A&E’s ‘Hip Hop Treasures’ hunts for iconic memorabilia
A&E is celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop by debuting a new show hosted by LL Cool J and Ice-T called “Hip Hop Treasures,” which is basically a hunt for iconic memorabilia from the ground-breaking genre.
Episodes will focus on items like The Notorious B.I.G.’s iconic jersey from the “Juicy” video, Flavor Flav’s clocks and DMX’s Aaliyah car. The show can be found Saturdays on A&E at 10 p.m.; episode one was Aug. 12.
When Cipha Sounds, a DJ at Hot 97 in New York from 1998 to 2015, was asked to join the show, he said yes immediately. He joined West Coast rapper Yo-Yo as a field collector, hitting the field to seek valuable artifacts from rap royalty.
He himself has an attic full of memorabilia from his time at the radio station as well as a storage unit filled with 18,000 vinyl albums.
“I’m a hoarder. An organized hoarder,” he said. “My first concert was Wu-Tang Clan before they were anybody. I still have the ticket stub from the nightclub on Long Island. The music made me feel so good I kept it in a drawer.”
Items found on the show will end up at the Universal Hip Hop Museum in the Bronx, known as the birthplace of hip hop. It’s set to open in 2024. Museum curators Pete Nice of 3rd Bass and Paradise Gray are producers of the show and show up on screen in each episode.
“These kings and queens of culture deserve to be celebrated and elevated,” LL Cool J said in the opening episode.
The first episode featured Cipha trying to find Notorious B.I.G.’s iconic crown seen on a million T-shirts. “My first big job was working for Lil Kim at age 20,” he said. “I was around Biggie and Junior M.A.F.I.A. It was emotional taping that episode. This show may be about collectibles, but it’s just as much about the stories behind them. To me, that’s gold. Being on Biggie’s block and how he used to hang out on the stoop, the same place he shot the video for ‘Juicy.’”
Cipha flew to Atlanta for one episode to hang with Outkast’s Big Boi at the Dungeon, the well-known Atlanta space in the Lakewood Heights neighborhood where he and his Outkast partner Andre 3000 wrote, created and hung out. Big Boi purchased the space in 2019 and turned it into an Airbnb spot in 2021.
“Cee Lo Green took us all over,” Cipha said. “We were supposed to have him for two hours, but we ended up talking hip hop for five hours. It was incredible.”
Although Cee Lo is a big part of Atlanta hip hop, Cipha was impressed with his knowledge of old-school New York hip hop. “He could rap Sugarhill Gang and Rakim,” he said.
The show also featured Coolio’s final interview before the legendary rapper died in 2022 at age 59 of an accidental fentanyl overdose. “That was sad,” he said.
Cipha is just thrilled to be part of this show, which took him into all sorts of basements, attics and storage units.
“When I was a kid, I had no hope,” Cipha said. “I had no future. When I found hip hop, it just changed my whole life. Every little piece of it that I could contribute, I am very grateful. I don’t take it for granted. I’m super appreciative and happy to be small part of hip hop history.”
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