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Wear rap lyrics on your teeth with these 3D-printed ‘grillz’

NYC artist Roopa Vasudevan mapped the word patterns in hip-hop songs to make these gold steel creations

You might not know it from looking at them, but these grills contain some of the biggest hip-hop songs from the past decade. New York-based artist and developer Roopa Vasudevan uses lyrics from rappers like Jay Z, Biggie, Rick Ross and Fat Joe to create Grillz, a series of 3D printed gold steel grills. 

"I've listened to rap music with a critical ear for a while now and one of the most fascinating things is the consistent trope that you aren't 'real' unless you come from a certain type of background," Vasudevan told us. "It's interesting to compare that with lyrical bragging about how you now are able to throw money in the air... Rags to riches stories are certainly prevalent in hip-hop and are something to be celebrated, but I wanted to go further into exploring songs that had a tendency to exaggerate on both sides."

Crunching songs like "Juicy" with algorithmic analysis, Vasudevan paid particular attention to mentions of extreme poverty or excessive dollar bill-throwing wealth. Each reference was scored according to relative distance from words of the opposite polarity, and the resulting topography was processed into a 3D shape and printed into gold steel grills. Think of it as a lyrical landscape for your teeth. 

Grillz made its debut at Brooklyn's Dumbo Arts Festival in September and went on to be exhibited at the Little Berlin gallery in Philadelphia. Vasudevan says she hasn't yet reached out to any of the individual hip-hop stars about her project, but she wouldn't say no if Rick Ross wanted to get a 3D printed grill off her.

"That would definitely be a high point in my artistic career so far," she says. "I'd have to get custom molds and make him a brand new one though, because I can't see him owning anything designed for a 'universal' wearer."

Listen to one of Vasudevan's chosen tracks, "Hustlin'" by Rick Ross, below: