"Bling-bling" was added to the Oxford Dictionary ten years ago today

by Aaron Zorgel

April 30, 2013






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The Oxford Dictionary officially added “bling-bling” to the English language. Here are 5 red-letter uses of the iconic phrase.

photo via XXL

bling (also bling-bling)
Pronunciation: /blɪŋ/


expensive, ostentatious clothing and jewellery: “look at the bling he’s already wearing on his left arm”


denoting expensive, ostentatious clothing or jewellery, or the style or materialistic attitudes associated with them: “the bling lifestyle of diamond rings, flashy cars, and champagne”

Ah, April 30th, 2003. Do you remember it as well as I do? The sun was shining. The birds were chirping. Libya accepted responsibility for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. And of course, the Oxford Dictionary officially added “bling-bling” to the English language.

“Bling-bling,” a term popularized but not necessarily coined by Lil Wayne, joined “jiggy,” “dope,” “breakbeat,” and “phat” as legitimized hip-hop slang exactly ten years ago today. As far as we’re concerned, that’s a good enough excuse as any to wax nostalgic on some of the red-letter uses of the phrase. But first, you’ve gotta wonder: where did “bling-bling” actually come from, and who’s fault is it?

In the late 1960s, toothpaste brand Ultra-Brite ran a series of commercials with the following tagline: “Ultrabrite gives your mouth…[bell sound]…sex appeal!”

Comedian Martin Lawrence (yeah, Big Momma herself) parodied that bell sound, vocalizing it as “bling” on his sitcom Martin. This is likely where rapper Third Eye got the inspiration for his verse on the 1993 remix to Supercat’s “Dolly My Baby,” which is the first use of “bling-bling” in a song.

You’ve probably heard Lil Wayne take credit for coining “bling-bling” on the 1999 song of the same name by B.G., but in reality, it appeared in at least two songs before then. Tupac also used the word “bling” in “Fuck Friendz,” a song he recorded in 1996, but was released posthumously in 2001.

Join us in tracing five important uses of “bling-bling” in hip-hop, from its storied origins, to the lyrical death-sentence handed to the term via Harlem rapper Immortal Technique in 2003. It looks like as soon as the academic world was ready to embrace “bling-bling,” hip-hop was already done with it.

1993: Supercat – “Dolly My Baby (Remix)” feat. Puff Daddy, Notorious B.I.G., and Third Eye

“Bling, bling! Who’s that with Supercat (Third Eye!, Third Eye!) / Yes black, where all my troopers at (Uptown!, Uptown!)” (Third Eye)

1996: 2 Pac – “Fuck Friendz” (Recorded in 1996, released in 2001)

“So why you hesitatin actin like yo’ shit don’t stink / Check out my diamonds bitch, everyone gonna blink (bling bling bling)”

1999: B.G. – “Bling Bling” feat. Hot Boyz and Big Timers

“Bling bling, every time I come around yo city
Bling bling, pinky ring worth about fifty
Bling bling, everytime I buy a new ride
Bling bling, Lorenzos on Yokahama tires”

(Lil Wayne)

1999: Jermaine Dupri – “Going Home With Me” feat. Keith Sweat & ROC

“BLING BLING! I’m thinkin’ it’s bout time to go / Get the B out of valet and start the late night show” (Jermaine Dupri)

2003: Immortal Technique – “Industrial Revolution”

“The bling-bling era was cute but it’s about to be done / I leave ya full of clips like the moon blockin’ the sun”

Tags: Music, Featured, News, Big Tymers, Diddy, Immortal Technique, Jermaine Dupri, Keith Sweat, Lil Wayne, Notorious B.I.G.






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