Rolex In RapWritten by Alvin Wong
Ch-ch-check it out.
Hip-hop stars love their watches and they are not shy about it. In fact, one’d often find rappers boasting about their horological acquisitions to cutting effect; whether in battle rhymes, or brand-dropping in songs to brag about how well they’ve done for themselves.
And if one were a fan of hip-hop music, you’d have noticed how advanced rappers have gotten in their watch appreciation game. It seems that rappers now think they have elevated tastes, dropping Hublot/ Richard Mille/ Audemars Piguet mentions as if they were an insider’s tip. Case in point: ‘Buller’s got a Muller, but I switched it for a Mille’ goes Kanye West and Jay-Z in Gotta Have It.
But if hip-hop is all about the celebration of the hustle, then what of the biggest – and arguably, first – badge of honour? We are talking about Rolex, of course, the ubiquitous status symbol to crush all status symbols. With influence and stature that extends far beyond the world of hip-hop, a Rolex watch remains the surest proof that one has stepped up in the material game.
So why do we get a nagging feeling Rolex is grossly under-represented in today’s rap music? Given that Rolex is the real OG for every true hustler, we decided to do a little bit of digging and find out if the injustice was as grave as we thought.
While the aforementioned new wave of flamboyant sports luxury brands has certainly taken over of late in terms of quantity, Rolex is still king when it comes to qualitative rhymes.
In fact, Rolex IS THE SONG TITLE for tracks by quite a number of artists, spanning the spectrum of dodgy techno-style tunes to more cerebral tracks that include artists like Iggy Azalea, The-Dream, MellowHype, and Ayo & Teo. We also unearthed numerous prime-spot title shout-outs by the likes of Yukomouth (Rolex Rulez), Wiley (Wearing My Rolex) and Skepta (Rolex Sweep).
For sure, you will always encounter throwaway, bragging lyrics more often than anything else – it is hip-hop, after all – but there some real gems that rise above the rest; songs that range from pure wide-eyed wonder for Rolex, to pensive rumination on the concept of time. In any case, get your cans on and turn up the volume, as we run through some of our favourite Rolex-inspired hip-hop tunes.
Rolex by Ayo & Teo
Two brothers from Michigan get blown away for the first time by the power of Rolex and decided to write a song about it. (“Where we come from, all we know were G-Shocks,” says Ayo.) This Usher-approved trap tune exploded on YouTube when it dropped in 2017, with over 400 million YouTube views to date. It is the sound of youth getting rich for the first time, with Rolex as the symbolic gateway to the high life.
Rolex hook: ‘I just wanna Rolly Rolly Rolly with a dab of ranch / I already got some designer to hold up my pants / I just want some ice on my wrist so I look better when I dance / Have you lookin’ at it, put you in a trance’
For what it’s worth, the boys explain their inspiration.
Rolex by Iggy Azalea
A bonus track off Australian rapper Iggy Azalea’s 2014 debut album The New Classic, Rolex is a heavy tune that counts the costs of time invested in a failed relationship (rumor has it that it was about her breakup with A$AP Rocky.) Here, the luxury watch is employed as an allegory for the value of time – something that all of us maybe need to think about.
Rolex hook: ‘Rolex’s don’t tick tock / But damn it baby, my time costs / And damn it baby, my time is money / So I need payback for all the time lost’
On To The Next One by Jay-Z
Hip-hop’s ultimate (ok, most famous) hustler Jay-Z is known to bust a watch rhyme from time to time, and On To The Next One contains one of his sharpest couplets in the category. On this track where he boasts about always being ahead of the curve, Jay-Z uses the analogy of switching up Rolex models as a symbol of success.
Rolex hook: ‘Came in the Range, hopped out the Lexus / Every year since, I’ve been on that next shot / Traded in a gold for the platinum Rolex / Now a ni**a’s wrist match the status of my records’
Alvin promises not to be a douche when talking about watches. He may have scoured the Basel and Geneva watch fairs for the past 15 years, and played an instrumental role to the growth of Singapore's pioneering horological and men's lifestyle publications, but the intrepid scribe seeks to learn something new with each story he writes.