Whether it's being articulately spat by the world's hottest rap stars or being infuriatingly misused by boring white idiots, hip-hop slang is everywhere you turn in modern society. Still, as likely as you are to hear "bling" several times a day, you probably don't know where words like it came from and, specifically, who you can blame for their creation. Well, we're here to help...
In the long, torturous history of rap slang that has been mercilessly beaten to a bloody pulp by soccer moms and socialites, no term has taken more abuse than "bling." This seemingly meaningless word is meant to approximate the sound that is made when light reflects off of diamond jewelry. You know that sound, right? The sound light makes when it reflects off of something? Why do you look so confused right now?
New Orleans rapper and self proclaimed "hottest nigga under the sun" Lil' Wayne is most often credited with creating the word. It's a common misconception that he goes to absolutely no lengths to deny, as evidenced by this line from the Outkast featuring Lil' Wayne song "Hollywood Divorce"...
"Bling bling, I know and did you know I'm the creator of the term."
You are a liar, Weezy.
To his credit, he is one of the first rappers to say it. He used the word on a song called "Millionaire Dream" in 1998, but the word really took off the following year with the song "Bling, Bling" which was featured on an album by fellow Cash Money Records rapper, B.G. But the fact is, Wayne is taking a little too much credit for "bling." The real origin of the term is far less hood than you would believe.
Approximately this hood.
Back in the 70s and 80s there were a series of popular television commercials for a toothpaste called Ultrabrite. In one of the commercials, which happens to be the one fucking Ultrabrite commercial we can't find on YouTube, the narrator announces that "Ultrabrite gives your mouth...(insert sound effect that sounds like bling)...sex appeal." The line is delivered as a man smiles, revealing a row of gleaming white teeth. When the light hits his teeth, the "bling!" sound is heard.
The sound effect was given a name in the early 90s by comedian Martin Lawrence. In his stand up routine and on the Fox television show Martin (wherein he was so crazy), he would parody the famous Ultrabrite ads by using the word "bling!" to suggest that his jewelry gleamed like the teeth in those famous commercials. That's gangster! Kind of!