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
Babys illustrative quote appropriately opens this independent documentary which raises the issues behind Hip-Hops diamond obsession and Sierra Leones conflict diamond trade. Chuck D narrates this short, 20-minute documentary, highlighting destruction and carnage that is fed by our cultures desire for bling. He discusses how Hip-Hops fat gold chains of the 1980s paved the way for the todays jewel of choice: diamonds.
Bling (WGH Films) gives a brief historical background of the diamond mining industry, DeBeerss 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 Worlds Most Precious Stone.
The film also features interviews with Hip-Hop jewelers, Marvin Newman of Miamis 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 Leones mines into the hands of American jewelry dealers, perhaps aiming to absolve responsibility for the jewelers 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-Hops 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-Hops lethal connection to Sierra Leones conflict diamond trade.