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Institute of Contemporary Arts

A glossary of terms pertinent to mining “Jesus Died For Us, We Will Die For Dudus!”

A Jewellers
In their own words:
“After selling his first piece of jewellery at the tender age of 19, Abtin Abbasi worked his way up through the seemingly impenetrable, old-school world of the London jewel trade, before establishing A Jewellers, which fast became the trendsetter for custom-made contemporary jewellery and watches on the UK showbiz scene.”

Baggy spaces  
Lawless or quasi-lawless spaces that exist in all cities, serving social functions. Baggy spaces have distinct formal properties, particular to their individual functions,  that allow them to operate legibly for those in the know, and yet remain under the radar. 

Black culture
A hyperobject that exists in the mind of some people who imagine a monolithic, well defined set of practices and products that are assumed to be understood by all Black people. In actuality, Black culture is harder to define, even from the inside.  

Buss down
A buss down refers to an item like a watch that has been modified after market (literally bust down and remade) to add gems, often ‘flooding’ or ‘icing out’ the original to an extravagant and eye-catching degree.  

A customer, seeking goods or services. Their identity, disposition and reception may vary widely according to context. The same person, presenting in different settings may be received as a high value client in one context, but an irrelevance or even a threat in another. Manner and appearance condition reception.  

A highly regarded style of chain, popularised within rap culture.

A show-case of goods for sale; putting on a front, false or otherwise, to indicate something about your status or intentions.

False front
Something that appears to be other than it is; a first layer that hides subsequent layers with the intent to direct attention away from these inner workings.  

Grow room 
An intensive indoor marijuana growing operation, making use of hydroponic techniques for plant cultivation to maximise crop yields and therefore profits. 

Gucci link 
Another style of chain link, popularised by Gucci, also known as a mariner link.    

Hatton Garden 
London’s historic jewellery district, home to hundreds of retail and wholesale merchants, setters and dealers, including A Jewellers. Internationally connected and notoriously difficult for outsiders to parse or penetrate.  

Jesus piece 
A pendant depicting the face of Jesus, with a crown of thorns. Popularised by The Notorious B.I.G. in the 90s. Having been reprised by numerous rappers since, in its many iterations it is now regarded as one of the most iconic pieces of jewellery in rap culture.

An optical illusion frequently seen in the desert that lends itself to mental fabulation.  

An example of a Baggy space to be found in many cities and towns that act as illegal drug dispensaries. Classically configured with some kind of legitimate retail operation as a false front, clients approach a ‘peep hole’ to receive the goods. Often unintelligible to those not in the know, they traffic in subtle cues as to their real business, that telegraph clearly to their clientele.  

Rap culture 
A blanket term covering all the subgenres involved with Hip Hop culture including but not limited to UK Drill, Grime and Road Rap. With complex origin histories and contentious questions of ownership, this term covers many bases.  

Olfactory signatures perceptible to humans and other animals. Some are derived from natural sources, such as woods or flowers, others are synthesised in laboratories. By weight scent molecules are amongst the most expensive commodities available to buy. Viscerally experienced, and layered with cultural and personal meanings, scents travel across boundaries that may otherwise appear impenetrable.  

In literal terms a state of safety; something provided as collateral; colloquially a catch-all term for equipment and technology as well as personnel employed and deployed to ensure the integrity and safety of goods and people. This may include architectural features such as man-traps, alarms or CCTV, and behavioural codes such as removal of hats, hoods or gloves, as well as the presence of a person who will intervene to protect that which is under threat.  

Silk Road 
The historic trading routes that ran between east and west, where goods, ideas and people moved across the pre-modern world. Facilitating cross-cultural connections, and encounters with divergent customs and mores, the Silk Road was the primary conduit for commodities, novelty and value creation, and a nexus for the development of cultures both in cooperation and competition. Latterly, the name for a hub on the dark web where buyers and sellers of illicit goods could connect and do business outside of the confines of nation state borders or legal frameworks.  

UK Drill 
UK Drill is a subgenre of Drill music and Road Rap that originated in Brixton, South London, from 2012 onwards. UK Drill initially borrowed heavily from the style of Chicago Drill music before creating its own unique sound, and it has now seen itself become the starting point for many other sounds around the globe, in cities such as New York and Paris and countries such as Australia, Ireland, Italy, and Spain.  

V.I.P. Room 
The inner sanctum of various retail operations, legal or illegal. Used to ensure security, to impress, and see for the more private conversations or most privileged details of high level dealing. Its existence guarantees the immediate stratification of clients into classes: those who are very important, and those who are less so. The best products or high value items might be kept here and displayed exclusively to those permitted access.  

Weed café 
Another kind of Baggy space, functioning as a kind of speakeasy for weed smokers. Concealed behind a false front, or otherwise innocuous disguise, weed cafés are effectively social clubs or members clubs centred around the purchase and consumption of marijuana. 

© R.I.P. Germain & Marilyn Thompson, London, 2023