Rolling Out

Why is the ‘Ice Cold’ exhibit at American Museum of Natural History authentic?

Coach K, LENNY S. and Vikki Tobak explain the exhibit

The “Ice Cold: An Exhibition of Hip-Hop Jewelry” at the American Museum of Natural History in New York opened on May 9. The exhibit features jewelry pieces from the likes of hip-hop legends like Slick Rick, Public Enemy, De La Soul, April Walker, Roxanne Shanté, Pharrell and Jay-Z up to the more younger artists like Tyler, The Creator, Nicki Minaj, Drake, A$AP Ferg, A$AP Rocky, Quavo, Takeoff, Lil Baby, Nipsey Hussle, Young Dolph and Ken Carson.

The exhibit is located in the museum’s Richard Gilder Center for Science in a section dedicated to rocks of all sizes. The opening night guest list was star-studded with hip-hop media giants like Brandon “Jinx” Jenkins, NPR’s Sidney Madden — who curates many of the company’s rap Tiny Desks — and Rob Markman. Artists like A$AP Ferg, Roxanne Shanté and Joey Bada$$ were also present.

The showcase was put together by Vikki Tobak, the author of Ice Cold: A Hip-Hop Jewelry History; Coach K, the founder of Quality Control Music; and Karam Gill, the filmmaker of Ice Cold. The advisory board features Slick Rick, Roc Nation executive LENNY S., Alex Moss, Mandy Aragones, Timothy Anne Burnside, Pete Nice, Tanisha Ford and Bevy Smith.

Rolling out attended the exhibit’s media preview and opening night party near Central Park and asked one simple question:

In an esteemed establishment like the American Museum of Natural History, how did you all bring this exhibit to life while preserving the true essence of hip-hop and jewelry culture?

Coach K: Have you walked in there and seen the pieces?

It’s super authentic.

LENNY S.: The proof is in there.

Vikki Tobak: One thing that I’ve always loved about hip-hop is that it never needed outside validation.

We don’t need to be here to be validated. If you look at the show, I think a lot of people would be like, “Oh, I want to see the bling-iest piece.” I made sure there were going to be artists in there who were not “blingy.” You have [DJ] Kool Herc’s leather medallion. You have April Walker’s nameplate in there. You have De La Soul’s and Public Enemy’s leather medallions, which speak to a whole other part of jewelry culture, these history commodities and the African diaspora.

We could have very easily made this show real light, but I think anyone who walks in that show is going to be able to understand. … The people who came here to see Lil Baby or Tyler may not reach far back into that history, but that’s why we made that show what you see in there.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Join our Newsletter

Sign up for Rolling Out news straight to your inbox.

Read more about:
Also read
Rolling Out