We all know the three elements of the Migos: Offset, Quavo, and Takeoff. I’d like to add three more: trap anthems, iconic ad libs, and some of the most overwhelming jewelry in the game. It’s the latter that the Atlanta-trio is concerned with when I call them up for a chat. Even though it’s just a regular day for the Migos – Quavo just gave his car an oil change, Offset is in the garden with his kids, and Takeoff is perched in front of his iPhone inside the house – the rappers still manage to rock dizzying pieces of jewelry that I’d rather not guess the values of. It’s part of the rap uniform after all, and it’s very to the point when you’re promoting a new show called Ice Cold.
The YouTube show, which premieres today, is a big step for the Migos. This is the first time the trio have served as executive producers, but it’s also especially significant to the culture that they’ve naturally become the ambassadors of. Laced with celebrity appearances from the likes of Lil Baby, J Balvin, Lil Yachty, A$AP Ferg, and City Girls, this could be another MTV Cribs-esque exhibition for the rich and famous to flaunt their wealth. But for the Migos, the jewelry culture in hip-hop goes much deeper – it’s even skin deep for Quavo, who’s got a Rolex crown tatted above his brow.
See, Ice Cold isn’t the flex-fest you think it might be, instead the show cleverly uses the prism and allure of hip-hop jewelry to explore deeper issues around racial inequality and the American Dream. Since ancient times, jewelry has primarily symbolized one thing since the very beginning: status. But when you’re young, rich, and Black in America, the bling status means so much more.
Ahead of the premier of their new series, I spoke with rap’s most indelible – and iced out – trio about their love for jewelry and the power of showing off and showing out.
So how did Ice Cold come about? What was it like as a collective to go from being rappers to being executive producers of a show?
Takeoff: You know, we're at the forefronts of jewelry. We came in with the jewelry. Wanted to give the knowledge on the jewelry because there’s so much. So many people had things to say about the jewelry without having the knowledge of the jewelry. Everybody thought it'd depreciate or it wasn't a good buy. And we just wanted to give you the real information and the real background about the jewelry and what it meant to us and what it meant to the culture.
What’s your earliest memory or the first moment you remember being like “I need to be iced out like that one day, I chains, I need watches, I need to be on that"?
Quavo: If I wasn't rapping, I'd still have some jewelry on. So, I just feel like that's a part of the wardrobe. That's a part of life, especially coming from nothing. We got to show them something. You know what I mean? I feel like that’s just the first step to being something when you’re from nothing. Being from the North side, being from the struggle, you want to reward yourself. And I feel like those trophies right there, being young, Black and from places where people think you're going to be nothing already, a sign to show them that you got something going on is jewelry.
I see that it's very motivational, especially in Black culture and hip-hop culture. But do you also feel like it puts pressure on up-and-coming artists in the industry to be flashy?
Quavo: Nah, that's your preference. That's your preference.
Offset: Yeah, its different artists for different styles. I mean, not every artist needs jewelry. You know what I'm saying? So, it's how you want to go about it.
What was the piece of jewelry that you got when you first felt like "I've made it"?
Quavo: Rolex. I went and got that tatted on my face. Just to let you know, you're a king. Just make you feel good and it don't depreciate, it'll always go up in value. I feel like the Rolex, in Black culture, means a lot. I feel like having that watch is the first step of an investment, first step of being somebody to us.
Like you said, you see jewelry as an investment. So, is this your way of making up for a generational wealth that wasn't necessarily there?
Offset: Kind of and kind of not because we're never buying jewelry to make a profit off of it. It's just, you know for the culture it means a lot. But of course, for generational wealth, obviously you got to invest and find a company and find something that makes liquid profit. That's going to make your family eat 35 years, 50 years from now. There’s got to be residual coming in. So, you still got to invest. We not saying “Don't invest, take this jewelry and think that this jewelry is going to make you a billion dollars later on." Yeah, if you get the right pieces you can sell your stuff down the line, you just got to know who to sell it to. But for generational wealth, you still got to have proper investments put into place for it to make money for your family down the line.
So where did the idea for the show come from?
Quavo: Shout out to [Kevin "Coach K." Lee]. Coach and [Pierre "P" Thomas], they drew up a full play and was talking about how important the jewelry is. He started by saying "One night at the hotel, I drew up a piece on a napkin". And boom, we had the three headed monster Migo piece. So, they went out to YouTube and YouTube thought it was a great idea. And we went through the industry and everybody wanted to be a part of it. Everybody wanted to show they jewelry and give they testimony on what jewelry means to them. And that's how we came up with the show, Ice Cold.
Is there a moment or a person that really stands out from the show?
Quavo: A really interesting moment was just Slick Rick, his stories about the jewelry and just to see, the kind of pieces still on him today, lasting that long, lasting multiple years, over 20 years. Just to see he still got those pieces. You don't know how hard it is to keep up with all that jewelry. You don't know how hard it is to protect yourself from people, from family or from friends or from people that's not your friend trying to take the jewelry. Just to see he still got those pieces, it's a thing to see.
Offset: Everybody got some incredible stories in there. So, it's real nice.
Who in your opinion had the wildest jewelry collection?
Offset: Who got the wildest? Gucci. I'll say one of them.
Takeoff: Jay-Z got the wildest watches. Kevin Hart got some of the wildest watches.
Quavo: Floyd Mayweather.
Offset: Yeah, Floyd got some. Got to put Floyd in there.
What about with you three? Be honest, who is the most iced out out of all three of you?
Offset: We all iced out, we connected, baby. It's a three-headed monster.
Quavo: Yeah, we all got significant pieces. I feel like we all probably got the same amount of pieces because every time somebody cop one, we cop one. Every time somebody drop one, we drop some. So, we can't never try to get up on each other. You know what I'm saying?
Takeoff: We don't compete against each other. We don't do the competing. We don't compete against each other, so if anything my brother inspires me to do something. But we all do it together. So, one person do it, just imagine it’s times three.
Is it always about the price tag though? Or is there jewelry that’s really not that valuable materialistically but that means a lot because it’s sentiment?
Quavo: I think our pieces are more sentimental than people think. That's where we came from, without that place, we wouldn't be in this interview so. Then it's like, Migo gang pieces is what we representing. Then like my favorite cartoon character is Freakazoid so I got that in ice. I think it's more what it means to us. The price tag going to be the price tag, we ain't worried about the number. The number going to be the number, whether it's going to be 250, 300, 200, or 100. But it's more intimate.
Takeoff: Every piece means something. Everything we got means something. We can describe and tell you what each piece, whatever piece you want to know means. We can give you a little description behind it.
Quavo, I see a very interesting Star Wars-themed Yoda chain you're rocking right now...
Quavo: That's Space Coupe Quavo Yoda pouring, dranking soda. I said that in “T-Shirt.” That's the first time I bought the Space Coupe and ever since then, I've been calling myself Space Coupe Quavo Yoda.
How do you want the culture to react to Ice Cold coming out?
Offset: Want them to open up they brain, you feel me?
Quavo: Yes, respect the game, respect the ice, respect the craftsmanship, respect all the artists, respect all the musicians that's going to go get this jewelry. We're letting y'all know how much it means, we're letting y'all know this is our American Dream like you said. And this is the life that we want to live. And it's all in some way, always going to be tied in with why we do it because we from the culture. We came from nothing so this is the lifestyle of just, like you said, the American Dream that comes from nothing. Starting from scratch with a suitcase and a bag and letting it go. So, that's what we want y'all to understand in this documentary.
For a lot of people, when we look at rappers like yourselves, especially the way you present yourselves with the jewelry and the lyrics, the flex and all of that, it’s so aspirational. What do you have to say to the kids who look up to you guys and who want to make it, who want to get to where you are?
Offset: You can do it too.
Quavo: Keep God first. Count your blessings. Work hard.
Takeoff: Work hard to take care of your family. Set goals, don't try to rush it. Be inspired, but don't try to keep up with anybody, you can set your own pace. Let your creativity and your art take you to a place where nobody thought that it could take you.
Offset: You not in competition with nobody. Keep God first and have a team around you. People who care about you and who’re going to tell you the right things even when you don't want to hear it. And just go hard if that's what you really want to do. And stay at it.
Revisit our 2020 cover story with Migos here.