Part of the indoctrination into legendary rap stardom is either getting stuck for your truck jewels, never getting stuck for your chain, or snatching someone’s jewels. Either way, you’re not an official rap god until you enter into some mischievousness concerning one’s chain.
It's more common than you think too. Vibe.com's 2013 list of celebrity victims is a who's who of rap stars. Ball players can get it too. Remember when Knicks player Cleanthony Early was robbed of two gold chains and shot leaving a Queens strip club in December of 2015.
It’s not just the fact that someone violated you and robbed you, which is a crime in itself. A person’s jewels are symbolic of their status and wearing it represents a feeling of monetary strength and superiority depending on the carat and the amount of diamonds dripping and glistening on it and how obnoxious the design is.
When you get your chain snatched, well that’s a direct attack on your manhood to an extent. It’s like someone smacking wifey or kicking your grandma's wheelchair. It’s one of the most symbolically demoralizing and blatant signs of disrespect and dominance that a person can assert.
Usually a rapper or entertainer gets their chain snatched while flossing in another city and the perpetrators circulate the vicious news in the streets and nowadays on social media.
Most victims deny it and say the person made it up. Can’t let the fans know that their super thug rapper was begging for his life as his chain was taken from him in broad daylight in the city. Even if they know that the streets know the real deal, label PR folks usually suggest that they stick to the commercial cover up.
When it happens on national television, however, there is no denying it.
On Sunday Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib summoned his inner 1990's and ripped a gold chain from the neck of Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree. A cultural and visual affirmation that the art of chain snatching is not dead. It’s still going on now. And most of the time it’s done to high profile rappers with big mouths and deep pockets.
Or in this case, diva receivers, trash talking superstars with stats that don’t add up to the money they make or the sh*t they pop.
It happens over and over again to some of these dudes. Richard Sherman already told y’all what the elite corners think of Crabtree in that classic post-game rant that drove Erin Andrews into acting. He said, “You don’t try the best corner in the league with a mediocre receiver like Crabtree. He’s weak.”
Such callous disrespect of another man’s craft is rarely about the money. It’s about the principle. The power to make a celebrity superhero moving with a misconceived notion of invincibility feel vulnerable. Bringing them back to reality.
Why did Talib do it?
Just to get a rep.
“He’s just been wearing that chain all year, man, it’s just been growing on me,” said Talib. “I said, ‘if he wears that chain in front of me, I’m gonna snatch it off.’”
Throughout rap history, especially before Aston Martins and Phantoms became accessible to the black rap star and a part of their everyday vocabulary, the gold chain was the Hummer around ya neck. It represented the freedom of young brothers to wear chains of their choice with the most coveted resource of their native lands and have it represent strength, rather than the restraints of their oppressors.
And your kicks were like the rims on a whip. The opposite of shackles.
Hip-hop culture has permeated almost every aspect of society, especially the major sports entities, and Talib took it back to the essence of gritty, in-your-face, bring the ruckus football. He took it to the streets and introduced corporate America to an aspect of black culture that has significant meaning.
Talib got tired of the fancy that Crabtree was bringing to the field every Sunday. He obviously thought the brother was too clean and football is just too dirty a game. He also must think Crabtree is overrated
That move alone, has elevated Talib to NFL No. 1 gangster cornerback. He’s snatching chains and all that. Sherman talks that talk, but Talib walked that walk on Sunday. Best cornerback attack since Josh Norman said eff it and slugged it out with OBJ midfield on TV.
Even as rap music's overall tone becomes more commercial, the culture of chain snatching in the NFL is alive and kicking.