Directed by Raquel Cepeda. In Association with VH1 and UNDP. Premiered on Vh1 Feb. 22nd 2007
BLING is a feature length documentary that takes a satirical, yet hard-hitting look at how the flashy world of commercial hip-hop has indirectly and ironically supported the diamond conflict in Sierra Leone via hip-hop’s gawky obsession with “blingin’”. The term “bling” refers to the shine emanating from cut, polished diamonds, one that has become a status symbol for hip-hop luminaries and fans alike seeking validation within its materially driven circles. BLING will link the hip-hop generation in the U.S. waith the residents of Sierra Leone in order to experience a community that has suffered atrocities at the hands of genocidal rebels, some as young as 4, from 1991-2001.
Conflict diamonds are diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments. The profitable diamond trade of Sierra Leone, has resulted in a war that has been waged against the civilians of this country, driving them from their homes, forcing them to work as slave laborers, torturing them by cutting off limbs, and forcibly recruiting child soldiers. In BLING, three (3) hip-hop celebrities, Raekwon from Wu-Tang, Paul Wall and Tego Calderon visit Sierra Leone on a peace keeping mission. These hip-hop superstars meet the hip-hop community, refugees, former child soldiers living in Freetown, Sierra Leone, amputee camps and visit various diamond mines. They hear first-hand accounts of the atrocities suffered at the hands of the rebels rape, torture, amputation. The film, also featuring Kanye West, Jadakiss, Big Daddy Kane, Mr. T., and Juelz Santana, captures hip-hop’s reaction to the human violations, and brings global awareness via the youth culture.