The Art and Influence of Hip Hop

The Art and Influence of Hip Hop

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 98. Custom-made giant gilded 'Gangsta' frame, complete with integrated multi-color LED lighting and sound system .

[Pen & Pixel]

Custom-made giant gilded 'Gangsta' frame, complete with integrated multi-color LED lighting and sound system

Lot Closed

March 30, 05:37 PM GMT


5,000 - 7,000 USD

Lot Details


Custom built and hand-sanded smooth plyboard frame embellished with over 230 items including 18 24k gold plated $100 gold embossed hi-res bank notes, 1 Beau Joie Brut champagne bottle, 1 Remy Martin Fine Champagne cognac XO bottle, 100+ inlaid acrylic diamonds with holographic backs, 7 gold casino-style poker chips, 4 gold playing dice, 3 sets of winning hands (15 24K gold plated playing cards), 27 9mm inert bullets, 1 set of gold handcuffs, 2 cell phones, 3 gold 'bling bling' style watches with faux diamond accents, 1 life-size cast human skull, 1 pair of replica LOCS 9029 sunglasses, 1 flat-brimmed cap, 1 pair of headphones, 4 life-sized replicas of Glock semi-automatic handguns, 1 replica of a Double Eagle MAC-10 submachine gun, 4 mold cast rubber snakes, 2 Prodell DM800 Dynamic microphones, 3 large gold chains, 1 small goblet, 1 replica of a Rolls-Royce Phantom key FOB, and 1 replica of a Bentley key FOB.

The frame is installed with 4 6.5" Polycone mid-range woofers, 2 Sony SS-MSPI tweeters, 1 Sony SS-WS121 Sub-woofer, 1 NobSound Bluetooth 5.0 stereo audio amp, and 1 Daybetter LED waterproof Bluetooth controlled light strip with music-sync and inset with a full resolution 36 by 36 in. archival photo print of the album cover for Da Game Is to be Sold, Not to Be Told by Snoop Dogg, overall dimensions: 54½ by 54½ by 5 in. (138.4 x 138.4 x 12.7 cm.), in excellent condition throughout.


From the early 1990s through the early 2000s, you knew a Pen & Pixel Graphics album cover when you saw it. Based out of Houston, Texas, Pen & Pixel was founded in 1992 by brothers Aaron & Shawn Brauch, who soon established themselves as the go-to choice for southern rap artists.

As the in-house design firm for Birdman's Cash Money Records, Master P's No Limit Records, and Suave House Records, the covers brought to life by Pen & Pixel were filled with the familiar tropes of the 'gangsta' lifestyle—cars, money, women, guns, fire, and most of all, bling.

A contemporary three-dimensional take on the Baroque style of embellishment and over-the-top decoration, the current lot perfectly encapsulates Pen & Pixel's outrageously luxe 'bling' design aesthetic in oversized, hulking form. Painstakingly hand-crafted by Shawn Brauch himself, the frame comes embedded with items layered in 24k gold leaf, with everything from snakes to skulls to poker chips to champagne bottles, surrounding its chosen figure - Snoop Dogg seated on the cover of Da Game is to Be Sold Not to Be Told - like a gilded cage of gangsta excess, trapping its subject and allowing the viewer, scanning the protruding models of guns and bullets to contemplate at what price fame? The work also takes on a literal life of its own, coming equipped with its own sound and three-color lighting systems to customize the viewing experience.

For over a decade, Pen & Pixel's collaborations with the aforementioned record labels—specifically Cash Money and No Limit—yielded dozens of highly charged, over-the-top tableaus which populated the shelves of music stores across the country. Combining the grittier elements of street life with the glamorous excess of wealth and fame, Pen & Pixel pushed the limit of what a rapper's music could look like - let alone sound like - and in turn, birthed a radical aesthetic that reverberates through the visual landscape of Hip Hop to this day. The world of Pen & Pixel was pure fever-dream driven fantasy, with as many diamonds and chains they could fit on an album sleeve and the public voraciously gobbled it up as much as they did the music it advertised. During their highly productive run, Pen & Pixel completed over 19,000 album covers and racked up numerous awards, including a Source Music Award, sixty combined platinum and gold RIAA record plaques, a Compass Award and Q magazine's 10 Great Album Covers in History award.

In addition to Da Game is to Be Sold Not to Be Told, some of Pen & Pixel's most notable covers are those for Master P's MP Da Last Don, Lil' Wayne's Lights Out, Big Tymer$'s How U Luv That, Chris Rock's Bigger & Blacker, and Juvenile's 400 Degreez. Although they have since ceased production, Pen & Pixel's visual legacy lives on among Hip Hop fans who appreciate their surrealist and almost absurdist take on the gangsta lifestyle and the aesthetic their designs have placed firmly in the cultural zeitgeist.

Condition Report:

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