Yesterday, Jay-Z's timeless classic, The Black Album, celebrated fifteen years of life. Many have come to revere Jay's "retirement" sendoff, and rightfully so; the bangers and endless, and Jigga's lyricism is at an arguable peak. Not to mention, the album cover has become an iconic image in hip-hop history. Today, photographer Jonathan Mannion has taken to Instagram to reveal a behind-the-scenes tidbit about the cover's origin. 

"THE ORIGINATOR. Photographed for The Blueprint in 2001. It became the actual blueprint for The Black Album," writes Jonathan Mannion, storied hip-hop photographer. "Repost responsibly... WITH PHOTO CREDIT. When you’re able, always ask permission for ANY photographer’s work that you enjoy. We work as hard as anyone else in this industry and, humbly presented, deserve that respect."

Still, many questions arise. When did the idea to darken the picture arise? Should inspiration have struck earlier, could Blueprint have been called The Black Album in an alternate universe? Either way, we're glad things played out the way they did; Blueprint and Black Album are two of the best albums in the canon. Salute to Jonathan Mannion for sharing one for the liner-notes perusers. Have you revisited The Black Album recently? Maybe it's time to do exactly that.