The Origins of Bling in Hip-Hop

By John Newcomb Bling-Bling (or just Bling) has become synonymous with hip hop, an ubiquitous part of the hip hop lifestyle. As a word, "bling" is an ideophone - a word used to convey a sound, or certain other sensation. "Bling," according to rap culture, is the imagined sound that light makes when it shines off a sparkling surface, like diamonds, gold, and other jewels. In hip hop, it is used as a by-word for expensive and flashy jewelery, cars, etc. While most hip hop fans believe that the term "bling" was coined by rapper Lil Wayne, who has even gone on record to say that he was the original creator of the term, the truth is that this term has much older and way less glamorous origins. It was in the 1980s that Ultra Brite, the toothpaste maker, ran a commercial which mimicked the a bell like sound during its slogan - "UltraBrite gives your mouth...[pling] appeal". Soon enough, comedians on SNL were parodying this sound and calling it "bling". Over time, comedians started using it to describe anything traditional gaudy jewelery worn by pimps. And then of course, it was adopted by rappers to describe their own jewelery, first, reportedly, by Lil Wayne. Soon, the term passed over from the rap community to the mainstream. Today, the term is universally recognized, with everyone from middle aged housewives to middle school students using it. In off shoots of hip hop, such as reggaeton from Puerto Rico, it is slightly modified to "blink-blink". The meaning, however, remains the same. Interesting fact: Rappers today choose not to use the term "bling" anymore. Instead, they now call their jewelery "diamonds." Find more articles like these about rappers at Get more inside scoop on rappers, rap news, and rap beats. Article Source:

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