DOLPHLAND POPS UP IN CHICAGO

Rapper T.I. and Allen Parks, Manager of Young Dolph, Skye Creative Director of Dolphland
Pop-Up at the private reception for Dolphland LA. Isaiah Marchand @Rikureels.
Rapper T.I. and Allen Parks, Manager of Young Dolph, Skye Creative Director of Dolphland Pop-Up at the private reception for Dolphland LA. Isaiah Marchand @Rikureels.

 Dolphland Pops Up in Chicago

By Tia Carol Jones
There’s a new Pop-Up Coming to the space that once housed the Woman-Ish immersive experience. The Dolphland Museum is coming to Chicago Friday through Sunday, March 3rd thru. 5th, at 114 S. State St.


Dolphland, a Pop Up Museum is a celebration of the late Rapper Young Dolph’s album, Paper Route Frank, which was released in December 2022. Young Dolph, born Adolph Robert Thornton was born in Chicago and lived in Memphis. He released his first mix tape, Paper Route Campaign, in 2008.


The initial idea for Dolphland came from "Street Execs Management", Paper Route Empire, Young Dolph’s Record Label and Allen Parks, Young Dolph’s manager.  Street Execs and Parks reached out to Marina Skye to serve as creative director and set designer for Dolphland.


Skye, owner of Sets by Skye has made a career out of creating interactive, immersive experiences. Some of the designs she created are TI’s Trap Music Museum, as well as Motel 21 for 21 Savage.  Skye was told the concepts Parks and Street Execs wanted her to include in the experience and it was her responsibility to build on those requests to create an immersive experience surrounding Young Dolph’s life and his music.


“They knew they wanted to showcase certain things about him. They knew they wanted to showcase him being a philanthropic person in his community. They knew they wanted to showcase all of his plaques and rewards and they knew they wanted to showcase him being a businessman and a family man,” she said.


Skye had countless conversations with Parks and Street Execs, from which she created mock-ups of what the rooms would look like and what would be included in those rooms. It was important to  ensuring everything was in chronological order – from the corner store where Young Dolph was selling his mix tapes to the apartment where he was burning the CD’s that he would sell.


Every room in Dolphland is a stepping stone to the next room and shows a part of Young Dolph’s progress throughout his career.   Skye said it is surreal to see Dolphland finished.  “People don’t know the process behind it. They walk through, they see how cool it is, how interactive it is, but people don’t pay attention to the behind the scenes part,” she said.


Skye enjoys seeing people in awe of the work. She walks through the space and people don’t know she’s the one who created it. She gets to observe what the people are interacting with the most. It helps her figure out the experience in each market and how to improve it.

Dolphland has already been in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston and San Antonio. With each new venue, there is a new layout.  Each week, is a totally different experience from the last.

In San Antonio, Skye and her team were in a restaurant and she was wearing a Dolphland hat. A waiter came up to her and told her about his experience with Young Dolph and how it changed his life, not knowing Skye and her team were part of the Dolphland Pop-Up Museum.

“It’s really amazing to see we’re part of a culture; we’re creating a culture. It’s hard for us to think about that when we’re in the mix,” Skye said. “It’s things like that, that remind us we are really doing something far greater than us. We’re doing something to maintain the legacy of a really great man, artist, father and community leader.” Skye wants people who are not die-hard Young Dolph fans, who are getting to know his work, get that he was much more than just an artist.

“He was a Black man from the South, who grew up in the hood and figured out how to overcome his circumstances, to not only make a way for himself, but to make a way for his whole community and family. I think these are elements that are not often highlighted in rap culture, because the media chooses to harp on the negative,” she said.

Skye wants it to be a full circle experience for those who attend the pop-up museum, to learn how much of a well-rounded person Young Dolph was. The project has been well-received and the team is thankful for that. Skye hopes that the audiences continue to come and experience and listen to the album and be fully immersed.

“We, collectively, hope that his fans walk out of this feeling like they have some type of closure,” she said, adding that in doing research the fans weren’t able to pay their respects when Young Dolph was gunned down. “We hope this kind of helps with that, because the more cities we go to, the more we realize he was just so loved by so many, and he affected so many lives, through music alone.”

For more information about Dolphland, visit thedolphlandmuseum.com.

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