"my teeth are mind blowin givin' everybody chillz
call me George Foreman cuz' im sellin everybody grillz"
There is a strange new phenomenon attaching itself to the cosmetically lightened and enhanced teeth of suburban white girls everywhere. In much the same way that many of my unfortunate male contemporaries tripped all over themselves (and eventually their pants) in the race to don baggy jeans, the girls have done gone and lost their minds.
I'm talking about the grill. What the fuck? If your name ain't Flava Flav, put the grill down and back away slowly. The shit looked silly on Flava.. but then again Flav ain't really dealin' from a full deck now, is he? Five minutes of watching VH1's The Flavor of Love should inherently prove Flav's Flavor is decidedly sour. So Flav's decision to cover his teeth with a gold plate shouldn't really surprise anyone.
For those delicate souls not In The Know: grills slide over existing teeth and consist of metals and/or precious stones such as platinum and diamonds. Depending on the stone, metal and number of teeth to be fronted, prices can range anywhere from $50 to several thousand. Predecessors to the grill weren't easily removable and involved reshaping the tooth to accommodate a new crown, often in gold, silver or platinum. Now a custom grill requires a dental mold upon which the metal and stones are mounted
Recently, after catching an episode of Flavor Of Love then finding myself too lazy to search the cracks in the couch cushions for the remote, I accidentally caught an episode of The Hogans. In this "reality" show The Hulk's 17 year old daughter is making (surprise!) her debut pop music video. The vid features the (surprise!) tanned, bleached Brooke up in da club, mugging for the camera with (surprise! *note* this surprise is NOT sarcastic) a diamond studded grill?
"What the fuck?" says I. But then I shrugged my shoulders. Surely Brooke will be ridiculed. But then The Girls Next Door came on. You know, the reality show starring Hugh Hef's three girlfriends? I'll be damned if this episode didn't feature his youngest gal gettin' fitted for her grill!
"It's a conspiracy!" I shouted to Max. "VH1 must have stock in a grill shop." He yawned and rolled over. But I was onto something.. Sure enough, just this morning Kelis (her milkshake is better than yours) was thrashing around singing about her grill. And she was wearing one. I wonder if she drinks milkshakes while wearing her grill? I grilled up a burger (all this talk of grills! And milkshakes!) and mused.. It ain't just bleachy haired white chicks. Black, white, pink, whatever. Everybody's grillin' out and I'm not talking about burgers at the beach!
On general principle, I simply can't jump on board. I'm as down with bling as a white girl who doesn't care about jewelry can be. I can even dig nice rims. But a grill? I'll never understand. Ain't nothin' but a glorified retainer, right? Or braces. I spent two years praying to God the next dental visit would be the one Doc Swenson would say we could take those metal bastards outta my mouth The day of removal was a day of great rejoicing. But after a few clicks through Myspace and other sites where the cool kids hang out I discovered the Mary-Kate and Ashley generation is indeed infatuated with the grill. In fact, I found several horrifying pictures of The Kids sporting tin foil on their teeth to replicate grills.. WHAT THE FUCK??!!
I couldn't look away. Actually, like spotting someone picking their nose and eating it, I looked away quickly then took another peek to ascertain if I saw what I thought I did. Turns out, I did.. The gals were still grinning in all their grill glory, smiling joyfully into the camera, tin foil wrapped around their teeth, tiny tween fingers carefully twisted into gangsta celebration! So I grilled up some chicken - all this grill thinking made me hungry again - then got to searching The Internets for the history of the grill. The Flava Flav kind. Not the George Forman kind.
Check it... I discovered two theories describing how the grill came about. In the spirit of good debate and equality for all grills everywhere, I'll share them both.
#1) During slavery, slaves were of course denied quality dental and vision health care plans. However, on rare occasions, slave owners permitted rudimentary dental surgery to be conducted on their chattel. This, of course, was reserved only for the most valuable male slaves, those that an owner could not bear to lose to death caused by infection related to tooth decay. The slaves that received the dental work often had copper, tin, or sometimes bronze fillings for cavities and replacements. The metal in their mouth became a status symbol denoting their value to the master, and their superiority to the average slave, i.e. the more metal, the more importance. Showing one’s shiny “grill” became a way of notifying others (slaves, masters, etc) that you were important, and ultimately not to be messed with.
#2) Hip-Hop artists started grills. There is much speculation as to who was the first rapper to rock a grill. The grillz trend actually began taking shape much earlier- during the early 1980s. Most people credit New York’s Eddie Plein (owner of Eddie’s Gold Teeth) for kicking things off. Plein reportedly outfitted Flava Flav with a set of gold caps, who was eventually followed by a slew of other top New York rappers. Plein then moved to Atlanta and began designing more elaborate (and more expensive) grillz for artists including OutKast, Goodie Mob, Ludacris and Lil Jon. When the south exploded into the forefront of hip hop in the early 2000s, so did the grill phenomenon.
Interesting stuff. So from slaves, to the Mary-Kate and Ashley generation... If that ain't full circle I don't know what is. Point is, I don't care who's wearin' 'em.
Or Flava Flav:
Wal-Mart is certain to jump on the bandwagon.. Mark my words, there will be a grill display on aisle 4 next time you're paying the store a visit. Like leg warmers, grills are one trend I'll be watching from the sidelines. And there will be mocking. Oh yes, there will be mocking.