They are almost impossible to avoid. They creep up on you at stoplights. They are on TV, in the schools, the drive-thru, the driving range. They are in your neighbor's garage. They are everywhere. They are rims.
Yes, of course, you have to have rims in order to have a tire, but I'm talking about wheels--those flashy, shiny metal attention-magnets that fill the road up as they gracefully ride inside tires. Who's to blame for the invasion of the shiny wheels? Well good ol' hip hop.
"What did it, the 'Whip(car) Appeal', or my Baby face?" Asks rapper Clipse in the song "When the Last Time."
Well the dimples add a li'l, but we're pretty sure it's yer dubs (20-inch rims)! There is nothing humble about the multibillion dollar industry of rims. What was a multimillion-dollar industry has a friend in hip hop since the music has made many auto owners believe that having chrome is "the proper thing," says Kimmy Satterfield, one of the owner's of S & S Tires and Tune in Durham. Kimmy tells me that the rim phenomenon is really spreading to just about everybody, especially since prices are going down, making the accessory more accessible. Well, the smaller sizes (like teens) have gone down in price, but who really cares about teens anymore.
"I ride 20-inch rims when I lean, yo (Hey yo, them tens, nigga) I know, I keep 'em clean though," giggles Eric Sermon in the song "React." It's an almost common punchline in hip hop, to clown on yer size, but Ima let you know--his Benz is sharp and I have no idea what size his rims are. I can't tell, but I have been told that my car could get 20s; I would have to get real low profile tires, yup.
Which leads into the question many of you (mostly those who barely understand me) are wondering now. Why I would get 20s or any size chrome for that matter. Why do heads get wheels?
The same reason your husband got Cragers back in the day.
"To get girls," jokes Kimmy.
"To boost egos," says Chris Joy, owner of Enjoy Automotive in Durham. "Everybody wants to be different," Chris says. Rims are a way of displaying one's attitude--expressing oneself with out talking. OK, Chris, but what about safety advantages? Are there any?
Yes. Since you have to get high performance tires with rims, you're gonna get better handling (especially on rainy days like last week). Oh, and as I have also learned--the low pro tires tend to keep closer contact to the road as well. But there is a downside--the ride isn't that smooth. Oh well, a bump here and a bump there never hurt anyone.
The hottest wheels at the moment almost weren't. Spinning wheels, which keep spinning even when the auto is stopped, were almost banned because people were concerned that the spinners would cause accidents at stoplights by confusing folks. I would have thought they'd cause accidents because the other driver would be too busy looking at the wheels. Ever see a truck do the moonwalk? Well that's what happens when ya go in reverse. Holler back!
The spin daddy is Knicks' baller Latrell "(SPREWELL!) Look like they runnin' away." Which is a description of Sprewell's wheels given by rapper Choppa in the 504 Boys' song "Tight Whips" (sharp cars). But if ya not feelin' the Knicks (and who is) you can always floss Chris' faves, the Zab Judahs by Omega. Chris will tell ya that the rapper/boxer's rims make heads spin (no pun intended). And speaking of big puns, Fat Joe will be a proud poppa of his own Omega 24s. These diamond-studded babies are due early next spring.
Oh shit, I totally forgot, I am a hip-hop writer ... so for you latecomers ... The wheel world wouldn't be half the size it is now if it wasn't for good ol' hip hop. I have been saying that for a minute, but from videos to shows to da 5-0-fos, wheel let you suckas knows that "We Roll Tight Whips Everyday!"
Hip hop yet again has influenced the masses. Chris calls hip hop "the salesman you never have to pay." Just like the supa star success of the Cadillac Escalade. Studies show that hip hop is responsible for the Escalade's increase in sales. So much so that you don't even have to go anywhere to get "rim jobs," you can get custom wheels right off the lot now a days.
"It's nothing to get custom wheels" says Chris who does a lot of "after market wheels" for local dealerships like Thompson Cadillac and Performance Chevrolet.
Escalades, Tahoes and other American SUVs are the most common vehicles that Enjoy works on. S&S, on the other hand, (which does a lot of tire work for Enjoy), sees more Hondas (another counterculture in itself! Dig up
www.importtuner.com) ... But, Ima let ya know--if you wanna reach that baller status like the hip-hop videos and yer game ain't tight, get ya some dubs, cop some subs--and just sit back in a bubbly tub ... because you know honeys will jump in.
Oh, hold up. The misses might make a splash jus to show you up. What once was mainly a "bad boy" scrimmage, Cragers with a few Daisy Dukes, is a professional coed sport (the ladies wanna floss also). And they are alongside the boys, like star-filled Team Baurtwell (www.teambaurtwell.com). With celebrity credibility, Team Baurtwell's car show (developed by Funkmaster Flex) might overwhelm ya, it's "weal crazy, doc." But Flex doesn't just flex shoes (Lugz) and shows, he has even got his "own line of hi-octane automotive accessories." (Yet another hip hop/car collab.) And where might one find these accessories? Well SEMA (www.sema.org) is a good start. Specialty Equipment Market Association has an annual show where companies and industry heads come together to see new products. This year it was in Vegas with over 1,500 companies "exhibiting product," the biggest to date.
Chris, fresh back from Nevada, told me about the prototype 28s he saw! That shit is just bonkers; of course only the Hummer H2Os are really able to handle the size, but Chris also mentioned new lift kits that will help fit larger sizes on autos that maybe wouldn't be able to take more size.
"You see the Bentley got the 20-inch chrome, Ya heard me?" (from the song "U Heard Me" by rapper 50 Cent). Yes 50, we hear ya, but we are a little worried. The thing is, with all the rappers getting rims and with a name like 50, while new 28s are coming out along with lift kits, is 50 gonna father the first 50-inch spinnas? Let's hope for all the 4 footers on the road that 50 Cent's first wheel deal only makes a buck! Ya know, ya never know, but until we find out, take an elegantese's simple, parting shout--"Rides & Rims" (Mass Appeal), and "You only look as good as your car" (www.mistercartoon.com).