Notorious B.I.G., JAY-Z, and Nicki Minaj’s Custom Jewelry To Be Displayed at The American Museum of Natural History

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It’s all about the drip.

The American Museum of Natural History has announced that it will highlight the history and the evolution of jewelry worn in hip-hop—one of the most enduring aspects of the culture. 

According to the press release, beginning on May 9, “Ice Cold: An Exhibition of Hip-Hop Jewelry” will be on display in the Melissa and Keith Meister Gallery. The gems that were worn by hip-hop legends such as JAY-Z, The Notorious B.I.G. A$AP Rocky, Slick Rick, Nikki Minaj, Ghostface Killah, and many more will be featured.

On display will be the famous gold rope chains of Run DMC, the gold Jesus piece worn by the Notorious B.I.G on his posthumous 1999 album cover “Born Again”, and Slick Rick’s gem-studded crown which pays homage to his U.K. roots. The iced-out Roc-A-Fella medallion, Nicki Minaj’s “Barbie” necklaces, and jewelry from Tyler, the Creator, and Erykah Badu, will also be featured.

Sean M. Decatur, the museum’s president, expressed his excitement about the exhibit in a statement.

“Hip-hop jewelry has had a huge impact on our wider modern culture,” Decatur’s statement read. “These jewelry pieces are not just magnificent in and of themselves, they’re an important part of hip-hop history and hip-hop culture as artists claimed and transformed traditional symbols of luxury and success.”

“Jewelry is a cornerstone of hip-hop culture and you can see the evolution of jewelry alongside the rise of hip-hop itself,” Ice Cold guest curator Vikki Tobak explained. “From being a culture formed in communities and neighborhoods, and then stepping into its power and starting to impact global pop culture, hip-hop, and its jewelry tell a bigger story. This exhibition explores that world of hip-hop’s culture of adornment and celebrates the pioneering artists and jewelers who made it all come together.”

The exhibit stems from the work of Tobak who authored Ice Cold: A Hip-Hop Jewelry History,” in 2022.

Kevin “Coach K” Lee, founder and COO of Quality Control Music, and Karam Gill, creative director and filmmaker behind the 2021 documentary series “ICE COLD,” are guest co-curators.

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