Wale uses, “Chain Music” to express his views on the influence that flashy things have on money-hungry women. The Maybach Music man laments that his new success and wealth hasn’t changed him, but when he shows his “geechi” self, money really does talk.
“I got geechi on her, came back: a hundred chains/And now these geechi motherfuckers all know my name/Geechi on her, came back: a million chains”.
Game – Jesus Piece feat. Kanye West and Common (2012)
The Game recruited fellow Jesus piece-wearer Yeezy to feature on this track as well as Common. The Jesus piece is used metaphorically for the Cali rapper to spit about his ambitions to make his billions, and shine. The Game sets the bar high as he looks to reach the heights of some of the legendary OGs he shouts out, including Dre and 2 Pac.
BURR! In 2005, Gucci Mane released this single off his first studio album, Trap House, which was about stunting with not only chains, but also grills, watches and all the other ice he could possibly cop.
Featuring Jeezy and Boo, this track actually resulted in beef between Mane and Jeezy. Lil J has yet to be paid his royalties for this appearance.
One rapper who has complete license to make music about chains and bling is Lil Jon.
With The Eastside Boyz, Jon takes it up several notches and rocks diamonds in his chain. To be specific, there are 3,756 diamonds in the ATL rapper’s most beloved chain piece, which made history in the Guinness Book of World Records. The pendant of this chain, around 7.5 inches thick, reads “Crunk Ain’t Dead,” and weighs in at 12 pounds.
It’s fair to say beating Lil Jon’s chain game would be no easy feat.
The multi-talented Hit-Boy raps over Kanye’s “New Slaves” on this joint. Whilst agreeing with Yeezy’s views of being trapped in a form of slavery. Hit-Boy can’t help but use his money to get an iced out Jesus piece. The rapper presents the clear conflict that many other artists, like J. Cole, have also highlighted.
With Q-Tip on production, Kanye looks at the figurative weight of the chain is much depth here with the help of Talib Kweli and Consequence who provide exceptional verses on the track.
A rapper’s chain shows their success, but West also sees it as a form slavery as people can’t help but buy into expensive things. Kweli describes this as “sadomasochistic” in this dope track from Yeezy’sGOOD Fridays offering.
XV raps over an old skool beat, relaying the irony of the freedom he feels from chains, whips and bars. Like Hit-Boy, he feels he is in a catch-22 with his love for material possessions, admitting at the end of the track, “I can’t take these chains off me”.
Now if we're considering Rick Ross, it’s not too hard to believe that he has ten chains. He’s always been one to take it up a level, or five. In this J.U.S.T.I.C.E League-produced track, Rozay shows appreciation for his jewelry and the life of luxury he has obtained through his grind. The Bawse also shouts out some real OGs who were known for their chain game, Eric B and Rakim.
Def Jam rapper, Logic keeps it real on this track. Sampling Gucci Mane’s chorus from his track, “My Chain” (which appears on this list as well), he provides an alternative look at the chain, which hip-hop haters often don’t grasp.
“Food stamps, welfare, medicare and section 8 to/Loui V, smoking tree, and steak up on my dinner plate/And you wonder why us rappers floss.. because for once/We can finally afford the cost /I once was the worker, now I'm the boss/See my chain is an accomplishment. I call these diamonds milestones”.
Mr Muthafuckin eXquire really gets outside of the box with his bars here. eXquire is one of the few rappers who has little care for the chains.
He draws parallels to the way African-Americans were once tied in shackles as slaves, and the way some of his homies are currently locked up in jail. eXquire wonders what’s the fuss about as he asks, “You think we had enough of fucking chains?”
In this cut from his mixtape Soul Tape 2,Fab compares himself to a diamond look back at his career and the lessons he’s learnt. Borrowing Riri’s "Diamonds" chorus on the track, he reckons himself to the process that a diamond undergoes with a diamantaire.
"I came from the dirt, made the cut and blew/So when you put me in that right light/What I do?”
From the hip hop collective of many talents, Cocaine 80s, James Fauntleroy gets together with Nas on this track and compares the glow of a chain to his hustle in the music game. Like many other artists, Fauntleroy also takes a shot at those gold-diggers who choose guys with ice but fail to see the shine of a man who works hard to succeed.
A leak off his forthcoming Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 due out this year, Staples indulges in his wants for material possessions, including the gold chain that he once saw on Jay Z. He refuses to stop there, as he wishes for a Benz amongst others things, funding his lifestyle as a drug dealer on his side job.
“First Chain” really brings home the importance of the chain in hip-hop. When Yeezy threw Big Sean his first Jesus piece, the Detroit rapper knew that he had finally made it big. Sean’s verses reflect on his journey up to this pivotal point in his career.
With Nas and Kid Cudi on the track, this song provides a basic education about chains in hip hop as Sean highlights some legendary rappers who have stunted their own pieces including Biggie back in 1992.
We learnt that Trinidad James had no shame or fear in overdoing the gold on, “All Gold Everything” which filtered into 2013 as a huge club banger. We couldn't very well keep it off this list. James’ track arrived (perhaps not so coincidentally) as gold made a come-back into hip-hop fashion in a very big way.
J. Cole – Chaining Day (2013)
Buying a chain is not always a simple decision. From this year’s huge album, Born Sinner, J. Cole does a dope job on this track explaining his thought process in purchasing his first ever chain.
Cole is well aware of the importance of image and how a chain is a textbook part of a rapper’s look. And it does not come cheap. Hov’s protégé admitted he felt pretty pathetic for spending his hard-earned money on a piece of jewellery instead of a more sensible option such as a crib.
HNHH takes a look at 20 tracks that talk about that shiny, obscenely expensive piece of jewelry often spotted on a rapper’s neck.
Whether it’s in gold, rose-gold, platinum or diamond-filled, rappers have often spared no expense when it comes to buying their chains. It is by no doubt an important symbol in hip hop that continuously crops up in rap music.
It’s easy to dismiss the obsession with chains as pure materialism. But this list of tracks certainly shows that hip hop’s love affair with this possession is a little more complex than meets the eye.
Hip hop is often likened to a competitive sport. The chain is the Olympic Gold medal for a rapper, demonstrating achievement and success. For many rappers who have seen poor more than they’ve seen rich, their ability to spend stupid amounts of money on a piece of jewelry is a luxury that they have never had.
Yet the necessity to buy into the chain culture is also compared to a form of slavery, something that Kanye West touches on. As many artists recognize this, many of these tracks also show the dilemma they face with their expensive wants.