Ungracious, it’s the recurring word that surrounds Michael Jordan's 2009 Hall Of Fame induction speech. Not thanking others while you stand at the podium while receiving the highest honors that can be bestowed isn’t a sin but it will spark some chatter about your character. Michael wasn’t very thankful, that’s his prerogative as the speech giver, but that didn’t stop the journalists from typing and the people from talking. The significance of that night no longer surrounds the speech or his induction, the moment that is still relevant in 2016 is the tears that he shed before a word was spoken. Crying Jordan, he had no way of knowing the ugly face he made while having a moment of sincerity would turn into the most infamous internet meme years later.
No face is safe from the crying Jordan - rappers, ball players, engagement rings, babies and baby momma’s can all be meme’d in seconds. To fail on the internet within the public eye is asking to find your face replaced. Meme’s are within the internet’s microwave, they enter and exit the revolving door everyday but the crying Jordan has survived somehow without overstaying its welcome. I consider it the internet’s flagship meme, a universal face known by all that logs in and logs out of social media. When ScHoolboy Q revealed his album cover as a crying Jordan with the face blanked out there was an immediate reaction. Q took the crying Jordan to a place that it has never been before, the front of a major label album.
It once again brought up the discussion of how album covers are being memeified - Drake perfected the new form of cover art with Views. Kanye’s The Life Of Pablo was also turned into a meme sensation after it’s unveiling. ScHoolboy is being praised and criticized for having a cover that falls right into the internet’s hands. You can see it as a lazy, effortless cover that will only be a trending topic for a day or genius marketing to capitalize on the growing legacy of the internet’s favorite meme. It would only be a matter of time before his cover would receive the crying Jordan treatment, in a way, he beat the internet at it’s own game. Trolling the trolls you could say. If the Empire State building is a landmark of New York, if the Eiffel Tower is a landmark of Paris, if the CN Tower is a landmark of Toronto, then the crying Jordan is a landmark of the internet and all social media.
Before it’s considered that Q is only using the silhouette of the Jordan meme to win the internet it could be a much bigger deal that’s surrounding his album. The album title is Blank Face. We were first introduced to the blank face concept in the video for “Groovy Tony.” In the video all the victims that he kills are faceless, the presidents on the bills that sit on the ground after his car crash are faceless, there’s even a clip of him being a faceless gangster shooting his automatic weapon. You can see it being reminiscent of Dick Tracy’s The Blank, a famous character from the comic strip series well known for his faceless appearance. He was the villain that sought to kill his former criminal ties after escaping from prison. Q raps, “Groovy Tony, no face killer” that alludes a similarity to the comic strip that debuted in 1931. In the music video for “THat Part” there’s no gangsters or killings but the three guys that surround Q are all faceless. There’s a much bigger theme at play here, it has yet to reveal itself, but the dots are slowly being connected.
There’s no telling what the bigger picture is for Q’s album and how it ties into the crying Jordan cover. With the internet becoming a huge influence on art, more meme covers are to be expected. It is a method that fits well within the times we live in. Some will be corny, others will be clever, but there will be an abundance of meme-inspired covers in the future.
Call it lazy, call it weak, but in this microwave memes are impacting popular culture and Jordan’s crying face happens to be the face of its movement.
UPDATE: Q just released the art for his deluxe album featuring Donald Trump with his face blanked out. It's officially a whole thing.
UPDATE 2: Q just confirmed with TMZ that both of these covers are not the real art for his upcoming Blank Face album. Q did say, however, that following the initial release he asked his management about the possibility of making the crying Jordan cover the actual cover, but collectively they never were serious about it. Thank god.