Musicians have been known to have some of the strongest voices in the way of change. Hip-hop artists in particular are putting their money where their mouth is. With a small amount of research we discovered a whole world of investments, businesses and brands rappers have stored in their pockets.
Last month, Lil Uzi Vert debuted a huge 10-carat pink diamond in the middle of his forehead. Of course, the first question that springs to mind is how the hell is that even possible? But way beyond that, we want to delve into the decision-making process behind the new accessory.
While details have been a little vague, particularly thanks to a now-deleted tweet from the rapper, it's been confirmed that it's safe to endure such a procedure. In the deleted tweet, Lil Uzi shared a picture of himself with blood dripping from the piercing. In the caption, he claimed that if the diamond was not removed carefully, he could die. Thankfully, the hitmaker has since clarified that both himself and the $24 million diamond are safe and sound.
Initially, there was a lot of concern about how the diamond had been embedded into his forehead and whether it was safe. Since then, in an interview with Rolling Stone, Simon Babaev (speaking on behalf of Eliantte & Co jewellers, who supplied the diamond) has revealed all.
When asked if the procedure is safe, Simon explained: "Yeah, it's as safe as any other piercing. As long as you maintain it well and have good upkeep, it's perfectly fine. We made sure that prior to getting anything done that Lil Uzi brought someone in to consult on everything. We didn't just do this randomly."
He went on to explain the process behind embedding the diamond as he said: "In the body modification world, they usually do everything in stainless steel or surgical-grade steel. But in our case, we did everything with precious metals. We engineered a specific mounting that clips and locks in place. There's a whole mechanism involved; it's not a standard piercing. A specific piece and part were both engineered with millimetre precision to get this put on him."
So, if you were wondering if the diamond is firmly in place, it's safe to say it is. There are no magnets or glue involved here.
A show of wealth
We've seen displays of wealth, time and time again, particularly from celebrities. From Cam'Rons iconic pink range rover (throwback) to Gucci Mane's Bart Simpson chain, it's certainly not uncommon. However, this feels slightly different. This is something that we've never seen before.
Of course, a $24 million diamond certainly isn't a spur of the moment purchase unless you've got billions to play with. In fact, the process started back in 2017. As explained by Simon, Lil Uzi 'fell in love' with the diamond in 2017 and went away to think about what he'd do with it. After some deliberation, he'd decided that he'd embed the stone and began making payments.
In a tweet posted in January, Lil Uzi explained that he'd "been paying for a natural pink diamond from Elliot (for Eliantte & Co) for years now." He added: "this one stone cost so much I've been paying for it since 2017. That was the first time I saw a real natural pink diamond." Before signing off with "A lot of M's in my face."
In today's current climate, it begs the question, is there a more productive way to spend $24 million? As the purchase totals more than the worth of his car collection and home combined, is it tone deaf? Is it a crass show of wealth, or does it go much deeper? It goes without saying that the purchase was, of course, unnecessary, but at the end of the day, who is anyone else to tell Lil Uzi how to spend his money?
Interestingly, while this may be one of the wildest things we've seen in a while, it's not a ridiculous financial decision. Buying such a precious stone is a very wise investment. It will pay off far more than chartering private jets and buying brand new cars. So, although it may seem like a mad move, when you take the time to think about it, you could argue that a $24 million diamond is indeed a rational purchase. Perhaps embedding it into your forehead is a step too far, but that's a whole different conversation.
With that said, when quizzed on Twitter why he didn't just get the diamond placed on a ring, Lil Uzi responded: "If I lose the ring yeah U will make fun of me more than putting it in my forehead ha ha jokes on you ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… And yes I do have insurance." I mean, there's some logic to it?
When the average person sees someone in the public eye spend a considerable amount of money on something totally unnecessary, it can make us feel a type of way. One of the most common questions in conversation is how you would personally spend that kind of money. Would you spend it like there's no tomorrow or save it for the future?
As Twitter users questioned his purchase, Lil Uzi also took the time to confirm that he is still "super-rich" before confirming he will "never do it again".
As I've worked through this piece and considered the decision from different points of view, I've come to realise that it isn't as reckless as I first thought. While the fact the diamond is embedded into Lil Uzi's head sends shivers down my spine, I can appreciate the investment.
Inspiring a new trend
While there will be many cases against a purchase and body modification of this sort, there will be plenty of people out there feeling inspired by Lil Uzi's decision. When asked if he thought Lil Uzi's move would inspire a new trend, Simon of Eliantte & Co responded: "People always want something that no one else has… Lil Uzi himself is a trendsetter, so I wouldn't be surprised if people out there requested this." He added: "It's crazy. Lil Uzi is definitely a trendsetter."
Although some may conclude that embedding a 10-carat diamond into their forehead is a step too far, it may well inspire them in different ways. Whether it be an inspiration of self-expression, body positivity and ownership or motivation to achieve the level of financial freedom Lil Uzi enjoys, one thing is for sure, it's a talking point.
The fact of the matter is, what Lil Uzi does to his body is his prerogative; no one else has a say. The same goes for how he spends his money. His decision is sure to spark some debate and ignite opinions, both negative and positive, but why should he care?
Role model material?
There's no denying that Lil Uzi has a powerful influence. From fans that love his music to fellow rappers who followed suit after his game-changing record "XO TOUR Llif3"dropped, this guy has a lot of clout.
Many would argue that with such influence comes great responsibility. Leading me to my next question; as someone with so much power, was this latest move irresponsible?
Over the years, those in the public eye have come under fire for their decisions. Many celebrities have been dubbed bad role models, from the Kardashians to Chris Brown and Cardi B; it's nothing new. As celebrities are publicly scrutinised by fans and critics alike, some pay it no attention while others clapback at every occasion.
Many artists may argue that they're just here to make music; they don't want the responsibility that comes with it. However, in the age of social media, when celebrities appear more accessible than ever, they're also under the spotlight more than ever.
No doubt Lil Uzi knew that such a decision would raise some questions, and he's been taking the time to respond to them. One comment that has done the rounds in recent weeks was from someone who called Lil Uzi out for cultural appropriation as they wrote: "Where r all the people saying cultural appropriation? I guess it doesn't matter when it's Asian cultures."
Taking the time to respond to the tweet, Lil Uzi wrote: "Hey glad to see you sharing your thoughts and knowledge….. but I'm not mimicking anything I know about a lot and love different forms of art… do you even know where the images is from? Honestly… I love y'all." Possibly one of the politest clapbacks I've read recently.
In fact, after taking the time to scroll through his recent tweets, he's actually responded very positively to inquisitive questions and the odd joke too.
Lil Uzi is unapologetically himself; from hard-hitting lyrics like "push me to the edge, all my friends are dead" to embedding a diamond in his forehead, he's certainly one of a kind. He’s original, and that should be celebrated.
To me, Lil Uzi isn't afraid to colour outside the lines, and I respect it. His decision hasn't affected anyone else negatively, so I see no reason for it to be living rent-free in our heads. It's safe, it's his money, and it's his body. Should Lil Uzi have to justify his decision to anyone else, or are we expecting too much from someone who is merely doing them?