Like the greatest architects, painters and dinosaur species throughout history, hip hop jewellery is periodic. Run DMC’s rope chain period and Picasso’s blue period? Same thing. Planet Earth’s Jurassic period (made famous by Jeff Goldblum) and Pharrell’s rainbow-diamond era? No difference. But what era are we in now? Is there an artist or movement that embodies and exemplifies said era? Does it look like Takeoff was left off ‘Bad and Boujee’? For these answers we look to a guiding light. A knight of North Atlanta who has yielded his sword again and again for his city, craft and, of course, his Migos.
We look to none other than Quavious Keyate Marshall; and the era? This is the reflection era; this is jewellery imitating art, imitating life.
The opening statement of the hit song that elevated The Migos from trap music contributors to the primary trendsetters of the genre says it all: “You know something, we ain’t never really had no old money. We got a whole lotta new money though.” What a way to make up for the lack of generational wealth; to start it from scratch. To headline festivals, to cover every publication, to drive foreign race cars and, like other figures of wealth, to purchase precious jewels.
While hip hop style continues to become more sophisticated and minimalist, so does the jewellery. It seems like the gaudy custom chains went out with overproduced songs and movie-budget music videos. Like, who even wears Intricate custom pieces anymore? Who can afford it? Who else but the biggest rap trio since Run DMC? (Yeah I said it. Fight me.)
Rap is still growing up, and the top talent are approaching their jewellery purchases in a more artistic way. They no longer need to plaster the name of their record label on a metal name plate using misspelled comic sans in capital letters. In an era of instant information and obsessive music fans, this creates a fun opportunity for artists to let their fans learn about them. They can hide Easter eggs in their content and just let some nerd figure it out on Genius.com. They can read a tastefully written article about their jewellery instead of having to hear them scream it into a microphone.
I know what you’re thinking, “we get it, we get it.” So in the words of Quavo, I’m’a wrap it up den.
This is an extract from Viper’s AW17 NOMAD issue. Buy physical and digital copies via Viper World.
Words by Chris Mendez
Illustration by Lucas Santos