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4 Rappers Who Changed the Way We Wear Gold

Posted on June 08 2020

various gold chains hanging

The evolution of hip hop has really only taken place over the last 50 years, making it one of the newer musical genres that have created some of the greatest and most successful figures in music and business history. As the genre evolved, so did the way that rappers presented themselves, finding an affinity for flashy, blinged-out gold chains for men along with bracelets, rings, and watches.

As more ladies have entered the world of hip hop, we’re beginning to see a shift in the way rappers sport their best bling, but these are some of the most influential people who have inspired our hip hop jewelry look for years.

Run DMC

This 80s rap group was among the first to achieve real widespread success, as Run DMC was the first hip hop group with an album that reached Gold status. Known for their decked-out Adidas gear and a love for the rope chain style, Run DMC first began to popularize the gold chain look in mainstream culture. Suddenly, everyone with a Run DMC album was looking for a place to get that same rope chain look.

One of many types of gold chains, the rope chain is made from several thin strands of gold that have been woven around each other to create a rope-like look. This style is still popular today, though it’s usually thought to be more of an old-school style. But, don’t be fooled. Run DMC also rocked some of the dopest styles of that era with their gold sneakers created for them by Adidas and a variety of other flashy rings, watches, and bracelets.

LL Cool J

Ladies Love Cool J—and his dope chains. This wildly successful 80s rapper was also a big fan of the rope chain look, but his style innovations didn’t stop there. LL Cool J was one of the first rappers to step out with the four-finger-ring look, making sure that everyone who saw him knew what a baller he was.

Cool J may have been considered one of the hardest rappers of his time, but he wasn’t afraid to show off his more sensitive side, as well, with his hit single “I Need Love,” which made its way to #9 on the Billboard’s top 100 in 1996, making it one of the few rap songs to even be listed on the charts at the time.

caricature biggie smalls rapper

Notorious B.I.G.

Arguably the most influential rapper when it comes to popularizing gold chains, the Notorious B.I.G. essentially invented the now well-known Jesus piece. When Biggie began to get ... well ... big, this was a huge moment for hip hop. Artists were receiving more mainstream attention than ever before and becoming wildly successful from it.

Biggie is often noted as one of the first artists to focus his music on the good life and success that many big rappers were experiencing, though, of course, much of his music also touches on deeper emotions and experiences.

His original Jesus piece was created by Tito the Jeweler, whom he gave a reported $10,000 to create a piece for himself and several others close to him. One of these original Jesus pieces would be worn by Jay-Z as an almost ritual good-luck charm every time he came out with a new album.

gold teeth grills

Nelly

Iced-out grillz were no new invention when Nelly hit the spotlight, but he, among others, is credited for bringing grillz into the mainstream and causing an influx of fans and other artists seeking out similar jewelry. Nelly was mainly known for rocking his bottom grill, but, in his song “Grillz” (we’ll give you one guess what it’s about), he emphasized that he wanted to “add the whole top diamonds and the bottom row’s gold.”

After this, rappers were always trying to one-up each other with an even doper grill or a more iced-out piece. Although Nelly did not invent the grill—Paul Wall is usually credited with this—he did open up mainstream culture’s eyes to this dope new kind of bling. Until pop star Katy Perry entered the chat with a whopping $1 million grill, Lil Wayne was long looked to as the rapper with the most expensive mouthpiece.

Looking Dope, Feeling Fine

So many influential rappers have altered the way that we wear gold chains and other bling, but these four are a few of the biggest names that stepped out with fresh styles and popularized underrated pieces of jewelry. At Frost NYC, we offer an extensive collection of gold chains for men to help you make some of these popular styles your own with dozens of different Jesus-piece pendant and gold chain styles for every kind of baller.

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