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Reggie Ossé and Gabriel Tolliver

Bling: The Hip-Hop Jewelry Book

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"Bling is a concept, a sound effect, a light refraction, a lifestyle," write authors Reggie Ossé and Gabriel Tolliver in the introduction to Bling. Their argument sounds slightly improbable -- some of us would argue that bling is just a played-out fad popularized by New Orleans rappers B.G. and Lil Wayne on "Bling Bling."

Despite its occasional pretensions, however, Bling is a fun and breezy book about the relationship between hip-hop and ostentatious jewelry. Dookie ropes, truck jewelry, pimp cups, dolphin earrings, and gold and platinum grills are all depicted by photographs and the cheekily written text. There are profiles of bling experts such as Eddie Plein, owner of Atlanta-based shop Eddie's Gold Teeth; and AKA Studios (formerly known as Pen & Pixel), which designed all those infamous Master P album covers.

It may be a bit much to stomach; some of these pieces look really ugly. But less-stuffy folks will welcome Bling as an informative document of hip-hop culture. 4 stars

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