Simon Bilodeau, Éternelle vanité/Audrey Clary, galerie Art Mûr, 2006.
photo : Lee Brunet
“Bling-bling, Everytime I come around, yo city, Bling-bling, Pinky ring worth about fifty.”1 1  - Bling-bling, by B.G, with Baby Turk, Mannie Fresh, Juvenile, and Lil Wayne. With those words, sung by rappers B.G. and Lil Wayne and broadcast on MTV, bling-bling entered the mainstream in the late 1990s. The expression, already in use for some time in the hip-hop subculture, referred to the conspicuous, expensive artifacts of gangsta fashion, borrowed from stereotypical images of the pimp, a style emphasizing large, flashy jewels (generally in gold or platinum and studded with diamonds).

Without a doubt, the first bling-bling artists or craftsmen in hip-hop show-business were the specialized jewellers, like Jacob Arabo and Jason Arasheben, who fashioned the extravagant jewelry. The former boasts of supplying American hip-hop stars and major league athletes. In recognition of his work, Jay-Z, G-Unit, and Kanye West mention Jacob the Jeweller in their lyrics. As for Arasheben, he’s known for having designed the heaviest pendant in the world — almost 2.5 kilos, a Guinness record — in gold and diamonds (over 3,700) for artist Lil Jon. Life is for the passionate, for the excessive, as French author Pierre Drieu La Rochelle liked to say.

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This article also appears in the issue 69 - bling-bling

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