Bling: Consequence and Repercussions (Film)

Artist: Documentary ReviewTitle: Bling: Consequence and Repercussions (Film)Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: J. Alise

“Medallion iced up, Rolex bezelled up

and my pinky ring is platinum plus

earrings be trillion cut

and my grill be slugged up.”

–Baby of Cash Money Millionaires, “Bling, Bling”

Baby’s illustrative quote appropriately opens this independent documentary which raises the issues behind Hip-Hop’s diamond obsession and Sierra Leone’s conflict diamond trade. Chuck D narrates this short, 20-minute documentary, highlighting destruction and carnage that is fed by our culture’s desire for “bling.” He discusses how Hip-Hop’s fat gold chains of the 1980’s paved the way for the today’s jewel of choice: diamonds.

“Bling” (WGH Films) gives a brief historical background of the diamond mining industry, DeBeers’s monopoly, and the conflict between the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the corrupt Sierra Leone government; illustrating how greed, poverty and desire for control has led to massacres of thousands of Africans. Graphic footage of civilians with missing limbs, mangled bodies and the bloody aftermath accompanies a candid firsthand narration from the frontlines by Greg Campbell, author of “Blood Diamonds: Tracing The Paths of the World’s Most Precious Stone.”

The film also features interviews with Hip-Hop jewelers, Marvin Newman of Miami’s The Diamond Exchange, and David Shimanov of Kinetics of New York. They attempt to rationalize rappers’ need to have the flashiest jewelry; yet only scratch the surface by attributing it mainly to vanity and status. Newman explains the multi-step process of how diamonds make their journey from Sierra Leone’s mines into the hands of American jewelry dealers, perhaps aiming to absolve responsibility for the jeweler’s role in the diamond conflict.

Man-on-the-street interviews reveal how little the general public knows about conflict diamonds, and even where Sierra Leone is located. The interviews range from a couple that resembles an Abercrombie & Fitch ad, a surprisingly insightful teenager, to a Black father and daughter who have family ties to Sierra Leone. Through their responses, they illustrate irony and ignorance.

Although “Bling” offers a solid understanding of the diamond conflict, there is room to explore Hip-Hop’s role, via interviews with rappers and cultural critics. This short documentary serves a preview to a feature length film, set for release in 2007; which will hopefully delve deeper into the factors around Hip-Hop’s lethal connection to Sierra Leone’s conflict diamond trade.

Related Stories