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April 28, 2022
The association between hip-hop and diamonds dates back to the late 1980s, long before hip-hop became the worldwide phenomenon it is today. The pattern continues to this day, 40 years later. Hip-hop culture has virtually become associated with diamond bling with many musicians requesting crazy diamond jewelry items solely to stand out -- from iced-out grills to one-kilogram Cuban link chains. In the hip-hop culture, no notion is too extravagant or off-limits when it comes to diamonds and bespoke pieces.
While the look and cost of jewelry have evolved dramatically throughout time and will continue to do so, the motive for wearing bling has always been the same: power. This power symbol became a component of a cultural revolution. Hip-hop jewelry has a long history, but it has always represented excellence and status. While this is still true in today's world, trends and fashions have altered. Let's take a look at the history of hip-hop jewelry, from its beginnings to the present day.
- History of Jewelry :
There's a reason why engagement rings cost so much. While they are signs of love, they are also significant status symbols. Being able to demonstrate a brand new set of ice to everyone around you has a certain luxury to it.
This has been the situation for a lot longer than you may believe because the jewelry was used as a fashion item since the dawn of civilization. African king Mansa Musa, who governed most of Western Africa in the 1300s, is perhaps one of the most famous instances. Mansa Musa is represented wielding gold scepters, sitting on actual gold seats, sipping from gold cups, and more in a variety of artworks. He is the wealthiest individual in history, with estimates estimating his net worth to be approximately $400 billion today.
Gold has now become a synonym for riches, prestige, and elegance. To demonstrate their authority and influence over the population, kings and queens would adorn golden necklaces, bracelets, and crowns. Noblemen and clerics would join in the fun as well. Even though jewelry is more accessible than ever before, it still has the potential to transmit power. This is a common motif in hip-hop jewelry.
- Origins of Hip-Hop Jewelry :
Both politically and culturally, the 1970s were a decade of transition. The disco period paved the way for the birth of a new musical genre: hip-hop. DJ Kool Herc is credited with introducing this musical revolution. In his Bronx apartment building, he'd hold block parties that drew a lot of attention. During instrumental gaps in the recordings he was spinning, he noted that the crowd's excitement swelled. As a result, he began blending the sounds of two songs at the same time to create a "breakbeat," which is still the foundation of hip-hop music today.
Herc, on the other hand, wore a classic made of gold rope chain that helped him stand out. It's difficult to say whether this was a conscious decision or if he was attempting to conjure the soul of Mansa Musa himself. Nevertheless, his look became popular.
As musicians began to explore Herc's sound, they frequently attempted to imitate his own approach. Golden chains were popular among fellow artists as statement pieces. Furthermore, guests at Herc's events began to imitate his look, allowing the chain to extend into more modern fashion. Therefore, hip-hop began to diverge from disco and develop its own distinct sound. Biggie Smalls, LL Cool J, and Jay-Z were some of the artists who helped shape the genre as it progressed through the years. While their voices differed, one thing held them all together: the golden chain.
- Early Styles of Hip-Hop Jewelry :
If you check at the album covers of any hip-hop artist from the 1980s to the early 2000s, you'll notice that there's a lot of gold. There was never a shortage of brassy brightness, from bracelets to chains to rings and watches.
Most of these compositions were a little more muted in the days after DJ Kool Herc's claim to fame. Small, finer chains appeared to indicate that all these artists had power but were hesitant to display it. This is most likely due to the fact that the style had yet to gain traction, and hence trust in the craft was low. They were afraid to demonstrate their power. Hip-hop performers gained a new feeling of pride as the music became more popular, with higher budgets, record deals, and bolder lyrics. Bulkier parts came as a result of this. Chains became thicker, and artists began to wear many necklaces at once.
- Hip-Hop Styles Today :
While the gold chain is still not out of style, several new designs appear to be gaining traction. Jewelry was a method to express personal influence and power throughout the early days of hip-hop.
Many of today's top hip-hop musicians, on the other hand, are fiercely competitive. Consider some of the most recent names on the list, such as DJ Khaled, DaBaby, and Lil Uzi. They all appear to be attempting to compete with each other at all times, outdoing one another with the most costly things. Kanye West and Snoop Dogg, both long-time constants, wear custom-made Grillz, Cuban link chains, and diamond rings. Being brave and sticking out is the key draw in today's rap world.
Hip-hop pendants are frequently constructed of solid gold, encrusted with precious diamonds, and enlarging to absurd proportions. They're suspended on diamond necklaces that cost almost as much as the medals themselves. Furthermore, advances in jewelry customization have enabled artists to add their own personal touch to their favorite items, even if classic symbols like diamond cross pendants and ankhs remain popular.
Even classical tennis chains and bracelets may be personalized with alternative stone cuts, such as baguette or princess-cut diamonds in place of round-cut diamonds. Personalization was difficult to come by in the early days of rap, but it is now a standard. Custom necklaces and chains are proof of achievement, specifically when they have catchy designs made by the artists.
In recent years as well, several gold finishes have grown considerably more prevalent. While conventional yellow gold retains its elegance, fashionable varieties such as white gold and rose gold have progressively increased in prominence, allowing rappers to stand out even more from the crowd. Despite the movement in fashion, the purpose for wearing iced-out jewelry remains the same. Rappers strive to demonstrate their dominance over their peers as well as society. This is particularly true when it comes to female rappers.
- The Future of Hip-Hop Jewelry :
Because current rappers are so focused on being unique, jewelry styles can be tough to predict. Even the most recognized jewelers could never have guessed that Lil Uzi's forehead would be adorned with a $24 million diamond.
This unpredictability, though, is thrilling. Hip-hop's style essence will change as the genre's sound changes. Chains may get increasingly thicker, pendants may become even wilder, and artists may begin to discover new methods to physically display their money.
What the jewelry signifies is one thing that is sure to remain constant. Pieces of jewelry have inspired a sense of power and influence since the days of Mansa Musa and up until now. Rappers will constantly be seeking to broaden their societal effect as they continue to experiment with new trends.
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