While the women of the mid 80’s were busy popularizing Doorknocker earrings, male hip hop stars asserted their individuality with large gold rope or dookey chains.
In rap’s nascent years it was important for stars to stand out in over the top ways, and wearing large jewelry, aside from glimmering in the light, was a sign of prestige and wealth. As Mr Cee, a long time friend of notorious rapper Big Daddy Kane, said in the book “Bling Bling” by Minya Oh, “…It [was] all about presence. When you look at hip hop artists, whether it’s the clothes that they wear, the sneakers that they wear, the hats that they wear – it’s all about the “wow!” effect. It’s all about getting people to look at you two and three and four times. And when it comes to clothes, or jewelry, or anything that will get attention, they will use that to their advantage.”
Pioneer rapper Kurtis Blow kicked off the ‘chain’ trend, rocking several gold necklaces at once…
…And Adidas sporting group Run D.M.C. took the look to the next level by wearing weighty, thick necklaces that resembled rope:
These days rappers have bypassed gold in favor of platinum, diamonds, and huge medallions:
As Cheryl “Salt” James of Salt-N-Pepa said in “Bling Bling”, “For generations Black people were economically disadvantaged. So bling [was] a way for us to say, “We’re making it too!” It makes you feel good about yourself. Those shackles are platinum now. Those shackles are now diamonds around your wrist. Our music and fashions came from the streets. We did it on our own. And bling emphasizes that. “
It looks like this trend is here to stay!
Read more about ‘bling’ and hip hop jewelry in Minya Oh’s book here: