Just before 2017 came to a close, rappers Travis Scott and Quavo released “Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho,” a joint album that jumped to the top of the Billboard charts. On the cover, the two musicians appear much like the illustrations in Hunter S. Thompson’s famed Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The two rappers, in their mid-twenties, had in fact been drawn by none other than 81-year old artist Ralph Steadman, who inked the two as he had ‘Raoul Duke’ so many years ago.
“I had to familiarize myself with this whole new world of rap,” Ralph Steadman told MTV in an interview. “Though I had never heard of them I did not consider that important, it was for me unknown territory, and I went along with it out of curiosity as much as anything.”
Steadman said that Quavo and Travis Scott’s people reached out to him in November, interested in having their portraits done for “Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho.” Steadman has illustrated many projects in his career including album covers for The Who and Frank Zappa; editions of “Alice in Wonderland;” and iconic books “Animal Farm” and “Fahrenheit 451.” In their conversations, it was clear that the hip-hop artists were keenly interested in something similar to the illustrator’s work for Hunter Thompson, something with blitzed out desert imagery and a manic sense of dread.
It’s familiar territory to Steadman, but what drew the artist to the musicians was their looks. Their hair, specifically. He thought he could do a lot of fun stuff with their dreadlocks. On the cover, Quavo appears in a long trench coat, while Scott looks like he’s just emerged from one of those Fallout jumpsuits.
“Most of my friends haven’t gotten any hair anymore,” Steadman told Rolling Stone, his old haunt. “I just really thought they were quite funny. And I wondered what I could do with them or how I could draw them. And I just did it in the best way I could.”
The nimble Steadman finished the cover in a week.