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 hip hop culture, is the imagined sound that light makes when it shinse off a sparkling surface, like diamonds, gold, and other jewels.
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 toothpase maker, ran a commercial which mimicked the a bell like sound during its slogan – “UltraBrite gives your mouth…[pling]…sex appeal”. Soon enough, comedians on SNL were parodying this sound and calling it “bling”. Over time, comedians started using it to describe anything gaudy, or pimpish.
And then of course, it was adopted by rappers to describe their own jewellery, first, reportedly, by Lil Wayne. Soon, the term passed over from the hip hop community to the mainstream.
Interesting fact: Rappers today choose not to use the term “bling” anymore. Instead, they now call their jewellery “diamonds”.