Every detail behind hip-hop artist Benjamin Starr’s creation of A Water Album, which will be live-recorded this Sat. Sept. 22 at the Charleston Music Hall, has been thoroughly thought-out, every move holding multiple, often heavy, meanings. The album art is definitely no exception. We spoke with artist Samira Miché (also a DJ, Sista Misses) this week for a glimpse into the process behind creating the powerful image that will grace the cover of Starr’s upcoming LP.

Miché explains that the image represents ancestral strength — the composition reflecting the album as a metaphor for Black enlightenment. The vision began with early conversations between she and Starr. “We discussed our ideas in relation to his album’s subject, wanting listeners to be sure about their history and who we are as Black Americans,” she says. “It explores the extension of water as a natural element and life force.”

The resulting image combines hand-drawn sketches with digital art to show the elements that connect Black Americans to water and its importance in the Lowcountry.

“I definitely wanted to create a nostalgic feel for the vinyl cover with an eclectic mix of texture,” Miché explains. “I also strayed away with using a conventional approach to the design when it comes to color and our first thoughts of water; I used gold as well as blue and earth elements.”

While creating, Miché drew influence from jazz records and musicians like Miles Davis, Sun Rá, and Earth Wind and Fire. “Often the art for these covers would have fluent abstract art that have underlying messages about religion, spirituality, and activism,” she says. “I used the same treatment for the album cover.”

To learn more about A Water Album and its all-encompassing live recording, see our cover story this week by Heath Ellison.