Bling: How Hip Hop Birthed The Idea Of ‘Bling’

i-Dentity is back. Welcome to Series Two.

In Series One, we covered the genesis of hip-hop style. But what about the bling? From the streets of hip-hop’s major cities to the lyrics and covers of its greatest albums, we trace the story of the genre’s love affair with jewellery. But Cuban chains and diamond grills didn’t just add to the look of hip-hop, its movers and shakers actively crafted the look and feel of jewels we see today. As we’ve seen in hip-hop fashion, the jewellery worn by rappers past and present is oft-criticised for its OTT opulence, but, like the story of the music itself, hip-hop’s drip tells its own tale of identity, social mobility and representation, filtered through its diamonds, platinum and gold.

Osman Ahmed, Fashion Features Director of i-D speaks to Vikki Tobak, author of Ice Cold. A Hip-Hop Jewelry History, about hip-hop jewellery’s roots and cultural influence, as well as its rise to the top from the streets of America’s hip-hop hotbeds. Lyle Lindgren, filmmaker and co-author of the book Mouth Full of Golds recounts the origins of the ultimate hip-hop statement piece – grills – while Gabby Pinhasov and his son Elan, grill-craftsmen to the likes of Pharrell, Marc Jacobs, A$AP Rocky and Kim Kardashian, take us back to the early 90s in New York City, where Gabby first began his trade.


Host: Osman Ahmed

Scripting: Osman Ahmed, Eilidh Duffy, Amelia Phillips

Research: Niloufar Haidari

Research Assistance: Alexia Marmara

Art Direction: Calum Glenday and Aleksandra Talacha

Producer: Amelia Phillips

Audio Producer: Robin Leeburn

Production: Podmasters

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