"Bling-bling" (or simply "bling") is a
slangterm in hip hopculture referring to flashy or elaborate jewelryand ornamented accessories that are carried, worn, or installed, such as cell phones or tooth caps.
Origins and popularization of the term
In linguistic terms, "bling" is an
ideophone(a sound intended to evoke an idea) – it is not onomatopoeia, because the act of jewelry shining does not make a sound. The form "bling-bling" is a case of reduplication. The origins of the term are disputed and claimed by various artists.
Coinage of the term "bling", which came into use in the late 1990s, is often attributed to
rapartists B.G. and Cash Money Millionaires. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/3192258.stm How bling became king] , Jonathan Duffy, BBC News, October 15, 2003.] It was used in a song title by Cash Money Recordsrapper B.G., and in 1998 by fellow Cash Money artist Lil Wayneon the track "Millionaire Dream". ("I got ten around my neck, and baguettes on my wrist, Bling!"), which appeared on the Big Tymersalbum "How Ya Luv That". "Bling Bling", a track from the 1999 B.G. album "Chopper City in the Ghetto", further popularized the term. On Outkast's song " Hollywood Divorce", [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_Divorce] Lil Waynestates, "Bling bling, I know and did you know I'm the creator of the term." On the song "Money Ain't a Thang" by Jermaine Dupri, Dupri uses the term "gleam gleam" in a simlar fashion as "bling bling". [http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/jermaineduprijd/moneyaintathang.html]
Though B.G. and other hip hop artists are often given credit for creating the term, television commercials for dental products and chewing gum as early as the 1970s accentuated the cleanliness of teeth with a "bling" or "pling" sound, accompanied by an imaginary starburst or ray of light emanating from an actor's mouth. During the early 1980s, toothpaste maker
Ultra Briteran a series of commercials stating, "Ultrabrite gives your mouth... [pling] ...sex appeal!" Before the words "sex appeal", a bell sound was heard as a young man smiled while kisses were blown at him. [ [http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:iRfq_DWYnzMJ:chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i22/22a04001.htm+ultrabrite+%22sex+appeal%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=18&gl=us A Brush With History] , Goldie Blumenstyk, The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 6, 2004. [Google cached retrieved on July 12, 2007] ] During the 1980s and early 1990s, comedians such as Martin Lawrenceparodied the "Ultrabrite smile" by vocalizing the sound effect as "bling". The term was used in this way to describe a gaudy piece of jewelry, for example the otherwise rotten gold-toothed smile and stereotypical pimp jewelry of the character "Jerome" on the television series "Martin".
While the specific term "bling" was first popularized in the hip hop community, it has spread beyond
hip hop cultureand into mass culture. It was added to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionaryin 2002 and to the Merriam Websterdictionary in 2006. Companies such as Sprint and Cadillac have used the word "bling" in their advertisements. During a 2008 Martin Luther King, Jr. Dayparade in Jacksonville, Florida, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romneyadmired a baby decked in dress attire with gold jewelry and said, "Oh, you've got some bling-bling here." [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/us/politics/22romney.html?_r=2&ref=todayspaper&oref=slogin&oref=slogin Romney Waxes Lyrical at a Holiday Parade in Florida] , Michael Powell, " The New York Times", January 22, 2008.] In 2004, MTVreleased a satirical cartoon showing the term being used first by a rapper and then by several progressively less "streetwise" characters, concluding with a middle-aged white woman describing her earrings to her elderly mother.Fact|date=April 2007 It ended with the statement, "RIP bling-bling 1997-2004." In 2005, the rapper B.G. remarked that he "just wished that he'd trademarked it" [cite news | url=http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,,1383653,00.html | title=How bling-bling took over the ring | publisher= The Guardian| date= 2005-01-09| accessdate=2007-03-27] so that he could have profited from its use.
Like many cases of once-exclusive vernacular that becomes mainstream, the views of the originators towards the term have changed significantly over the years. On
VH1's "Why You Love Hip-Hop", rapper Fat Joestated, "rappers don't call jewelry 'bling' anymore, we just call em 'diamonds'."
In other languages
The term has also spread to Spanish: rappers use the term in Latin hip-hop and in
reggaetonfrom Puerto Ricoand Panama, although it is usually written and pronounced "blin-blin". The Spanish word "blinblineo" is also used to refer to bling-bling style.
The term is used in French to describe
nouveau richeattitudes; such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy"wearing expensive suits, stylish sunglasses and conspicuously large wristwatches". [cite news | url=http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1697098,00.html | title=Sarkozy's 'Bling-Bling' Presidency | publisher= Time Magazine| date= 2007-12-20| accessdate=2008-01-21]
The short film "", shot by
Kareem Adouardand narrated by Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, explains how diamonds (a staple of bling fashion) occasionally originate as conflict diamonds, fueling wars, poverty, and killings in Africa. [ [http://wghfilms.com/bling.htm Bling: Consequences and Repercussions, short film narrated by Public Enemy Chuck D on Conflict Diamonds and Bling fashion] ]
"" (2007) documents the flashy world of commercial hip-hop jewelry against the significant role diamonds play in the ten-year civil war in
Sierra Leone, West Africa. The movie follows three hip-hop celebrities: Raekwon(Wu-Tang Clan), Paul Wall(maker of diamond grills), and Reggaetónking Tego Calderónas they visit the capital of Freetownto meet the community and survey the devastation caused by the diamond mines.
Several hip hop insiders, such as the members of Public Enemy and the Puerto Rican reggaeton star Tego Calderon, have made the deliberate choice not to don expensive jewelry as a statement against bling culture.Keyes, p. 172.] Missy Elliott stated in the aforementioned interview that hip hop artists should act as
role models in this respect and encourage young people to invest responsibly and sensibly in stable, long-term assets.Fact|date=October 2007
Even more controversial is the value of bling bling in South African hip hop (
kwaito) aesthetics. Pre-, during, and post- apartheid, black South Africans have long been exploited for their land's precious metal (" blood diamonds" [ [http://www.un.org/peace/africa/Diamond.html Conflict diamonds ] ] ). Gavin Steingo has stated, "It truly is tragic that many young South Africans have embraced the Western gold fetish: a fetish which prizes gold as nothing more than a label of ostentatious wealth." [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2822/is_3_28/ai_n15648564/pg_20/] Conspicuous consumption effect of Black American Hip Hop remains present in kwaito despite its relations to blood diamonds.
Hip hop fashion
List of most frequently mentioned brands in the Billboard Top 20
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Look at other dictionaries:
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