Being an OWG (old White guy), I was a little startled to see an article in today’s New York Times on a jewelry store in Atlanta, GA, Icebox, which caters to Hip-Hop start with what I would consider incredibly vulgar diamond encrusted jewelry. It seems the store cultivates very personal relationships with their customers and even keeps special preferred snacks on hand for some important clients. They did a pop-up store at a client’s birthday party where the client brought $10M and ten security guards. Then, the store’s secondary business is a Youtube channel where they share videos of clients picking jewelry in the store. Nice work if you can get it, I guess. Who knew? I thought some here might be interested or have a comment.
Hey guys and women
I’m here people, I haven’t gone anywhere, what are your question(s)?
It’s nice that I’m needed, honestly if this was put out as a question…Just email me. Unfortunately, our US & Canadian borders are still Covid-19 closed, but our emails are always open, thankfully!
Just my poor attempt at humor…when I saw what the Icebox in Atlanta was selling, encrusted with diamonds, I thought of you. Maybe there’s another whole career for you outfitting rappers and hip-hop stars…
If anyone will help this fellow with new stuff, it will be Gerry. Count on it!
The cultural significance of the type of jewelry you’re referring to is fascinating. It is a transgressive act for Black people to adorn themselves with demonstrations of wealth and status in a society which is still so heavily invested in their oppression.
Perhaps that is it, then, a “transgressive act.” From my upbringing, that kind of jewelry just seems vulgar, but if it is a cultural statement, perhaps that has to be taken into account.
I was surprised at the excess of pave’ on some of the pieces, as I’ve never seen anything quite like it outside of Gerry’s fabled poker chip. They must have some pretty good jewelers on staff at Icebox if they can do that stuff. The only stuff with that much pave’ that I have seen is the old Cartier animals and such, and that is so artistic…to me, at least. -royjohn
The thing about hip hop culture and Black culture more broadly is that as white people, we are never going to truly get it. It’s all based on a lived experience that we can never really understand no matter how hard we try- and that’s fine, because it’s not for us. Our tastes are not relevant.
There’s definitely some masterful work out there. And I know there’s at least some element of “okay this person did this, how can I take it to the next level” competition and innovation at play. Some very cool things can come out of that.
The problem isn’t that you’re old, white or a guy, the problem is that you’re wrapping racism and classism together into one regrettable package. Let’s unpack how:
Your comment is that the jewelry is vulgar. The concern with vulgarity is the classist part, and also self-defeating because, as mentioned in Fussel’s “Class”, this kind of concern with vulgarity and class consciousness is a middle class thing, Uppers don’t care and Proles are fine where they are. So you’re getting your knickers in a twist on behalf of people who won’t really appreciate it.
The racist part is where you rate the cultural and aesthetic expression of a different group as vulgar and undesirable simply because it’s not in line with European aesthetic. You can not like it, but that’s not what you said, instead you passed a value judgment on it, where you declared this jewelry and by extension the people who enjoy it as low quality, unfit for social relevance, like people have been saying about Black folks in America for 200 years now.
I doubt you think of yourself as a racist person. I’m sure you have the best of intentions and you try not to see color. But you slipped up here, as do we all, and it would be good to use this as an opportunity to understand your biases (we all have them in some flavor or another) and maybe try to learn about the meaning of things that aren’t meant for you before trashing them.
I was a little afraid to comment on this, but thought my meaning was clear. Evidently not. Sorry you see it as racist. You seem to have assumed a lot about me.
I see a lot of Rococo architecture as slightly vulgar, too. Does that mean I’m discriminating against Germans or Europeans in general?
My knickers are not in a twist. They fit fine.
There is lots of jewelry, some I like, some I don’t. Some strikes me as vulgar, some doesn’t. I’m sure that is true for you, too, whether you admit it or not. I hope I am bemused when I meet people wearing it. And that I treat them well, regardless of what they are wearing.
I think Goth stuff is generally vulgar, too, so I guess I’m ageist as well as racist and classist.
I guess I’ll try not to use the W word again…
Thanks for your comments, which I really will consider. My problem is that I don’t really understand a lot of social theory.
(post withdrawn by author, will be automatically deleted in 24 hours unless flagged)
I accidentally deleted my reply so here it is again
I assumed you didn’t do it on purpose or with the intent to do harm. I’d like to continue assuming this, but if I’m wrong I’ll unhappily change my mind.
There is a world of difference between finding the use of Rococo today vulgar, and finding the current cultural practices of a historically oppressed group vulgar. The reason for that is that the concept of vulgarity relies on the existence of classes and the ranking thereof. Something can only be vulgar if it appeals to the masses, and those masses are ranked below an elite minority group. Thus, the idea of vulgarity is, in itself, classist. To judge something as vulgar is to operate and uphold that classist system. When you apply this to the aesthetic developed by a historically oppressed group, especially one who had its original culture and aesthetic denied and taken away from it, you are supporting their continued oppression by enforcing their position in the ranking of classes. Because their position in the ranking of class has a racist cause and a racist root, enforcing that is also racist.
You can say you don’t like the look, the aesthetic is not your favorite, whatever. But when you apply the notion of vulgarity, it opens up many cans of worms because of the complicated history of black people in America. Some of those cans of worms are not opened when you call Rococo or Goth Fashion vulgar because they do not exist in the same context of oppression, cultural destruction and enslavement that black people have historically lived in. They have different histories and so to call them vulgar carries different meaning.
I hope my point is a little clearer now, I was typing on a cellphone before and that very much discourages everything. I’m not saying you are racist, I’m saying you said a racist thing. It happens, everyone makes a faux pas now and then. Saying a racist thing by mistake doesn’t make you a racist, it’s what happens after that matters. You sound like you want to understand this, and that’s great, that’s why I bothered to type this all out for you, because you have an open mind and a desire for understanding and together we can both work something out and grow as people.
I’m not going to go into the semiotics of hip hop jewelry because I’m not part of that group, it’s not my culture, and I don’t know enough about it. I did find this though, which is informative A Brief History of Bling: Hip-Hop Jewelry Through the Ages specifically this quote at the end:
Rap historians will agree that in the beginning, hip-hop was a medium for the oppressed, segregated and subjected people of color and lower income brackets. It was rooted in activism and resistance, not just partying and materialism. Rap was music for people who could probably never imagine themselves adorned in diamonds and precious metals. Rap was for people who were on the bottom of the social hierarchy.
So when a select few were able to climb out of that despair into the ranks of the rich via rap, it wasn’t enough to have it. It had to be flaunted. It had to be shown for all the world to see. The more wealth that was acquired, the more shines there were to be admired. Rap has always been about struggle in one form or another, while jewelry in rap has always symbolized escaping that struggle. As Meek Mill pointedly called it, jewelry is a “trap trophy.” Which means that though bling may still denote status, in the world of hip-hop, it means a great deal more.
I think that calling someone’s symbol of escaping their struggle “vulgar” comes off as a bit of a kick to the teeth, don’t you think? Basically says “You might have made the money, gotten the wealth, but you’re still there at the bottom of the heap, you’re still right where you started and you’re still a lesser person.”
I really do not know the rules here in this forum regarding politics and religion.
But on other forums where I spend time, discussing politics and religion is banned.
This is due to the strong feelings it may cause.
People easily get agitated and either insult others or get insulted them self, pushing people to say things they should not have said.
That said, I hope this last part almost calling names and pushing at each other will come to an end here.
It is important topics, but not here on this forum.
I’m sure there are foras dedicated to similar topics.
I hope I haven’t been “almost calling names and pushing at each other”. If I have offended you or other Orchidians, I apologize. I agree that I regard the intrusion of politics into our discussions here as unwelcome. However, when people start saying that I’ve made racist statements, I feel the urge to defend my good name.
I have thought a lot about this. My mistake was to use the term White, which unfortunately left the door open for someone to talk about race. I should have just said that the hip-hop jewelry I saw on the site I referenced did not look good to me and left it at that. I am an old guy who is out of touch with popular music of all types. Hip-hop is now a world wide phenomenon that is across America, Europe and other continents…it’s multiracial. My comment was about specific jewelry that is associated with hip-hop stars in the US. It wasn’t about anybody else.
I recently read Matthieu Chiminee’s book about West African jewelry and I was blown away by the craftsmanship. I like Chinese jade and pottery and the art in Mosques. So I don’t see it being about race or religion.
I won’t comment or respond any more in this thread. Marie, I have found your comments interesting even if I disagree. If you write me at rkerseyATtdsDOT net, we can continue to discuss away from here, or I can give you my phone number.
No I was not trying to point at you or anyone else.
I merely hoped to intervene before something escalated, which is not unheared of in such circumstances.
There are waay to many people getting offended on own or even other behalves in the world today.
Mostly because of things and happenings with no intentions thereof.
I still would have liked an input regarding improper/banned topics.
When regarding beauty or lack there of, see that is a library not a book
And of course a ton of personal preferences.
Quality of workmanship should be objective, but even this may have subjective overtones.
I have this idea that each and everyone of us are the center of their own universe, regarding perception, experiences and so on, and we should strive to acknowledge this, when dealing with others, even though it is hard at times.
I hope this makes sense and do not offend anyone
There’s a movie called I’m Gonna Git You Sucka that came out in 1988
It was produced by Keenan Ivory Wayans and had a full black cast
It made fun off the hip hop jewelry aesthetic
I don’t think royjons is racist for pointing out the extra nature of hip hop jewelry just as Wayans was not racist for pointing out the same
Perhaps it’s the use of the term vulgar that should instead be looked at
And, this is where I jump off of this train wreck of a site.
Thank you for fleshing this out far better than I was able to. This is all precisely what I was alluding to.