Erykah Badu Jazzshoots
Grillz are a symbol of wealth and power in Hip Hop. You’ve seen them on our very own sweetheart Vashtie. They can cover the entire row of teeth, and others cover one or two teeth, and some even place a bar in front of their bottom or top row of teeth adorned with diamonds and jewels. Brooklyn creator and polymath Danielle “Jazz” Noel honed in on this accessory and uncovered some hidden truths about the traditions of grillz.
A$AP Ferg Jazzshoots
Currently, the grill is a staple for young rappers to have the “look,” similar to dyed hair and tattoos. However, grillz are older than we think they are. They date back to 2,500 BC in GIZA. The Mayan people put jewels directly into their teeth very similar to Lil Wayne, who had his permanently placed in 2011. Jazz decided to document this bling trend and caught photos of notable figures such as Erykah Badu, Jay Z, A$AP ROCKY and others showing off their bling. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Jazz shot these photos while documenting music festivals. After four years she had hella photos of artists in Grillz.
“When I began shooting the project, I was on assignment to photographically document music festivals across the country. While in Atlanta, I noticed a plethora of full mouth grillz. Being from New York and of West Indian descent, I was more accustom to seeing gold and silver caps. So while at the festival, I decided to start a photo series capturing the grillz of Atlanta.” – Jazz
The Grillz series is striking because of the natural feeling that eludes from the photos. Jazz successfully curated images of well-known musicians and locals alike which implement the importance of grillz. This symbol is used to portray the significance of an array of people. No matter the number of people with grillz you can always do something different to express your personality and style.
Jazz received a public health degree from Colombia University found out some of these people with grillz actual wear them because of tooth decay.
“Being a public health student, I developed the photo series into a photo voice project … What I learned was that there was a correlation between the wearing of grillz and caps, and dental hygiene and insurance coverage among Black Americans and people of the diaspora.” – Jazz
The series focuses on the grill itself and how they become a map to understanding the wearer. You find yourself asking questions on the style decisions and how they correlate to the wearer’s personality. Grillz are not just for celebrities. They bring spice to anyone’s aesthetic. They can range from $30 to $100,000 depending on your budget. Jazz successfully portrayed the importance of mouth jewelry and glued together Hip Hop and Health. Find out more about Jazz’s work and her multi-use studio in Brooklyn at Jazzshoots.com