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Who are the jewelers and creatives that made grillz fashionable?

A wise man once said, “Take care of your teeth, it is the first thing that people will notice!” Now, we cannot control the smile God gives us, but we can control our hygiene. A great smile is catchy, captivating, and contagious. And grillz only accentuate all three of these factors!

For those residing in the same place as Patrick Star, a grill is a teeth decoration that covers the bottom half, top half, or the entirety of one’s teeth.

“We like them boys that be in the ‘Lac’s leanin – Open their mouth they grill gleamin'”

Soldier – Destiny’s Child

Nelly made the term extremely popular in 2005 with his bouncy song, “Grillz” feat. Paul Wall that sampled Destiny’s Child and MC Shan. I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the originators of rocking Grillz – Slick Rick and Flava Flav. 

With that, let’s get into some of the most notorious jewelers and creatives behind grillz of all time.

Eddie Plein’s gold grillz

Eddie Plein‘s gold grillz fit like a glove. If it ain’t 22’s, it ain’t worth a damn, son.

And that’s word to Christopher “Big Black” Boykin!

Gold Teeth Eddie (Credit: Patta)

Plein’s humble beginnings saw him open up shop on 169th Street in Hillside, Queens. Eddie was a man of many talents and got his first grill after breaking a tooth on the Surinam Trie fish back in ‘83.

This man flipped the script on the grillz game over in money-making Queens. He served the most fly clientele such as 50 Cent, Andre 3000, Flava Flav, Kool G Rap, and Big Daddy Kane.

Plein’s disdain for the “mail-order gold” jewelers and business-savvy decisions ultimately drove him away from the game after garnering significant funds in the process.

His thoughts on permanents were that they had to be 22 carats or more. Anything less is unacceptable.

“Mouth shining, Eddie gold caps all up in the dental.”

(Nas, A Queens Story)

Johnny Dang

The name Johnny Dang is synonymous with grillz fashion. He conducted business with Paul Wall and skyrocketed to become the integral grill master that he is today.

It is impossible to discuss the grillz industry without bringing up the name Johnny Dang.

At a young age, he took notice of the disparity between the amount and size of jewelry in America versus his home country, Vietnam.

He fine-tuned his process by utilizing the advancements in technology and strong technical skills that America had to offer.

Johnny Dang flashes Rose Gold grillz (Credit: TvJohnny.Net)

He changed the game by innovating grillz that could be inserted without filing or affecting the teeth in any permanent way.

He linked up with Paul Wall and took off from there as both entrepreneurs had a very strategic gameplan on how to get every American mouth shining.

His main takeaway from the industry is compassion, as he treats every person just how they deserve to be – as a person, not as an opportunity to make a quick buck. 

Other creatives who sparked the flame

Not everyone makes it to the main stage, but if they sparked the flame that blossomed the trend, they deserve flowers too.

It is always a good idea to trace any trend back to its roots. This brings us to Houston artist Thurston Slaughter, who made his debut into the rap game on 8Ball & MJG’s album, “Outside Looking In,” back in 1994.

His career did not see nearly the amount of success that Mike Jones, Paul Wall, or Nelly saw. Regardless, it is clear that his “Suave House Records” style influenced “Swisher House Records” artists such as Paul Wall and OG Ron C.

Thurston helped Paul Wall learn how to design and mold grills and set up his first temporary Grillz shop in Houston [1996]. Shortly thereafter, Paul Wall launched his own grillz enterprise in Houston’s Sharpstown Mall.

Nowadays, grillz are surging in popularity, once again. Along with tooth gems, any dental decoration can be seen as a way to look more “edgy and extravagant.”

No matter what you do, please do not try to DIY with grillz or tooth gem. Make sure you put your molars in the trusted hands of a dentist professional to ensure prosperous flossing.

Are Lil Baby and Gunna this generation’s Outkast? No, but they’re close

As fans and consumers of music, we absolutely cannot help but compare artists to one another. Much like sports fans, we’ll debate, dissect and cross-examine our favorites just because they’re good, regardless of genre or subjectivity of craft.

It’s mostly fun, sometimes out of pocket, but can be interesting.

Last week (Nov. 26), in an interview with Nessa of Hot 97, Lil Baby and Gunna were brought up in one of these hypotheticals. This time, however, in comparison to possibly the most legendary hip-hop duo of all-time: Outkast.

Halfway into the segment, Nessa informs Lil Baby that there have been talks online agreeing that he and Gunna have an “OutKast vibe.” She went on to explain how the clash of their styles outside of the booth, yet symmetry in, is similar to how Big Boi and Andre 3000 were during their hay day. Lil Baby responded saying,

“That’s a great title, I never heard of that though. I can see where that would come from.”

Up until that point, the Street Gossip rapper and Gunna had a string of collaborations together and even released a joint studio album, Drip Harder, which landed at the No. 4 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

There’s no wonder why people started associating them with the best tandem in history — everything they touch goes up and their chemistry is unmistakable.

Their back-and-forth on “Life Goes On” (feat. Lil Uzi Vert) which appeared on Baby’s Harder Than Ever spent six weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Their single “Oh Ok” featuring Young Thug is well over 37 million views on YouTube and their contributions on Young Thug’s “Chanel (Go Get It),” was one of the brightest spots on Thugger’s Slime Language. 

Lil Baby’s Street Gossip, which dropped last week (Nov 30), featured the latest of the magic they cook up on the single, “Ready,” and of course, didn’t disappoint.

The frequency of their collabs and the consistency in which they slap may have you searching for the best thing since, but I think we should pump the breaks when comparing them to the legends Andre 3000 and Big Boi.

Since breaking onto to scene with Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik in 1994, the duo from Atlanta not only went platinum from the jump but changed the landscape of hip-hop forever.

While tempting, the reason why the comparison between Lil Baby and Gunna to Big Boi and Andre 3000 is a false equivalency is that they both operate and offer completely different things. Lil Baby and Gunna have the same exact flow package.

The appeal of hearing them together is the trading of bars. “Sold Out Dates” is a perfect example. The potential Song of the Year candidate give you one artist after another and unless you can distinguish the difference in their voices you’d never know who was who.

What makes them so raw is that they, when it seems like there’s no possible way, continually to one-up each other. Their trade-off is seamless and is the secret to their chemistry.

Big Boy and Andre 3000, on the other hand, play off of each other rather than synchronize their sounds. While they too can go back and forth in an array of bars, they compliment the difference in each other’s styles instead.

Arguably one their best works as a group, “Ms. Jackson,” for example, features Andre 3000 leading the chorus, melodies and keeping the groove of the song together with Big Boi providing the narrative via scorching sixteens.

Three stacks got a verse in, but mainly one provides what the other doesn’t. For the most part, you’re getting much of the same content with both Lil Baby and Gunna.

Gunna and Lil Baby, however, do belong in the conversation of greatest duos simply off their success rate. You’d be hard-pressed to find more than one collaboration they have together that wasn’t at least digestible.

Alongside Wiz & Curren$y, G Herbo & Lil Bibby, and maybe even a Drake & Future, two young guns from Atlanta have proven in a short period of time that they’re a force to be reckoned with.

They’re not quite Outkast yet, but with growth like this, who knows what their ceiling is going to be?

Andre 3000 talks social anxiety, sex, Big Boi being better rapper in interview

Andre 3000 had a thoughtful, compelling conversation with Will Welch for GQ Style, touching on the rapper’s move to New York, his battles with social anxiety, sex, the best rapper in OutKast, and the new generation of rappers.

It’s an expansive interview, and Andre also talks about parenting, celebrity, and realizing his mom was an actual person. 3 Stacks also alludes to some possible new music, comparing himself to Floyd Mayweather, saying he might have a couple more bouts left, “I think I have, like, maybe two more Mayweather fights… Or maybe one.”

While we all need a new Andre 3000 (or OutKast) project, Andre Benjamin was put on earth to deliver his wisdom to the masses. Let’s peep some of his choice quotes from the GQ Style interview.

On moving to New York

Andre recently moved from Atlanta to New York City because, like many NYC transplants, he was feeling stuck at home.

“I guess why most people move to New York City: a change, a new start. My kid went off to college, and my parents died—both of ’em within the last six years. I was like, I’ve kinda outlived Atlanta. It’s not like I go to the studio—I’m just sitting around wasting time and doing stuff I’m not supposed to be doing.”

Anyone that’s moved from their hometown to NYC knows this feeling.

Andre also loves being on the New York streets and facing people constantly has helped him deal with his social anxiety,

“I love the New York streets. I love walking, I love not having a car. It’s so dope. Part of my therapy—they call it cognitive therapy. It’s basically just another word for face that shit.”

On social anxiety

That social anxiety (although he doesn’t outright call it that) popped up when OutKast was first getting big and Andre had a hard time dealing with his newfound celebrity and being in the public eye.

“Yeah, that was part of my reason for coming [to New York]. I was diagnosed with this social thing. I didn’t notice it until I became an entertainer. I don’t know if it’s the shock of all kind of people coming up to you, or the expectations, but I got to this place where it was hard for me to be in public without feeling watched or really nervous.”

Andre said he first started noticing his anxiety during the recording of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2003 and he told Welch about isolating himself from friends and fans as a coping mechanism.

“Before that album [Speakerboxxx/The Love Below], I moved to California. It started a little bit before then, and I just chucked it off as Aw, yeah, man, I just need to take a break. And I started to notice it getting worse and worse. Because the more you run from it, the worse it gets. You don’t want to explain it, because you don’t want to be a weak link around your friends. I never told my crew for a long time, so I just started getting to myself. Spending more time with myself and stopped touring. And it felt great for me to do that, because it’s like, Phew, I don’t like that life, I don’t like that confrontation.”

On writing about sex

Andre has always has this image of being ‘holier than thou’ due to his clean vegan diet that he maintained for 15 years (until recently). But that perception isn’t the reality, and he’s had some pretty ‘raw sex raps’ as Welch pointed out.

How does Andre balance his spirituality and sexuality? “We’re human. I try to find the goodness in the world and like, you know, I mean, even Jesus—Jesus had to get a little bit, you know what I mean?”

Besides being possibly the greatest quote of all-time, Andre makes an interesting point about sexuality and also wanting to be a good person for yourself and others. These two things are not mutually exclusive.

“I mean, I hate to say it like this, but Martin Luther King, he was out there, you know what I mean? Just because you have a natural urge and you follow it, it doesn’t mean that you can’t want the best for people and the best for yourself. And now, to be honest, when I write about sex, it’s more like: I’m on a time clock. I’m getting older, so you want to get it all in.”

Martin Luther King was indeed out here.

On his partner Big Boi

Andre is often presented as the cerebral member of OutKast whereas Big Boi is thought of as the more ‘street’ of the two. Most of this is just bullshit due to their different musical styles, the media narrative isn’t the reality at all.

3 Stacks had nothing but love and admiration for the way Big Boi handled himself in the industry.

“I can say, man, my partner, Big Boi, has always been on it. He’s sharp. He always knew the right decisions. He got into a real relationship really early. Right before our second album, he had a kid, and he and the girl stayed together, and they’re married now. I did the opposite. I’m all over the place. I never went on real dates. I don’t want to meet anybody’s parents. Like, I’m a fucking rapper.”

To that end, Andre dropped out of high school in 11th grade… Big Boi graduated honors.

“Big Boi is smart as fuck. We went to the same high school. I dropped out in 11th grade. Big Boi graduated with honors. When you watch early OutKast videos, Big Boi’s the leader. He always had the confidence, where I was kind of like the shy one.

He also claimed that Big Boi can rap better than him.

Big Boi can rap better than me—I always said that. If somebody said, “Pick who you want from OutKast to go to battle with you,” it wouldn’t be me. ’Cause like, what I’ma do? Say some mind shit? You can’t have thoughts in a battle—nobody gives a shit about that.”

Big Boi is definitely more of the prototypical ‘battle rapper’ but ultimately comparing the two is a fool’s errand. What makes OutKast so successful is the contrast in styles between Big Boi and Andre.

On the new generation of rappers

You already know every interview with an ‘old head’ in hip-hop has to eventually address the new generation of rappers. Instead of getting all crotchety about the new school rappers taking over, Andre actually feels inspired by them.

“I hate going to the studio. So what’s got me going once again is me being excited about other artists. I’ve been working on producing a few artists. A couple projects.”

But when working with these new kids, Andre 3000 claimed that it kinda just makes him feel old.

“Here’s the crazy thing: I don’t have the pulse anymore. Rhythms change every generation. The intensity and the drums change. And I’m not on the pulse. I can’t pretend. It’s kinda like watching your uncle dance. So the only thing I can do is this kind of novelty, off thing for them… That’s what hip-hop is all about. It’s a new-kids’ art.”

Andre went on to explain his feelings that hip-hop is about freshness.

“For me, hip-hop is about freshness. You can always hop, but you won’t always be hip. At a certain point, you just won’t. And this is how I know: All the people I grew up with, none of them, not a one, is thriving. Not a one. So that tells me something. I gotta watch that, as someone that’s come in the game and has loved these guys. I mean, loved them. Loved them. But the potency just moves on.”

Man, Andre 3000 is a damn hip-hop philosopher. We couldn’t be any more desperate for the alleged one or two ‘Mayweather fights’ he has in him.

Shoutout Andre 3000 forever.

Andre 3000 will star in sci-fi film about convicts going to space

Andre 3000 may not be making new music anytime soon, but he will be starring in a new sci-fi drama where criminals go on a perilous space mission.

The Outkast star has been tapped up to appear alongside Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, and Mia Goth in the film High Life.

According to Variety, the plot of High Life is a little out there,

“The film revolves around convicts who reduce their time behind bars in exchange for embarking on a dangerous mission to a black hole.”

Seems like a pretty interesting concept.

High Life is the English language debut of French director Claire Denis, known for her films 35 Shots of Rum and White Material.

While it’s cool and all to see 3 Stacks starring in films about convicts investigating black holes, we really just want a new Outkast album.

Andre 3000 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Unfortunately, that’s looking less and less likely.

Back in August, Andre 3000 spoke to Complex about how he views rapping as a hobby and that he doesn’t have the same drive to do what he used to,

“It’s really just an excitement thing, and where I am in life. I kind of like not being a part of [rap], now that I’ve done it. As I get older, I start to see myself move more back from it—the hustle and bustle of putting out an album, the pressure of being in the studio trying to come up with something. Now it’s more like a hobby for me, so I don’t think about it in that way.”

Andre went on to say he doesn’t want to be one of those old ass rappers in a young person’s game,

“Even with Outkast — if we never do another album, I’m totally fine with that. When I was 25, I said I don’t want to be a 30-year-old rapper. I’m 42 now, and I feel more and more that way. Do I really want to be 50 years old up there doing that? When I watch other rappers that are my age I commend them, but I just wonder where the inspiration is coming from. At this stage I’m really more focused on what I am going to be doing 10 years from now. And I hope to God it won’t be rapping.”

That’s pretty sad, but I suppose it’s fair enough.

It’ll be interesting to see Andre 3000 next to actors like Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche in what sounds like a pretty radical concept.

Excited Andre 3000 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Pattinson recently appeared in the crime-drama Good Time, scored by Oneohtrix Point Never.