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All about bling-bling jewellery

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BLING-BLING JEWELLERY


Bling-bling jewellery

Bling (or bling-bling) is a slang term popularized in hip hop culture, referring to flashy, ostentatious, or elaborate jewellery and ornamented accessories that are carried, worn, or installed, such as cell phones or tooth caps.

ORIGINS AND POPULARIZATION OF THE TERM

In linguistics terms, bling is either an ideophone or an onomatopoeia, depending on the definition adhered to. Intended to evoke the "sound" of light hitting something shiny, especially valuables like silver, platinum, or diamonds. The form bling-bling is a case of reduplication.


The use of the phrase became popular, as seen in the skywriting advertisement over this New York summer resort destination of Southampton in 2006

During the mid- to late 1960s, toothpaste maker Ultra Brite ran a series of commercials stating, "Ultrabrite gives your mouth...[ping]...sex appeal!" Before the words "sex appeal", a bell sound was heard as a young man or woman smiled. Comedians such as Martin Lawrence parodied the "Ultrabrite smile" by vocalizing the sound effect as both "bling-bling," and "bling-blauw."

The term was used in this way to describe a gaudy piece of jewellery, for example the otherwise rotten gold-toothed smile and stereotypical pimp jewellery of the character "Jerome" on the television series Martin. Jesse West (known as rapper 3rd Eye) is cited as perhaps the first rapper to use the complete term "bling bling" on Super Cat's 1993 hit "Dolly My Baby (Remix)" - a song that West produced, and also featured Puff Daddy and a young Biggie Smalls in his record debut. In 1994, the Netscape Navigator browser was released and supported the <blink>blink tag</blink>. This feature became very widely used, which many users considered to be irritating, and the term blink soon became synonymous with gaudy, tacky and overly flashy. That meaning of the word 'blink' remained in popular culture (although modern browsers stopped supporting the 'blink' tag).

The term 'bling' reached mainstream popularity in 1999 when the song "Bling Bling" by rap artist B.G. featuring the Cash Money Millionaires cracked the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100; the chorus of the song featured a young Lil' Wayne rapping "Everytime I come around your city bling bling; Pinky ring worth about 50 bling bling; Everytime I buy a new ride bling bling; Lorenzos on Yokahama tires bling bling." Late rapper Tupac mentioned bling in the song called "Fuck Friendz" of his posthumous album Until the End of Time. He goes by saying "Check out my - diamonds bitch everyone gonna blink (bling bling bling)". The song was recorded in 1996.

Mass usage
While the specific term bling was first popularized in the hip hop community, it has spread beyond hip hop culture and into mass culture after the original Hot Boyz chart-topper "Bling-bling" became popular. This is similar to the meteoric rise of hip hop music itself, which has led to its most popular artists becoming mainstream pop music icons. "Bling" was added to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in 2002 and to the Merriam Webster dictionary in 2006. Companies such as Sprint and Cadillac have used the word bling in their advertisements. During a 2008 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade in Jacksonville, Florida, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney admired a baby decked in dress attire with gold jewellery and said, "Oh, you've got some bling-bling here."

In 2004, MTV released 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. It ended with the statement, "RIP bling-bling 1997-2003." In 2005, the rapper B.G. remarked that he "just wished that he'd trademarked it" so that he could have profited. 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 Joe stated, "rappers don't call jewellery 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 reggaeton from Puerto Rico and 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 traditionally to describe nouveau riche attitudes; such as "wearing expensive suits, stylish sunglasses and conspicuously large wristwatches" or anything that is ostentatious and can be considered of "poor taste".

CRITICISM

The short film Bling: Consequences and Repercussions, shot by Kareem Adouard and narrated by Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, explains how diamonds (a staple of bling fashion) occasionally originate as blood diamonds, fuelling wars, poverty, slavery, and killings in Africa.

Bling: A Planet Rock (2007) documents the flashy world of commercial hip-hop jewellery 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 Reggaetón king Tego Calderón as they visit the capital of Freetown to meet the community and survey the devastation caused by the diamond mines.

Before, during, and after Apartheid, South Africans have been exploited for their land's precious gems and metals. 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." Kwaito continues to show the conspicuous consumption that originated in Black American Hip Hop, despite its relations to blood diamonds.

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