Of all the accessories popularized by emcees, is there one that better symbolizes rap culture than gold chains?
Indispensable cloakroom any self-respecting artist, they hold from the start just as much of the label in the middle as the external sign of wealth.
And too bad if sometimes too caricatured they end up regularly caricatured: never their popularity is denied .
Back in images on four decades of ostentation.
When, like Kurtis Blow, we can boast of being the very first rapper ever to sign in major (in 1979 on Marcury Records) and that we immediately win the first gold album of its kind (in 1980). with the single The Breaks ), what's more natural than to appear in cover of his album with no less than six different chains around his neck?
Without saying it, it is here a whole posture which has just been born: a rapper crowned with success must show his success - a posture which will be accompanied very quickly by its very ambiguous corollary: a rapper who wants to make believe that he has success must believe that he has succeeded.
Run DMC for posterity
Question look, hard to make more iconic than Run, DMC and Jam Master Jay. In addition to their eternal Adidas sneakers, hats and other Cazale glasses, the trio is also responsible for popularizing THE most iconic chain of the decade: the dookie chain .
More ostentatious you die, this necklace with faux-airs of braided ropes will then be seen at the necks of the certified platinum salesmen that are the Beasties Boys and Marley Marl. LL Cool J, for his third album released in 1987, does not hesitate to wear one to the black panther photographed on the cover .
Level game, the game then takes a new twist with Slick Rick , aka the British Mister T, who flaunts at each of his appearances a hardware store with enough to make the Queen of England blush.
If quantity question there is enough to fill a dishwasher, not said however that quality issue, it is however very careful for the author of La Di Da Di to put the nose outside in rainy weather - the risk to fall a myth, all this still breathes a bit too much to be honest .
If the rappers were very quick to draw ideas from the mackerel and dealeurs at the corner of their streets, they were also inspired by the image of ancient African monarchs Epinal of the time when the mother continent controlled the immense majority of the world's most valuable metals reserves.
So when in 1988 Big Daddy Kane released his album Long Live The Kane , hard not to see distant references to Egyptian pharaohs or Kanga Moussa , the Malian emperor of the 14th century considered the richest man of the history of humanity.
The taste of revenge
Voices of the voiceless at the beginning , hip-hop was for those at the bottom of the economic and social ladder, those for whom the American dream was a mirage.
Quite paradoxically, the rapper strutting in jewels and luxury brands (as above Eric B. & Rakim on the cover of their aptly named Paid In Full ) ended up becoming in the eyes of his audience the embodiment of a certain idea of revenge , the gold chain becoming a kind of trophy flaunt in the face of its original condition.A question of loyalty
As for the beginning of the 90s, rap became a cultural force and began to structure itself commercially, the meaning of the channels changed .
Not only considered as a way to play the biggest artist, they become a symbol of allegiance to the new labels that emerge , the Death Row, Cash Money & Co. modeling the system of representation of gangs on their internal organigrams.
To be awarded a chain of the Death Corridor (in gold for the employees, in diamond for the artists) is then worth in the streets of California all the contracts of the world.
If only one