Heist Out, Iced Out: A look into Custom Jewelry in HipHop

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Heist Out, Iced Out: A look into Custom Jewelry in HipHop

What do rappers' jewelry choices reveal??

Heist Out, Iced Out: A look into Custom Jewelry Choices of Rappers

It is hard to picture figures of the hip hop world without bold bling. Jewelry is a cornerstone of hip hop culture that subverts the experiences so many rappers lyricize – inequality, disenfranchisement, and time spent behind bars as a result. The reality is that in the world of rap, being convicted of a crime is almost as inevitable as having a chart-topping hit. And incarcerated rappers gave birth to trends in custom jewelry choices. Slick the Rick’s aptly named “Justice Scale” chain, Uzi’s iced-out “Marilyn Manson” pendant, Gucci Mane’s “1017” bling are among many iconic examples of rappers drawing inspiration from their time behind bars to redefine the jewelry game.

Uzi at the 2018 Grammys: looks like this pendant could double as a Horcrux… (Credit Vogue)

To start, the term “icing” refers to the practice of drenching jewelry in diamonds, making it look like it’s covered in ice. It’s said to have originated in the streets, where criminals would buy cheap jewelry and cover it in diamonds to make it appear more valuable. However, as the trend caught on in the rap world, high-end jewelry designers began creating custom pieces specifically designed for “icing out”.

Let’s start with Gucci Mane, the king of “trap” music (a Southern genre of hip hop music). Despite his repeated legal troubles, Gucci has never lost his love for diamonds. Here are some of his most famous pieces (pictured below):

Gucci Mane shows off a bit of his collection (image from GQ)

Bow and Arrow: $100,000

Ice Cream Cone Pendant: $85,000 – he’s got a tattoo to go along with it!

My favorite flavor is… diamond (Credit BET)

50 Cent, on the other hand, has never been one to shy away from making a statement. During his time in prison, he started the trend of customizing initials and symbols into jewelry, creating the famous “G-Unit” chain. The chain features a diamond-encrusted “G” surrounded by a unit of bullet casings, symbolizing his rough upbringing in the streets.

That’s got to weigh a lot. (Credit

That’s got to weigh a lot. (Credit Getty Images)

These two rappers may be at the forefront of custom jewelry choices, but they are by no means alone. Among them,  Lil Wayne’s $1 million “Chopard” chain from Birdman and Meek Mill’s “Dream Chasers” medallion (pictured below) stand out for their unique usage of white diamonds, it seems that every rapper with a criminal record is using their jewelry to make a statement, whether it’s their debut album, their homage, or simply a comment on the wealth they gained from their LPs. 

Here’s some more famous jewelry from your favorite convicted musicians.

Meek Mill’s Dream Chasers Medallion from Shyne Jewelers in Philadelphia, PA (Credit Rap-Up)

Snoop Dogg’s “Death Row Records” Chain

From Super Bowl LVI (Credit BBC)

Wiz Khalifa’s “P” chain – no, the P is not for Penn!

P is for Pittsburgh! (Credit ckhid)

Custom jewelry choices have become an integral part of the rap game. Convicted rappers draw on time spent behind bars to design innovative symbols of their history.  The bling they sport makes a sparkling statement: bold and ostentatious, it subverts the experience of oppression and imprisonement. From ice cream cones to bullet casings, these custom pieces serve as a symbol of their past, present, and future, and are a testament to the enduring impact of rap culture on the world of fashion.

So the next time you see one of these iced-out rappers freestyling with ease, take a moment to appreciate the creativity and symbolism with which they infuse their style as well their lyrics.

Featured Image courtesy of Getty

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