50 Years of Hip Hop – Celebrating the Culture

50 Years of Hip Hop – Celebrating the Culture

50 Years of Hip Hop – Celebrating the Culture

NEW YORK - AUGUST 30: Hip-hop artists Pharrell Williams and Kanye West arrive at the Pharrell Williams & Absolut Ruby Red Pre-VMA Bash at Chinatown Brasserie August 30, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

Bling has been an integral part of hip-hop culture essentially from day one, and it’s made for some iconic jewelry pieces across history.

It represents not only wealth and success, but it’s also a way for artists to express their individuality. It’s a reflection of their journey, often hard-earned and always a testament to their determination. Hip-hop songs often reference chains and jewelry, showcasing the artists’ success, wealth, and individual style.

In Jay-Z’s “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”, he references his affinity for gold chains with the line, “Not guilty, y’all got to feel me, I bought my whole team whips, no Volvos, and had the chain flooded wit’ rocks.” In “A Milli” Lil Wayne boasts about his diamonds, rapping, “I’m a Millionaire, I’m a Young Money Millie in aire, tougher than Nigerian hair.” And in “No Stylist”, French Montana and Drake proudly declare their love for designer brands and expensive jewelry with lines like, “Hermès link could feed a village in Liberia” and “Iced out, no stylist.” These references not only add to the braggadocious nature of hip-hop but also highlight the importance of jewelry in the culture. It’s not just about showing off wealth, but also making a statement and showcasing one’s unique style.

The tradition of wearing flashy jewelry in hip-hop began with pioneers like Run DMC and their iconic gold rope chains. Over time, it has evolved to include more elaborate and intricate pieces, often custom-made for the artists. Jewelry has become a way for hip-hop artists to differentiate themselves and stand out in a crowded industry. It’s also become a symbol of success, with many rappers investing their wealth in custom-made pieces that showcase their individuality and success.

Here’s a list of 9 of the most iconic and extravagant pieces of jewelry worn by hip-hop artists.

  • Ghostface Killah's Eagle Bracelet

    This Wu-Tang Clan member’s golden eagle bracelet, complete with diamond-encrusted wings, is one of the most unforgettable pieces in hip hop history.

  • Lil Jon's Crunk Ain’t Dead Necklace

    Weighing almost 12 pounds, this chain contains a record-breaking 3,756 diamonds. It was so massive, it actually set a World Record!

  • Pharrell's Custom Jacob & Co. Necklace

    This piece, encrusted with multicolored diamonds, is a testament to Pharrell’s unique sense of style.

  • Beyoncé's necklace in the Carters Tiffany's campaign

    The necklace was worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and worth $30 million. To think she actually got paid to wear it, is the biggest flex.

  • Jay-Z's 5 kilo gold chain

    Jay-Z’s colossal gold chain, designed by Rafaello & Co, is a shining testament to his success.

  • Rick Ross's Self Portrait Chain

    This piece, a diamond-studded self-portrait, is one of the most unique pieces in hip hop jewelry.

  • Gucci Mane's Ice Cream Cone Chain

    This iconic piece, complete with multi-colored diamonds, symbolizes Gucci Mane’s flavor and style.

  • Missy Elliott's Turntable Chain

    Missy Elliott’s gold and diamond turntable necklace is a nod to her deep roots in music.

    Missy Elliott celebrated her 52nd birthday during Essence Festival with a star-studded soiree sponsored by Crown Royal Golden Apple

    Missy Elliott celebrated her 52nd birthday during Essence Festival with a star-studded soiree sponsored by Crown Royal Golden Apple

  • Kanye West's Horus Chain

    Designed by Jacob Arabo, this gold and diamond chain is inspired by the Egyptian god Horus, symbolizing protection and power.

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