Words by Nick Slay

Most of us dream of getting to the big leagues. For many of the black actors, musicians, and artists involved in Marvel’s Black Panther, this dream has come true.

For artist Nikolas Draper-Ivey, he was happy creating his own spin on the popular Black Panther mythos featuring some of the big names in the film, Chadwick Boseman and Michael B Jordan. He did a little work for Disney, but he had no idea that doing some pen work for the mouse would lead him to the project of his dreams working on something that means so much for the culture. For Draper-Ivey as a black man, the opportunity to play a small part designing the cover art for the highly anticipated soundtrack release featuring Kendrick Lamar was everything.

“Honestly, this entire experience was quite humbling. I didn’t even know I was going to get this opportunity in the first place. Interscope got my information from Disney, and I was little shocked because  I’m mostly known for doing illustration and sequential art (comics) and I’ve done a few pieces that have gone viral in the past, but never would I have the conceit to even think I could a part of something on this scale,” exclaimed Draper-Ivey.

When TDE first spoke with Draper-Ivey about concepts for the cover, they didn’t even tell him of K Dot’s appearance on the project. However after a couple of concept designs, the iconic panther claw chain that drapes Black Panther’s cowl became the main inspiration for the influential soon to be hit album. Now seen as panther claws over a black background, many have reposted the cover to the point it has gone viral. The young artist even got the shout out of a lifetime when Jordan posted one his sketches to his Instagram page.

“Black Panther is an important film for a lot of people and Kendrick Lamar is one of the most respected and influential artists working in music today. That’s undeniable. So naturally, to be approached for something like this was intimidating.In the end, I’m grateful to be able to contribute to something like this and I’m happy to see the cover is being well received,” said Draper-Ivey