Interview: Back to The Drawing Board with Legendary Artist and Designer Cey Adams (via @complex_art)

If you don’t know what the last 25 years of a great record label look like, then rap is just not for you. Over two decades of photos, album artwork, and stories behind every record released under the Def Jam Recordings label became a coffee table book for Rizzoli, designed by its former creative director, Cey Adams. His native New Yorker’s perspective, living just a few doors down from the late, great Notorious B.I.G. on St. James Pl. in Brooklyn, and being a graffiti writer (with a hand style you would give your left arm for)—these are the credentials of someone whose doorstep was hip-hop.

Adams founded The Drawing Board design studio while at Def Jam with his partner Steve Carr. Together their creative team was a factory of artwork and logos for the label’s marquis talent: LL Cool J, Redman, DMX, and the list goes on. With ‘90s rap etching its place in music history, and with every year getting arguably better than the next, credit has been owed to visionaries like Cey Adams. Bad Boy Records and artists like the Beastie Boys also turned to Adams and his friends for work, which he discusses when he names his Top 10 Album Covers From the ‘90s. Some of his extended stories about Redman’s video game character and working with Diddy from the salad days of Uptown Records were so damn good that we’re giving you the extended interview. Respect the architect.

Words by: @iamdjtreats

Beastie Bak - Beastie Boys exhibition tour

“Beastie Bak” exhibition tour of photos commemorating the Beastie Boys by Sunny Bak, and graffiti style graphics of Cey Adams.

Sunny Bak who beautifully captured those moments of the Beasties on the licensed to Ill tour and the inside cover photo for the album of the same name wants to share her rare and unpublished photos on an exhibition tour!

Please share on all your social media platforms, tell your friends, and donate! minimum bid is $1


ICYMI: @Complex_Art’s 5-part feature series asked legendary designers asked about their favorite rap album covers from the ‘90s.

Brent Rollins’ 10 Favorite Rap Album Covers of the '90’s

Bill McMullen’s 10 Favorite Rap Album Covers of the ’90s

Kenny Gravillis’ 10 Favorite Rap Album Covers of the ’90s

Cey Adams’ 10 Favorite Rap Album Covers of the ’90s 

Greg Burke’s 10 Favorite Rap Album Covers of the ’90s

Words by: @iamdjtreats

MoMA goes Old-School with Cey Adams

The MoMA is paying homage to the first generation of artists that started it all in the Hip Hop game. One of the influential Creative Directors of that era is a man named Cey Adams who will be at the gallery May 5th to sign posters along with Riot Girrrl icon, Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill. 

In 1984, Cey, a young artist and graffiti writer at the time, got hired to work at a record label named Def Jam Records. It was a time of paradigm shifts for the baby genre with legends being born every day – Beastie Boys, Biggie Smalls, Run DMC, 3rd Bass, Public Enemy, etc.

Keep reading

Run-D.M.C.: Run-D.M.C.

Artist: Run-D.M.C.

Album: Run-D.M.C

Label: Def Jam

Cover Art/Photography: Cey Adams/Talib Haqq

Producers: Russell Simmons, Larry Smith

Release Date: March 27, 1984

Today marks the 30-year anniversary of the release of Run-D.M.C.’s debut album. This date, March 27th, is crucial for so many reasons. Before the duo from Hollis, Queens came along, hip-hop was sunny, laid-back, easygoing. It didn’t authentically document the culture it was supposed to represent.

That all changed when Run-D.M.C. was unleashed to the world. The songs were gritty, the beats were bare, and the lyrics were menacing. It turned the hip-hop world on its head and has been sampled, since, by the likes of Nas, Jay-Z, The Beastie Boys, De La Soul, and Public Enemy.

Keep reading


Very happy to announce that Kathleen Hanna and Adrock will be supporting a very worthy cause tonight!

Kathleen Hannas post please read the heartbreaking article she links to

Making a single one of her mural-sized drawings takes months. There’s the physical pain and cramped hands and RSI, the sore shoulders and repeated marks on paper, hatches and scratches of ballpoint pen and No. 2 pencil. And, she’s often left feeling like she’s reduced to that hand and the pain. This is where phrases like “body of work” and “life’s work” come to mind, and the words are metaphoric, yes, but “body” and “life” seem key here…..“We think of galleries as family because in the art world we all take everything really personally, but comparing the galleries in the business context, makes you notice that, unlike other stores, they can’t just restock their shelves. What is gone is lost permanently, and in many cases represents a piece of human labor and thought that will not ever be replaced.”

Not Enough by Jennifer Kabat

Papermag did a short piece

Complex Magazine

NY magazine

As you can see Kathleen Hanna is listed as one of the artists along with others you might have heard of: Cey Adams and Sunny Bak and some guy named Adam Horovitz….


PT. 1 “Rapping With the Rickster,” Nov. 1990, with Ricky Powell, Cey Adams, Ione Skye, and Adam.

Bless Ricky Powell, but he can be a bit much, at least then. ;) Good thing he, Cey and Adam are all childhood friends or else they could be highly irritated wih his antics.

Love how Ad-Rock brushes the hair out of Ione’s face…

NPR | Def Jam In Pictures and Words: An Interactive

Def Jam Recordings was instrumental in putting hip-hop on the map, paving the way for the music and the culture to permeate society and alter the landscape of popular culture. The just-published Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label is heavy with photos, album covers and designs that capture the brash attitude of the company. Click on an image below to hear Bill Adler, the author of the book (and longtime publicist for Def Jam), and Cey Adams, who ran design for the company for many years, tell stories about some of Def Jam’s most striking visuals. [NPR]


Cey Adams and Bill McMullen (Billions McMillions) share some great Beastie Boys stories. It’s long, but stick it out. It’s worth watching. RIP Yauch.

from deadendust