What’s cooler than being cool?
You guessed it. “Ice Cold,” a forthcoming YouTube Originals docuseries exploring the connection between hip-hop tradition and jewellery, debuted throughout the Tribeca Festival forward of its July 8 launch. The four-part collection was directed by Karam Gill, an rising expertise within the unscripted area, and produced by rap trio Migos, who characteristic prominently within the venture.
The collection, which opens with the mental musings of Talib Kweli, options a mixture of legendary names — from the closely blinged Slick Rick to the extra minimalist group De La Soul — alongside modern heavy-hitters like J Balvin, Lil Yachty, Lily Baby, A$AP Ferg and French Montana. In addition to musical artists, the collection brings in main celeb jewelers, artwork historians and Quality Control label founders Kevin “Coach” Lee and Pierre “Pee” Thomas.
“Hip-hop’s been looked at through the lens of fashion before tons of times, but it hasn’t been looked at through the lens of adornment and jewelry,” says Gill, who noticed jewellery as an entry level into broader societal conversations. “As you start to peel back the layers of the relationship between jewelry and hip-hop, it starts to get really deep about our culture and our society and how people from different socioeconomic backgrounds have different versions of the American dream.”
“Ice Cold” goals to put hip-hop jewellery in a broader historic and cultural context. Gill found that his topics had been greater than prepared to point out off their spectacular collections onscreen, and focus on the extra profound emotional that means behind their items.
“These are childhood dreams. J Balvin and Migos talk about it; they dreamed about this stuff as kids. It’s colors and stones and the shapes; it’s a form of their expression,” says Gill. “We were like, we want to know what this means to you. What does it make you feel? How do you feel when people look at you a certain way for wearing it?” he continues.
“I think that allowed us to get a lot of the really big talent that’s in the project. They were excited to be part of an exploration of culture that was deeper than just numbers and stats and money and flamboyant pricing — not saying that’s not a part of it,” Gill provides. “When you’re making and designing million-dollar pieces, it’s like an art piece.”
Gill, who has additionally directed a documentary on G-Funk and a docuseries on Tekashi 6ix9ine, was shocked to find simply how very important jewellery has been within the evolution of hip-hop and the expression of private fashion. While jewellery can sign a sure degree of success, cash can’t purchase among the most pivotal items. One episode dives into the facility of label chains, and the way they will affect an artist early of their profession by serving as a stamp of approval.
“Like, I didn’t realize that Kanye was not Kanye before Jay-Z gave him the Roc chain,” says Gill. “I always knew that [jewelry] gave people more confidence — the same way when you walk out of your house with a nice T-shirt on you may feel a little bit better than if you were wearing your pajamas — but I was continuously surprised with how important it actually was.”
Migos got here onboard the venture shortly after manufacturing began and had been closely concerned in shaping the varied thematic threads, as had been Lee and Thomas. “These are dudes that have managed, built, grown the biggest artists in the culture and are probably the two biggest hip-hop executives that I think are changing the culture,” says Gill, who’s working with Quality Films, the movie and tv division of Quality Control (Migos’ label), on a number of upcoming scripted and unscripted tasks. “And they were able to provide that stamp of authenticity, but also steer the ship.”
The 4 episodes cowl lots of floor, however every returns to the narrative thread of an imaginary museum exhibition area, the place rappers are depicted in Renaissance era-like work in Baroque frames on the partitions, and their diamond jewellery is displayed in glass circumstances on pedestals as guests stoically mill across the room. The recurring scene was impressed by a need to subvert the predominant museum expertise Gill was uncovered to when rising up, and examine how over-the-top jewels have been used as symbols by each white European monarchs and hip-hop stars.
“So often in these museums, we’d be looking at white monarchs that have colonized Black and brown countries and told to stay five feet away from the paintings,” says Gill. “They’d be painted in these beautiful paintings, hung up on walls and glorified.”
And if the Queen’s jewels are worthy of awe and respect, why not the intricate diamond designs worn by rappers? “My concept was what if we flipped the script and took hip-hop and some Black and brown artists and did the same thing with them?” Gill says. “And use the museum as a subtle commentary on how hip-hop should be viewed through that same prism.”