Glistening chains, diamonds, and other flashy jewelry serve as a visual symbol of an artist's success and achievement, a physical manifestation of the wealth and status they've earned through their music — the ultimate flex. Who hasn't wanted one of Pharrell's iconic Jacob & Co pieces or to be blessed with a Rocafella chain by Jay Z himself? If you are a hip-hop fan at some point, you've fantasized about dawning a little ice around your neck. But I digress.
These pieces of jewelry act as a reminder not only of their own success but also of their journey to get there, the obstacles they've overcome, and the sacrifices they've made. They are staples directly tied to the bombastic origins of hip-hop. Some of rap's royalty have taken MC's love for shiny things even further. The legendary Pimp C once implied that since the purveyors of the black art form are descendants of African Kings, it only makes sense that we would like "shiny things."
In the rap world, wealth and material possessions are more than just a display of status, they're a testament to the relentless drive, ambition, and talent of the artists who've earned it. The pursuit of wealth may come with its own set of problems, but it remains an integral part of the rap culture, serving as a source of inspiration, motivation, and empowerment.
As hip hop into the most vital cultural force in the world, it's no surprise then that rappers often compete to own the biggest and best chains, continuing a long-standing tradition of one-upmanship in the hip-hop community. Such rivalries have resulted in the creation of some truly wonderful and yet absurd pieces of jewelry over the years that sometimes even overshadow the music itself.
What follows is a selection of the most excessive chains that the hip-hop world has to offer, ranging from ludicrously expensive to beautifully ludicrous.
Read on to see the rappers with the best rapper chains in the game.
10. Slick Rick's Justice Scale Chain
Estimated value: $250,000
Can also be used… as a spare dinner plate
With more gold than Richie Rich and Mr T combined, Slick Rick helped pioneer the culture of excess that would come to define hip-hop. As far back as the mid 80s, the man otherwise known as MC Ricky D wore countless necklaces and rings, often with an actual crown, but none of this measured up still to his justice scale medallion. Larger than his actual face, this glorious accessory would eventually take on a whole new meaning after Slick Rick was sent to jail when he pled guilty to two counts of attempted murder along with numerous other charges too.
9. Method Man's Ice Pick Chain
Estimated value: $25,000
Can also be used… as an actual murder weapon
Long before custom jewelry became the norm in hip-hop, Method Man commissioned this impressive piece of bling, which the TSA apparently refused to let through security one time on account of its deadly potential. As an esteemed member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Method Man has laid down some killer rhymes over the years, so it makes sense that he’d wear a killer chain too.
8. Quavo's Ratatouille Chain
Estimated value: $250,000
Can also be used… to blind enemies with a diamond glare
Migos love to get 'Bad & Boujee' with their jewelry, but Quavo took this to new extremes a couple years back when he commissioned a chain inspired by a Pixar reference in their hit single: “Still be playin‘ with pots and pans, call me Quavo Ratatouille.” Repping Disney culture, the white gold pendant is covered from head to claw with VVS white diamonds and outmatches even Quavo’s “Yoda” piece in terms of cartoonish absurdity.
7. Cam'ron's Harlem World Chain
Estimated value: $250,000
Can also be used… as a Horcrux
A few years back, Cam'ron became Public Enemy #1 with the fashion police thanks to his ridiculous and yet also kind of impressive Harlem World Chain. Featuring a battery-powered globe that actually spun round and round, the mechanical chain has since been bought by Lil Yachty who swapped out the words “Killa Cam Harlem World” and replaced them with “Yachty’s World.”
6. Lil Jon's Crunk Ain't Dead Chain
Estimated value: $500,000
Can also be used… as a crunktastic door stop
At the time it was made, Lil Jon's Crunk Ain't Dead Chain was the largest diamond pendant ever created and ironically enough, it’s appeal endured long after crunk itself died on the charts. Almost bigger than Lil Jon itself, the infamous chain weighed over 5 lbs and even wound up in the Guinness Book of World Records. Although its title has since been snatched by another, Lil Jon’s most impressive creation remains one for the history books.
5. Pharrell N.E.R.D Chain
Estimated value: $1,000,000
Can also be used… to flex on anyone that called you a nerd
Jacob The Jeweller has outfitted hip-hop royalty such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Notorious B.I.G. in custom jewelry but has been quoted saying that Pharrell is his favorite customer. The two have a long relationship, with Jacob first meeting the musician when he was 18 and later introducing him to his future business partner Nigo. Since that first meeting, the two have been responsible for creating some extravagant jewelry but none more so than the chain that depicts Pharrell with his N.E.R.D bandmates. Estimated to be worth a cool $1 million, the large pendant hangs on a multi-colored chain with each link decked with precious stones.
The chain's creator can be credited with much of the bling obsession in hip-hop, check out our interview with Jacob Arabo and shop our Jacob & Co. collection, which includes a t-shirt dedicated to Pharrell, below.
Shop A Selection From The Jacob & Co. x Highsnobiety Collection
4. T-Pain's Big Ass Chain
Estimated value: $410,000
Can also be used… to strengthen your big ass neck
More expensive than either a small ass chain or a regular-sized chain, T-Pain's Big Ass Chain weighs over 10 lbs and is encrusted with nearly 200 carats worth of diamonds. Although he’s since told Vice that this $400k purchase was "the dumbest shit I ever did in my life," there’s still something rather impressive about the sheer audacity of spending that much money on something so ridiculous. Also, a quick shout out to the guy who dared T-Pain to buy this big ass chain in the first place. He’s got some big ass balls on him, that’s for sure.
3. Kanye West's Horus Chain
Estimated value: $300,000
Can also be used… to resurrect Tutankhamun
Remember when Mr West wore a humongous medallion in the video for “Power?” Sure, that price tag is almost as heavy as the chain itself and it’s pretty bold of Kanye to compare himself with an actual deity, but it also gives off an otherworldly vibe that suited the song perfectly. It’s also rather fitting that this chain would pay homage to an avian god like Horus given the bird-brained antics that Ye has put us through in recent years.
2. Yung Berg’s Transformers Chain
Estimated value: $70,000
Can also be used… as a bad luck charm
Riding high on the success of his single “Sexy Lady”, Yung Berg treated himself to an expensive chain modelled on the robot franchise Transformers, because why the fuck not? However, there’s more to this story than meets the eye because not long after, the chain was stolen from him and new pictures of it started circulating the internet. At one point, it even ended up in the hands of Soulja Boy before making its way back to Yung Berg, only for the chain to then be stolen again by UK rapper Rowdy-T. Perhaps Berg should have just disguised it better like the robots in said franchise.
1. Rick Ross’s Rick Ross Chain
Estimated value: $1,500,000
Can also be used… to buy a small country if melted down and sold for its cash value
Running up a total of over one and a half million dollars, Ross’ chain is not only the most expensive on this list, but it’s also the most ridiculous too. The original piece was literally a replica of Ross’ face, and that alone is worthy of a standing ovation, but then the entrepreneur went one step further and created a bust of himself wearing the piece too in what can only be described as a classic case of chainception.
Want to dive deeper into the history of hip hip jewelry?