Most of my posts on this site are born from a discussion or a discovery that occurs in my daily life. I read two articles that were somewhat disturbing to me last week, and that inspired me to speak on it today! I felt the need to explore this issue a little further, and by doing so I could hopefully find some further understanding for myself? I'll explain more about the disturbing info that I read at the end of this post, but I will start things off by asking you the question that I have been asking myself for years. When does the purchase excessive bling become just another form of wasteful spending?? Black folks in America have held the title for being the greatest consumers over the years, which is not something to be proud of in my personal opinion. According to the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, the word "consumer" is derived from the word "consume," which in some aspects means to spend wastefully. Depending on where you are on the financial ladder of success, being a great consumer may or may not be detrimental to your overall lifestyle? The word "BLING" was supposedly coined by a southern rapper from New Orleans named B.G. on a song actually titled, "Bling Bling" back in 1999. The success of that song started a catch phrase that is still heavily used even in 2006 to express value when describing lavish jewelry mainly, but it can be used for other overpriced items that sparkle real purty as well. The word BLING has even crept its way into mainstream white America. I can't tell you how many times I have been watching some strictly white sitcom or news show and the word bling just pops up out of nowhere? Hmmm?? But, no matter how far the word bling has crossed racial boundaries in this country, the blacks in the hiphop community have taken this over used catch phrase to heart.. literally? Has the word bling become the new terminology for "Keeping up with the Jones?" Sometimes, I wonder......??
Rappers have been wearing gaudy jewelry since the beginning of hiphop music. Remember the excessively large gold rope chains a.k.a Dookie Ropes from back in the 1980's that everyone was sporting? Back in the day these gold chains represented the image of success and pure dopeness! A must have for your "I Wanna Be A Rapper" Kit. The real king of bling back in the 80s in my opinion was The Ruler himself, Slick Rick! That dude would wear about six chains weighing about 5 lbs each? Rick has always been an over the top type of emcee, so wearing that much jewelry was almost expected. In the 90's gold wasn't good enough anymore. In the words of the great OZ (The Wiz version of course)..."Gold is dead, to be a dope rapper you need Platinum instead!" Gold became so worthless in the hiphop community, that folks would literally clown you for wearing it? No mo' gold fronts, gold nugget watches or rings for you playa. Platinum was the new metal of choice, so every rapper with a budget went out and did what they do best. Before you knew it platinum was around everyones neck and wrists? You can't just bling out your watches, chains and rings without platinumizing the grill too. They were quick to remind you that they were wearing platinum babie, none of that flea market silver crap?? Silver?? Who was wearing silver? I know who! The folks that couldn't really afford the platinum prices, but wanted to be just as cool as the folks that could. White gold was another substitute for platinum as well, but who could really tell or cared? In the world of hiphop fashion, if you believe it's real, others will too!
Soon after platinum was on the come up, some genius thought that adding diamonds to the platinum would be just a little bit more exciting for the fans? Maybe even impress a few more video groupies too? First it started with a few tiny diamonds just to give it a little extra sparkle? Then the size of the diamonds got bigger and bigger! Soon katz were wearing a full 5 karats in both ears to match with the diamond necklace, rolex and pinky rings. I originally thought that only women were supposed to sport large diamond earrings? Guess I was wrong? When it comes to hiphop, there are no boundaries! Soon the earrings were the size of quarters, chains hung down past the crotch area and some bracelets almost touched their elbows. Remember, Ghostface's gigantic eagle bracelet? That thing would even put Wonder Woman to shame! Soon after that phase, metal was eliminated from the equation all together. Just diamonds and more diamonds! The saddest part of it all is there is no limit or maximum when it comes to attaining the biggest and most expensive stuff on the market. It's all based on your bank account.
Even Stevie Wonder saw this coming? You know the scenario where everyone else makes money off of the black consumers, except the black folks themselves. Jacob Arabo a.k.a Jacob The Jeweler used the passion that rappers had for jewelry, and created a million dollar opportunity for himself. As the rapper's jewelry desires were getting more extravigant by the day, Jacob started soliciting well known rappers with personally designed jewelry. He could create one of kind jewelry masterpieces for the established and up & coming rappers that wanted the bling for affordable prices, and if you couldn't afford to buy he'd rent it to you. How wonderful is that? A rap jewelry Rent-A-Center. Now, that's dope? All the bling for a quarter of the price. Well, wealthy actors and singers have been renting expensive pieces of jewelry to wear at the red carpet events for years, so Jacob felt that the rappers should have the same opportunity. Needless to say it worked. Not only did it put money in Jacob's pockets, but it also made him a hood celebrity as well. After awhile, rappers were proud to say that they got their jewelry from Jacob, so they'd shout him out whenever they could on a record. Jacob pushed the envelope on hood jewelry design too. He understood that rappers wanted unique, but innovative jewelry pieces. As far as I know, Jacob's signature watches were the first time pieces to incorporate colored diamonds in the face. Suddenly, the demand for colored diamonds was enormous! For the big spenders, white diamonds wasn't flashy enough? Who would have ever imagined that? Look at Pharrell's personalized chain (shown in the photo on the left) reppin' the Neptunes, looking like a bowl of Fruity Pebbles around his neck. That necklace is crazy! Jacob's success over the years has encouraged many other self-proclaimed jewelers to follow in his footsteps. Even some rappers like 50 Cent and Lil' Flip have started their own jewelry lines to get into the bling-bling business. I don't blame them. The truth is nobody can rap forever, so get in where you fit in!
It's not just about chains and rings anymore. Grillz have really taken off in hiphop over the last few years as well. There was a little debate about who the first rapper was to sport a grill in his mouth? Damn, does it really matter? Hell yeah it does! Being the originator of anything in hiphop gives you braggin' rights for life, which some feel is more important than the musical success itself. Everybody wants to be first, right! Just to ease your weary minds, Big Gipp of the Goodie Mob is the self-proclaimed FIRST kat to sport the gold grill teefess? Does one or two gold teeth count as a grill? If so, my grandpa had a grill back in 1975!! In 2006, them Texas boyz like Mike Jones (WHO?) and Paul Wall sport the diamond grillz. Hell, Paul Wall even makes good money designing and selling grillz on the side. Personally, I can't get into the whole grill phenomenom? Too much slob and drooling for my taste, but do ya thang playaz! Too much damn smiling too! Close ya mouf Mike!! Nelly had the blue diamonds in his grill for his last music video, so what's next? Maybe, they'll put diamonds on their tongues to match the ones on their teeth?? That's a joke...I HOPE! Oh yeah, the Number 1 Stunna (Baby) of the Cash Money Millionaires just upped the value of his grill to $500,000! His grill can't be removed either. I guess he's got an image to uphold, while some folks can't even afford to eat food on a daily basis! I hope this kat has a great saving and investment plan?? Being broke with $500,000 in your mouth stinks!
On a side note, did you know that somebody thought of the bright idea of putting real diamonds on car rims costing approximately $250,000? What a genius idea!?They are killing kids over chrome rims, so what will they do for a set of diamond rims? FYI...The biggest rim on the market is 30 inches. That's not a rim, that's a wagon wheel! Thanks Master P!! Where would the car rim business be without his personal input? Isn't he the guy with the solid gold ceiling the master bedroom of his house? How creative is that?
Okay, onto the reason why I did this post in the first place. It really urks me to repeat this, but I feel it's my civil duty. When I think of pure financial waste, this is at the top of my list! For those that don't already know, Diddy a.k.a Puff Daddy had his 11 MILLION dollar necklace and diamond encrusted cross stolen while he was on the Spanish island of Ibiza. I have two quick questions for anyone that can answer them. The first is, why in the hell would a person spend 11 million dollars on a piece of jewelry?? Secondly, if you are stupid enough to spend that kind of money on jewelry, why would you just leave laying around so it could get stolen? Dammit, man!!
I got a simple observation for you rap fans before I wrap this thang up! I have noticed over the years except for maybe Slick Rick & Ghostface, the rappers with the most extravagant bling in the game are some of the wackest rappers overall? Is that just a coincedence? Maybe, the excessive bling is to cover up the lack of talent? You be the judge. Pay attention to these videos and watch who's rockin' the most bling, and I bet you it's one of the wack rappers pretending to be an emcee...? Okay folks, I am officially bling-blinged out for real now!!