YouTube Originals' new four-part docuseries Ice Cold, which premieres July 9, uses the prism of hip-hop jewelry to explore deeper issues around racial inequality and the American Dream -- but it didn't exactly start out that way. Director Karam Gill tells ABC Audio that the initial idea behind the project was to use jewelry as an entry point to explore hip-hop.
"Hip-hop has been explored through fashion, it's been explored through so many different avenues but not specifically jewelry," the LA-based filmmaker shares. "The project ended up where it's at right now just over the course of time. That story became less about just flash and prices. It's so much deeper."
"... You start to realize 'Wow, this is actually a conversation about the American Dream... the perception of people based on where they come from or the economic reality of where they're from and how our society views people,'" Gill explains.
Gill goes on to note how pianist Liberace and actress Elizabeth Taylor, both of European descent, were viewed differently for adorning themselves in elaborate jewelry, compared to someone like Jamaican rapper Slick Rick. "Why is that? What does that say about us?" he asks.
While Ice Cold shines a light on some of society's inequalities, it also dives into the hip-hop subculture through the point-of-view of some of the genre's biggest names, like Migos, City Girls and Lil Baby, to top celebrity jewelers like Ben Baller and Johnny Dang.
The overall goal of the docuseries, though, says Gill, is "to provide context."
"I think people will have appreciation," he says. "I don't think people will be writing off rappers, hopefully, as much anymore for expressing themselves."
Ice Cold will be available to stream on Migos' YouTube Channel.