The Evolution of the Jesus Piece
Here’s something you don’t get to hear every day, quite surprisingly, religion and Hip Hop share a deeply interlaced history. From Hip Hop artists to the toughest gangster rappers, Christian symbols and figures have appeared in so many music videos, music award ceremonies and on the red carpet.
Next to the crucifix, the Jesus Piece pendant has been seen worn around the necks of today’s generation of artists including Biggie, Jay-Z and Kanye West and not only that even Lebron James is seen donning the Jesus Piece.
West and Arabo Partnership
Kanye West was responsible for the Jesus Piece trend when he collaborated with the renowned Hip Hop Jewelry Jacob Arabo in 2004 when they introduced a collection of religious-themed jewelry pieces.
The remarkable Jesus image showed a crown of thorns surrounding a smooth mane of hair. Jesus was also shown to have compassionate and gentle eyes with a bushy beard. The Jesus Piece has been mentioned in some of Kanye’s songs entitled Selfish and Diamonds from Sierra Leone.
When the iconic Hip Hop artist Kanye West began showing the world the pendant wherever he went other celebrities followed the trend as it represented their faith. However, in true Hip Hop fashion the original Jesus piece was actually ornamented with gemstones and precious metals with a diamond mine and ruby tears that ran down Jesus’ face.
The First Jesus Piece
Even though Jacob and Kanye took most of the credit for having invented the Jesus piece, die-hard Hip Hop enthusiasts say they have seen the same piece slung around the neck of the late Notorious B.I.G in the middle of the 1990s.
If you listen to his rap song “I Love the Dough” and his posthumous album entitled “Life After Death” you’ll hear it mentioned in his lyrics “You seen the Jesus…Even got rocks in the beard and mustache.” It is believed that the original OG designer, Tito, created the Jesus Piece pendant.
Prodigy, D-Roc, Lil Cease and Ghostface were early rap artists who were spotted donning the iconic Jesus Piece pendant created by the New York City jeweler. As a matter of fact, a younger Jay-Z who was seen on the cover of XXL, a Hip Hop magazine in 1999 December, sported a Jesus Piece in gold. Rumor has it that it was the exact same pendant owned by Biggie. When Biggie died his pendant was passed down to his son.
Yet despite all these, majority of the molds you’ll find in the market are actually based on the image created by the collaboration of Jacob and Kanye.
From Chamillionaire to Ja Rule to a throng of Hip Hop fanatics, the iconic Jesus piece has been regarded as a way to share their belief and faith with the rest of the world.
The Materials Used
Originally, the Jesus pendants were made of silver, gold or platinum and they had more than a dozen of diamonds that accented Jesus’ facial features.
It was only recently when the original versions are quite hard to find. At present, Jesus pieces come in wooden and brass versions that are ornamented with authentic cubic zirconia stones.
Through this design, the Jesus piece became less expensive. This explains why the Jesus pendant has increasingly become the most sought-after and in-demand pieces of jewelry in an industry of Hip Hop fashion.
The Jesus pieces pendants come in an array of materials, colors and styles. Some pieces come in a shade of electric pink, gold, silver and caramel brown.
There are those who choose a plated metal piece or a black wooden piece since it not only represents their faith it’s also a symbol of their cultural pride.
The pendant is available in both small and large sizes and more often the pendant is paired with a beaded necklace that has a caged finish or a chunky Franco link chain.
When Kanye debuted the Jesus Piece he was photographed wearing a Jesus Piece designed by none other than Takashi Murakami at a Louise Vuitton event and a BET surprise performance.
Being the bold fashion icon as he is, Kanye is able to pull off several layers of Jesus pieces and gold necklaces hung around his neck in the variety of colors and styles.
Other Jesus Piece-Inspired Items
This famous piece inspired the creation of other jewelry and accessory pieces that have the Jesus image.
Other Jesus Piece-inspired items include a rosary necklace with the head of Jesus dangling at the center or a beaded rosary with a crucifix at the end or the second head of Jesus.
Similar to the original version, the rosary-inspired necklace can be made of either metal or wood.