The cover art for Pusha T’s album Daytona is a picture of Whitney Houston’s bathroom. It was taken in 2006, but it appears older and more worn than it is, perhaps because of the border of what seems to be faux water damage. The décor is distinctly ’90s, an aggressive attempt to look soft. The counters are cluttered, strewn with all the ingredients required to sustain an addiction—spoons caked with powder, pipes, papers, cigarette butts.
That Houston is not in the photo is irrelevant. There is plenty we know about the occupant by instinct. The person who commands this space is not broke. They are not a new user, nor a casual one. At this point, Houston was more than a decade into a battle against crack and cocaine addiction, an addiction that she often denied. “I feel like the cover represents an organized chaos,” Pusha said. “Looking at that cover, I’m sure whoever frequents that bathroom or area knew whatever they wanted to find and knew where it was.”
Tina Brown, Bobby Brown’s sister and Whitney’s then-sister-in-law, took the photos and sold them to the National Enquirer. She also divulged deeply intimate details about Houston’s addiction, family, and relationships. “Whitney won’t stay off the drugs. It’s every single day. It’s so ugly,” Brown said. The tabloids reported on it with a mix of smug derision and hollow lament. They expected no more from a drug addict. “It’s hard to believe that [this] drugged, dazed woman … was once one of the most beautiful and popular singers in the world,” wrote one reporter. “But today that woman, Whitney Houston, is just another crackhead.”
Pusha is a protégé of West, a disciple of the church of provocation. West produced Daytona and it was West who insisted on paying the $85,000 licensing fee to use the picture for the cover. “This what people need to see to go along with this music,” Pusha said West told him.
And the photo is provocative. It’s visceral, even. Photos tend to rely on the living to turn stomachs, but this picture manages to pull it off insensate. There are no pretenses here. It’s uncomfortable, like walking past a couple screaming on the sidewalk. Just by existing, you barge in uninvited. By no fault of your own, you invade.
Over the past 30 years, hip-hop has garnered a reputation as lawless, angry, and violent. Throughout …
Source:: The Atlantic – Culture