Having an iced grill is a status symbol, a clear-cut message to all onlookers that not only do you have enough money to buy ostentatious jewelry, you have enough money to plaster that shit all over your teeth. While we typically think of it as exclusively the purview of rappers, a new video from National Geographic explores its larger cultural roots, dating the practice back several thousand years.
The big take-away: it has generally always been used as a show of wealth rather than some sort of alternative utilitarian purpose. Interestingly enough, it became popular within hip-hop because of a utilitarian reason—gold was a cheap way to fill cavities—which was then repurposed as an act of empowerment. In the interest of keeping the video short, they gloss over a ton of history; Vice has written a more comprehensive history of grills, if you’d like something meatier to chew on.
The other big takeaway: Paul Wall lost a lot of weight! That probably required a whole new wardrobe. The grills presumably still fit.