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Thursday, September 24, 2009

BLING THEORY ( or the Bling Blog I really couldnt decide)

Ok, I think we all know by now what it means when someone refers to "bling"... but just in case here are some visual (above) and textual aids for your understanding....

As defined by the "Urban Dictionary"

bling 1341 up, 269 down love it hate it

Jamaican slang that has been adopted by some African American rappers and inserted into popular culture. The term "Bling Bling" refers to the imaginary "sound" that is produced from light reflected by a diamond. See The Silvertones "Bling Bling Christmas" for the earliest known usage of the slang.
This "bling bling" shit has been done to death.

As defined by Websters dictionary
  • Main Entry: blingbling
  • Pronunciation: \ˈbliŋ-ˌbliŋ\
  • Variant(s): also bling \ˈbliŋ\
  • Function: noun
  • Etymology: imitative
  • Date: 1999

: flashy jewelry worn especially as an indication of wealth; broadly : expensive and ostentatious possessions

Alright so I can think of bling, in its current definition, going back at least to George Clinton and thats just in my memory. Im sure there are others that I am not aware of, or at least that are not on the tip of my memory's tongue. Oh wait whats his name... the guy that plays in Groove is in the Heart? Its a funny name, Sloopy, Bitsy, Boots, oh yeah Bootsy ! Bootsy Collins! That song really had a lot going on, with Q-tip rapping and everything... I dont know if Bootsy is older than George but he popped in my head either way, I think he had some bling. ANYWAY, jeez. So bling has been around. It has its lovers and its haters. The haters like to call it tacky, obnoxious, and unnecessary. The lovers just love it I think, and truthfully whether you like it or not it is getting more and more creative as time goes on.

What I'd like to know is whether or not the lovers or haters have ever thought about why bling became such a thing. I have a theory.

It has been said of bling, even in the Websters definition, that one of its purposes is to be a show of wealth. An overt, in yo face, Ive got money honey show piece. Ive personally heard mostly white people criticize it, and mostly black people admiring it. Mostly. Of course there are exceptions in both categories. A white rapper here and there with some bling, a snobby black republican ( yes they exist, just look up the head of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele) and I'll tell you what- the ladies from Housewives of NJ could give any rapper with bling a run for their money! My point is that overall I do see it as a black and white issue ( pun intended). Most of the critics are white and proponents black.

That all being said, is it really all that surprising or hard to understand that a black American, male or female, would want to spend their first big sum of earnings on something that would show the world they have attained success? Now this idea is going to touch upon big issues that deserve a post all to themselves but bear with me. I know its been what seems to us a long time since slavery was abolished, and civil rights were enacted, but we all know this is a deep, complex issue that lingers.

I myself have no idea what it would feel like to live in a world where it may seem like the cards were stacked against me. Of course, how deeply your life is affected by your race depends on location, family, education and of course money. I feel down and out at times, truthfully right now Im not doing so hot. Ive been looking for a job for what feels like forever and I have days when I wonder if Ive been "blacklisted" ( a term which ironically has no connection to ethnicity) from all the restaurants in Chicago ! But even on my worst days I still cant imagine adding to that emotion the idea of my people as a race having been enslaved, emancipated, degraded, upgraded at times, and finally given back rights that should never been taken away. I know a lot of white and black people feel this isnt something we should dwell on. To an extent I agree, and I am sure it is circumstantial whether or not this always comes into play. I do think though that to have on your back, to some degree, the idea that it is so much more important that you prove to yourself and the world that you can be a success based on this history is quite a heavy load. Its like being the first in a family to go to college on a much, much grander scale. Furthermore to understand the WHY of certain issues I think keeping this in mind is ever so necessary.

It has only been 45 years since the Civil Rights Act was put in place, outlawing segregation and implementing laws for equal opportunity. 45 years ! That is no time in terms of history, and we all know that when this act was put in place in 1964 the minds of the people who made these laws most necessary were not magically enlightened. Some still arent. Keeping all of this in mind now begin to think about white people. Even though I feel this should be assumed, I think if I dont mention that there are whites who havent always had it easy I might get in trouble ! I do realize that plenty of White, Hispanic, Asian and others out there also have had hard times. These are not who we are focusing on in this particular blog. All Im saying is white people have enjoyed the freedoms of success longer. We didnt have a time of oppression on this continent to set us back. Only time can bring about things like the term "old money" . Only time can allow people to go from humble beginnings to making money, then investing, and finally reaping the returns. Unless you win the lottery, making money, especially lots of money takes a lot of time. Time for trial and error, time to get comfortable enough financially to be able to take the kind of risks that earn the big money, without worrying about the stability of your family. Time is key.

Some people on the other hand have been at it for a good while now, and have had time to establish. Time to pass down money in our families that enables some of us to have an easier time earning even more money. Money for education. Money for hobbies that enrich our lives and sometimes prevent us from going down the wrong road. Money enough to feel mentally and emotionally calm enough to not entertain thoughts of quick fixes, or illegal ventures. Again, I am speaking in VERY broad terms, I know there are people of all kinds that struggle. This is a very general overview, but the truth that is there really does over time affect us so deeply and subconsciously in ways that form our behavior.

So when a rapper makes his first million and doesnt want to immediately invest it all, or run out and buy a house on Marthas Vineyard for his grandchildren to enjoy it makes perfect sense to me. When a singer wants to go out and buy a super giant diamond pendant instead of a "tasteful" strand of pearls, I understand. On an abstract level I might even go as far as thinking I would want to spend money on just the opposite kinds of things than the people who kept my people down. I, too, imagine that I would want to buy whatever screams to the world in the boldest way that I am a money making success, especially since I would have no idea how fleeting my popularity might be. This could be my only chance ! BOOM, Bling theory.

Speaking of bling, get a load of thats what Im bleepin talkin about!

The Guinness Book of World Records has just added Rapper LIL' JON as the owner of the largest diamond pendant ever. The hip-hop star's, "crunklinks Aint Dead" pendant is 7.5 inches (19 centimeters) tall, six inches (15.2 centimeters) wide, and one inch (2.5 centimeters) thick. It weighs almost 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms) and features 73 carats of diamonds - with 3,756 round-cut white diamonds encrusted in 18-karat yellow and white gold. The diamond pendant has been valued at about $500,000.

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