#1 THE GRILL
Similar to the origin of Hip Hop, the trend of wearing “grillz”, gold or platnium jewlery worn over the teeth stems back to the days of slavery. Many slaves, just like their slave owners faced dental issues, and it was believed that the slaves that were considered most valuable in terms of work ethic and build would receive the necessary dental work in order to prevent any infection, which could thus lead to death. The grill has been glorified in several rap videos to the extent that businesses which sell “grillz” here and here are making a tremendous profit from the large audience that listens and keeps their eyes glued to the hip hop scene, especially in the South. Areas like Houston and Atlanta are known to be prevalent with rappers displaying a shiny gold pair of Grillz including Ludacris, Lil Jon and Goodie Mob. Although the trend began with New York rappers such as Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav, Big Daddy Kane and Kool G. Rap, it was surely resurected by rappers such as Mike Jones, Slim Thug and Paul Wall in the mid 2000’s in their hit video for “Still Tippin” and Lil Jon & the Eastside Boyz classic, “Get Low”. Surely, these videos were huge factors in introducing Grills to the millenials. Once the trend became so popular for it’s outrageous appearance and humility amongst some audiences, rappers began making more straight foward dedications to Grillz as opposed to shining in the background of their videos while continuing to rap about the daily hustles. Nelly’s properly titled track “Grillz” is a perfect example of this homage to the longstanding trend sweeping the nation with Caucasian pop singer Brooke Hogan even sporting a pair. Olympic Gold medalist Ryan Lochte has also publicly displayed his bright grills for the world to see, which goes to show you that the trend has not definitley became non-exclusive to people with black Ancestry. Personally, whether or not one should be offended by a white person wearing a pair of Grills is clearly up to the individual, however it should mentioned that trends, just like words in culture, are constantly being redefined. Look here for more on that subject.
While many “outsiders” may view wearing jewelery in one’s mouth simply ridiculous or ugly, it holds quite some signifcance when one takes a look at the history of the Grill, as I’ve mentioned earlier. As ridiculous as it may appear, it holds some quite deep signifance to many rappers. It isn’t just another means of showing off to the public, but merely a sign of one’s success and whether one decides to hate on the grill or the person wearing the grill, it should be noted that Hip Hop has always been about proving one’s ability, one’s ability to use wit, strength and perserverence to survive and make a mark. The Grill is a marker of progress that one has made thus far in the game.
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