Read This in Auto-Tune: T-Pain’s New Album, ‘Oblivion,’ is Here

Still snappin'
seven1 Music

PREMIERE: SeVen1 ‘Sinners Remorse’ EP

"These shorties is f*cked up / They kill but can't hustle"
moneybagg yo youngboy never broke again Music

Youngboy NBA and Moneybagg Yo Team for Conceptual ‘Fed Baby’s’ Album

Against the law
Willie Music Video

PREMIERE: Willie The Kid x V Don “Blue Notes” Video

"The love kept me afloat, the hate kept me on my toes"
plane News

Pilots Have a New Hobby — Drawing Dicks in the Sky

Excuse me as I f*ck the sky
CoteKid Reviews

Check Out SpaceJam Bo’s Exciting New Mixtape ‘Cote Kid’

Montgomery's finest