Recession takes bite out of hip hop bling!

21 04 2009

The hip-hop world is a less bling-bling place these days.

The music genre has been defined as much by diamond-encrusted watches and platinum chains as its gritty urban lyrics. But in the last couple of years, it has scaled down its flash, a trend insiders say has become more pronounced during the recent recession.

Make no mistake: The industry that made an urban household name out of New York‘s Jacob “Jacob the Jeweler” Arabov me isn’t entirely reversing course. (Case in point – Lil Wayne‘s “A Milli,” one of last year’s biggest songs, which had the rapper bragging wildly about being a “young millionaire.”)

But “the day of conspicuous consumption is gone,” says Tamara Connor, an Atlanta-based stylist who has created looks for chart-topping rappers, including Lil Wayne.

“We’re still going to see some bling, but it’s just not going to be as much,” Connor says. “Instead of four diamond necklaces, it might just be a diamond bracelet – and it’s a piece the celebrity wears all the time. They’re not changing their jewelry out everyday.”

Photo shoots, for example, are being done with fewer of the specialized medallions considered a calling card for the likes of Rick Ross, whose chain with a likeness of his head – complete with black diamond beard – has an estimated value of $30,000.

Instead you might see a rapper in an off-the-shelf diamond cross or wearing lower-quality stones.

“You can save $3,000 a carat if you do non-ring quality diamonds for studs (earrings),” Connor notes.

Ben Baller, head of Los Angeles-based jeweler I.F. & Co., says the shift is most pronounced among up-and-coming rappers, for whom a steady income is seeming like less of a sure thing.

Rap sales have declined along with the rest of the music industry. Before, a new artist might spend $25,000 of a $30,000 advance on a chain, according to Baller, who counts Fat Joe as a client.

“Now they would rather try to spend $5,000 and $6,000,” he says, adding, “they’re willing to talk about options by using sapphires, using very, very low quality gold. “Some people (are) even wanting to mix diamonds with cubics (cubic zirconia) so it would not be completely ungenuine.”

Cost-cutting is major for the industry in which the carat-weight of one’s ring could carry more cache than record sales. Ostentatious fashion has been in hip-hop’s DNA since Slick Rick donned layers of opulent gold chains in the ’80s.

The flash reflected the music style born of the streets of New York, its stars often hard-knock kids who christened their new success with thick rope chains and designer sweatsuits.





One response

21 04 2009
Nicole 'Cherries TnT' Louis

dat man actually has totuts! he’s about a 60D, possible DD : O /

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