Designer watches have played a large role in hip hop since its humble beginnings in 70’s New York. With the likes of the Sugarhill Gang among the first to flash their solid gold watches on stage, it’s no wonder that today’s hip hop is more riddled with bling than ever before.
Whether in the form of lyrics, celebrity endorsements or watch designs inspired by hip hop groups, the link between designer timepieces and the hip hop music genre is surprisingly strong. Techno, house, jazz – no other genre is as bling-centric as hip hop is, and this mostly comes down to the harsh social commentary a lot of the finest hip hop provides. Take acoustic music as opposed to hip hop for example – usually, acoustic songs revolve around issues such as love or loss, whereas hip hop tracks almost always depict social discontent.
There is a large cultural theory behind the bragging and bravado nature of hip hop. To put it simply, despite the fact that hip hop was born out of a repressed subculture and independent roots, as soon as the genre started to attract commercial success, the lyrics hip hop lifestyle became more about celebrating the capitalistic life that the artists entered into. A study entitled Bling Bling – The Economic Discourses of Hip Hop, suggests that this “presents us with a case where economic language is used in a positive, affirming way… by a subculture that is usually seen as repressed and downtrodden by the very capitalism it celebrates."
In any case, one industry that will forever be in debt to hip hop is the designer watch industry. Watch companies worldwide can thank the numerous hip hop artists that were spotted on stage with various timepieces, and therefore urging their fans to run out and purchase them from online retailers such as Chrono24.
Spotted on hip hop icons
The likes of Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and Jay Z have all been spotted with some of the finest designer watches during performances, music videos and general outings. Snoop Dogg is known for changing up his watch selection and occasionally donning a very inexpensive Geneva Quartz. Kanye West went as far as to get his face encrusted in diamonds on his very own Tiret timepiece, while Jay-Z often wears a Rolex Day Date. Hip hop artists with a flashy, gold timepieces go as far back as Grandmaster Flash, DJ Kool Herc and the early years of hip hop. A wide variety of such bling can be spotted in the recent 4-part documentary Hip-Hop Evolution that traces the beginning of the popular music genre.
Designer watches in lyrics
Luxury watch brands commonly appear in the lyrics of hip hop tracks, especially those featuring rap. Below are a few instances of luxury watches cropping up in terms of money and success and in this boastful manner as previously mentioned:
”I got the rollie on my arm and I’m pouring Chandon and I roll the best weed ‘cos I got it going on” – Drop It Like It’s Hot by Snoop Dogg
”Stay on time Omegas” – Speed Law by Mos Def
”Rollies that don’t tick-tock, Audemars that’s losing time” – Niggas in Paradise by Jay Z
”That’s why you always see me, with at least one of my watches, rollies and pashas done drove me crazy” – All Falls Down by Kanye West
Watches inspired by hip hop artists
Hip hop artists’ affinity for wrist wear, has inspired a whole new trend of affordable bling for music fans and many entrepreneurial endeavors for the artists. Starting with a Casio G-Shock watch designed after one of the most influential hip hop groups of our time, Wu-Tang Clan. This black and yellow design with the Wu-Tang “W” logo is slightly less bling than the hundreds of watches for sale online under the title “Hip Hop Watches.” These are usually donned with diamonds, crystals, gold, silver and all things luxury. Generally speaking, it is only a matter of time until today’s hip hop artists dabble in their own jewelry or fashion line.