On the floor, the music video for “Bling Bling” could really feel like a forgettable bit from a bygone period. Status symbols colour the NOLA surroundings of Rigolet’s Marina: producer Mannie Fresh exits a helicopter carrying a hefty briefcase of money; scantily-clad ladies clamor to draw digicam time; and a convoy of luxurious autos coast over the canal. Yet beneath the large finances visuals and costly toys lies an illustrious entry within the Cash Money archive, one that might grow to be a defining second in rap folklore. The all-pervading 1999 radio hit was greater than only a assertion; it retooled the conspicuous consumption of the style via a slang catchphrase that embodied preposterous stunting and simple virality.
For a track that was formally credited to rapper B.G., “Bling Bling” stands as an overarching, if abused, touchstone reference of 2000s hip hop. It’s a significant chapter in understanding Lil Wayne, the term’s creator and a once-in-a-generation expertise from the Ninth Ward Projects who sculpted the parameters of recent rap superstardom. Following within the footsteps of Cash Money Records founders Bryan “Birdman” and Ronald “Slim” Williams, Weezy and his fellow Hot Boys (Juvenile, B.G., and Turk) transcended their preliminary regional success and grew into larger-than-life movers and shakers of popular culture. Augmented by the polished Photoshop work of the Pen & Pixel dynasty, the elite Cash Money Millionaires posse turned a drive to be reckoned with, churning out a seemingly countless movement of fabric with ease. “I stated, ‘We gotta do it larger than all people,’” The Fader.
“Bling Bling” was an ostentatious “They Did That moment.” What began as a conversational adlib snowballed right into a genius high-water mark that culminated in an Oxford (2003) and Merriam Webster’s (2006) dictionary addition. “That track blew up. I imply they named the entire period off that: the Bling Era,” said former BET Rap City host Big Tigger. In the wake of the deaths of Biggie and Tupac, two of the style’s most self-serious emcees, the game-changing Bling Era diverted consideration and provided a much-needed distraction from the tragedies of 9/11 and the next Iraq War. The ghetto-fabulous and hard-edged sophistication that had characterised the early to mid ‘90s light into nonexistence, with juggernauts like Jay-Z (“Big Pimpin’”) and Puff Daddy (“All About the Benjamins”) providing early inklings of what was to return. Style and high quality had been rapidly swallowed up within the attract of dimension and carats, and opulence for the sake of opulence emerged as the brand new identify of the sport.
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Although jewellery and indulgent shows have lengthy been a staple of hip hop’s weight loss program, “Bling Bling” gifted the American lexicon a revolutionary descriptor that even the legendary Slick Rick would have envied. The style’s new clientele had been keen to purchase into the reckless indulgence and vigorous, one-dimensional machismo, so it’s no shock that the novel vocabulary magnified the swathe of superficial content material that was copy-pasted at will. Flooded Figaros, video vixens, and brazen cash boasts got here to outline a brand new millennia that craved visually-stunning leisure above all else.
Still, the outsized and bedazzled equipment had been dwarfed by the characters that donned them. Soulja Boy, one of many early architects of the viral music second, had all of the accoutrements: comically-oversized necklaces had been complemented by gaudy baggage, headware, and clothes. He introduced his “Pretty Boy Swag” to life with a flagship “The World is Yours” piece, and at one level claimed to have spent over $three million on jewellery. The boisterous Lil Jon paraded round with a blinding “pimp chalice” and customized “Crunk Ain’t Dead” chain that might’ve been utilized by the mafia as a deadweight for physique disposal. The three,756 real round-cut white diamond piece, which weighed a whopping 5 kilos and stood practically eight inches tall, was price a grand complete of $500,000 and was topped by Guinness because the “largest diamond pendant” on the planet. Houston’s Paul Wall, who sported trendsetting saggy garments and a shimmering mouthful of dental work, helped popularize the mouth-watering imagery of spinning rims on candy-painted Cadillacs. Nelly, the king of pop rap on the time, bequeathed a priceless contribution to the Bling Era with “Grillz” that includes the aforementioned “People’s Champ,” Ali & Gipp, and famend grill craftsman Johnny Dang. It was an immediate success that impressed center schoolers in all places to copy the titular accent utilizing tin foil.
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“Bling Bling” additionally showcased the rising energy of the music video as a way of glorifying the spoils of fame and fortune. T.I., the self-described King of the South, took it to the automotive scene on “24’s,” a track that re-upped the “cash, hoes, vehicles and garments” motif and made an anthem of it. “I put Lamborghini doorways on that Escalade” graduated from an imaginative 50 Cent one-liner on The Game’s “How We Do” to a Bling Era calling card. And Swishahouse’s “Still Tippin’,” that includes Mike Jones, Slim Thug, and Paul Wall, constructed on the Cash Money blueprint to create a deep-fried basic. Even the NBA took notice. Although the wedding between basketball and hip hop has been extensively catalogued, the Bling Era was undoubtedly the honeymoon period. It reached its zenith with the And1 mixtapes and Allen Iverson, a participant whose uncompromising perspective and trademark ensemble pressured the league to create an in depth costume code in response.
The unusual, meandering path of the “Bling Bling” aesthetic will be traced from the phases of rap exhibits, to skilled athletes, to highschool locker rooms, all the way in which all the way down to white suburban soccer mothers, as satirically illustrated by a 2004 animated MTV spot that ended with the assertion “RIP bling-bling 1997-2003.” It catapulted to mainstream reputation in gorgeous vogue, however sputtered out as a radical and unstable pattern as a result of deteriorating socioeconomic situations and growing political consciousness. The extended financial correction course ran parallel to the renewed want for creativity and innovation. Even Mannie Fresh admitted as a lot in a 2003 interview with Vibe: “the bling-bling period wasn’t the ‘message-important’ period.”
Though the lyrical composition wasn’t all that formidable, the Bling Era’s 15 minutes of fame was an indelible juncture for the billion greenback hip hop trade. Substance took a again seat to gaudy extra that was loud and just about not possible to disregard. The hip hop memorabilia that materialized on account of Cash Money’s pioneering ingenuity got here to operate not solely as technique of flaunting wealth, but additionally showcasing rap allegiances and label loyalties. Multiplatinum cliques like Cam’ron’s The Diplomats, Gucci Mane’s 1017 Bricksquad, and Master P’s No Limit Records helped put a thriving subculture on the map by mixing flashy existence with the streets. The blatant and outrageous materialism that stemmed from “Bling Bling” ultimately grew stale, however it efficiently catered to an viewers that yearned for an escape, and proved the cheeky endurance of Shirley Bassey’s declare: “diamonds are perpetually.”