Even more so than the great music we got this year, which was indeed all over the place, hip hop album covers failed to be unified by any common threads or trends. We got collages, portraits, doctored photos, surrealist paintings, video game-style renderings, highly literal interpretations of artists' personas, trippy doodles-- techniques that pull from more traditions and toolkits than the songs they accompany. We selected our fifteen favorites, culled from both albums and mixtapes, with the criteria of not only a stunning visual component, but also a connection with the stories, mood, or sound of the project in question.