Once again hip-hop jargon has managed to seep its way into the mainstream vocabulary. Along with words like “phat” and “dope,” “bling-bling” can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary. Bling-bling refers to outlandish, flashy jewelry that screams, “Look at me!” According to the Urban Dictionary, bling-bling refers to the imaginary “sound” that is produced from light reflected by a diamond. Bling is usually found wrapped around the wrists and necks of hip-hop artists and other celebrities. The Cash Money Millionaires, a hip-hop family from New Orleans, are credited with coining the term.
Bling symbolizes success and status. Once you hang a chunk around your neck, it signifies a rite of passage. It means you’ve arrived, and you are desperate to let everyone know just how much your hard work has paid off. Why do you think a lot of rappers are constantly holding up their chain or medallion, which may or may not spin? Every other rap song is harping about platinum rings and icy wrists. Mentioning bling in lyrics has become painfully trite and outright cliche. Besides, this behavior perpetuates the stereotype that young people don’t spend their money wisely.
The infamous Slick Rick was one of the first rappers to adorn himself with a thick rope chain and an iced-out eye patch. And who can forget Mr. T’s mountainous layers of neckwear that nearly swallowed his head? Nowadays the art of flaunting your finery has reached a new level. The ultimate showcase of bling-bling can be found between the lips of rappers like Trick Daddy, Paul Wall and Lil’ Wayne, all of whom have chosen to get permanent platinum and/or gold fronts on their teeth. I hate to be the one to spill the beans: It’s been reported that guys with perms (permanent fronts covering teeth) are usually accompanied by a bad case of bad breath. In this case, additional forms of bling must be used to attract those who might otherwise be offended. Consider this a warning for people seeking the lifetime luxury.
Everyone in the business of bling knows that it doesn’t get much better than Jacob Arabos, or “Jacob the Jeweler,” for customized diamond creations. His creations have adorned everyone from Jay-Z to Michael Jordan. Numerous rappers have uttered his name in their lyrics.
Countless celebrities dazzle audiences with their pricey platinum and blinging baguettes. But is this grand showcase really worth it, and what does it say to the impressionable public? Surely the rich and famous can afford to splurge on useless ornaments. This seems harmless until you consider the rest of America. Youngsters could get the impression that obtaining flashy jewelry and other luxury items is a priority in life. It perpetuates the idea that spending money on glamorous objects rather than investing in a sound future is an appropriate long-term goal. This could be deemed consumerism and materialism at its peak.
While pop culture continues to be blinded by the bling, serious issues like poverty and hunger get slept on. Our obsession with pretty objects has risen to a level of absurdity. The sole purpose of bling is strictly aesthetic. In our culture, image seems to triumph over reality with little resistance. Unfortunately, this will continue until we wake up and stop riding a wave of hype.