Lil Uzi Vert is one of the most eccentric celebrities around. With his garish hair, face tattoos and loud, colorful clothes, he’s someone who stands out from a crowd. But in early 2021 he went above and beyond his usual outlandish antics by willingly having a pink diamond pierced to his own forehead. The reason he chose to put it there is prime Uzi kookiness.
Uzi released his first EP on January 19, 2014. By August he had already been signed by producer Don Cannon’s The Academy and released his first mixtape. Soon after the release of this mixtape, he was signed to a record deal by Atlantic Records. It was already a meteoric rise for an artist who had only begun experimenting with rap as a teen in 2010.
To date, Uzi has released two full-length albums, both of which went straight to the top of the Billboard 200 chart. Luv Is Rage 2 came out in 2017, while Eternal Atake was unleashed in March 2020. Both releases were met with critical acclaim and only increased Uzi’s mainstream popularity.
An incredibly ambitious man, Uzi told XXL magazine in 2017 that he wanted to be a “Trap rap rockstar.” He didn’t want to be just another rapper; he wanted to be one of the most famous rappers in the world. He said, “I want to be remembered like, ‘He is crazy. He is phenomenal.’ I just want to be one of the biggest.”
To that end, Uzi has cultivated a unique image. He often sports brightly colored hairstyles and wears androgynous clothing. Despite scaling only five feet three inches, his massive personality makes him appear much larger than life. And that is before mentioning his many piercings and tattoos, which also set him apart from many other mainstream stars.
Uzi is covered in tattoos, with many of them taking pride of place on his face. In a 2017 interview with Fader magazine he revealed that he got his first tattoo as a teen. After finding out he had quit his first, and to date only, “real” job at a Bottom Dollar store, his mother told him to leave the family home.
The teenage tearaway responded by getting “Faith” tattooed below his hairline. Uzi revealed, “I had a job for four days. I couldn’t do it. I’m not normal. I was in there just thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?’” To him, the tattoo was a statement of intent. It meant that he couldn’t live a “normal” life, even if he wanted to.
“It was like, if I get this face tattoo, I got to focus,” reasoned Uzi. “I can’t go in nobody’s office with a suit on with this on my face. I got to focus on what I want to do.” Over the subsequent years, he added a lot more ink to his face, rendering that normal life more and more impossible. Many of the tattoos are symbols related to the West African Asante tribe.
However, despite his rise to fame over the past half a decade or so, Uzi has hinted at a dissatisfaction with making music a number of times. During the Fader interview, he said he hated rap. When the interviewer pushed further, asking if he felt cursed because he is so good at making rap music, he agreed.
“You wanna know what the curse is?” Uzi asked. “I gotta take care of my family. That’s the curse right there. I gotta take care of my whole family. That’s why I can’t stop. If I ain’t have to take care of nobody, best believe I’d still be regular.” This rejection of music and a desire to live a normal life came up again two years later during an interview with GQ magazine.
By the time this particular interview was conducted, Uzi had already announced he was quitting the rap game, but then went back on this statement. He told GQ, “I like making music, and I like making people happy, but the music is whatever, bro. I really do it just to make my family happy. Like, it’s just something for my family to talk about.”
When the interviewer asked him why he had threatened to quit, Uzi replied, “I dunno, just how I felt. That’s all.” He was asked if that particular year was hard for him, to which he responded, “I just wanted to be more normal.” However, he then contradicted this humble attitude slightly by hyping his desire to earn enough money to buy a Bugatti supercar.
Indeed, Uzi certainly likes to spend money on things he is passionate about. He did wind up buying a Bugatti, which he paid $1.7 million for, and when he arrived for the GQ interview in question, he had been clothes shopping. In fact, journalist Samuel Hine estimated there was around half a million dollars in value of fashion items in Uzi’s hotel room.
In fact, his interest in fashion seems to outstrip any interest in music. His Instagram account is filled with daily galleries of his outfits, and his fashion sense is as exciting and off-the-wall as his personality. He told GQ, “Honestly, in my heart, I think I do this better than music. Cause the music is effortless. I actually take my time with this.”
Expensive clothes and jewelry that flaunt the wearer’s wealth have always been a part of hip-hop culture. Wearing the most bling chain around the neck has become something of a game of one-upmanship. For instance, Uzi paid $220,000 for a custom Marilyn Manson chain, honoring his favorite rock artist, while Rick Ross paid a mind-boggling $1.5 million for a gold chain with a replica of his own face as the pendant.
On top of tattoos, fashion and fast cars, Uzi has also demonstrated an interest in technology, especially when it intersects with body modification. In February, he tweeted, “Neuralink,” which was a reference to Elon Musk’s company pioneering the creation of computer chips for the brain. This caught the attention of musician Grimes, Musk’s girlfriend.
“Let’s get brain chips,” tweeted Grimes, to which Uzi replied, “I’m ready. When we doing it?” The artist, who has recently been collaborating with Uzi on music, responded, “Let’s aim for chips by 2022. It’s experimental surgery but if it succeeds, we’ll have the knowledge of the Gods haha.” This was all Uzi needed to hear. He replied, “Okay! I will call you for more detail.”
Musk hopes his chips will be able to help cure neurological afflictions, and to that end his company has been conducting animal research. It has reportedly implanted a chip in a pig, to map how body movements are influenced by brain signals. Musk has also made a bizarre claim that an implanted chip is allowing a test monkey to play video games using only its mind.
Speaking of “bizarre,” February 3, 2021, saw Uzi shock the world when he revealed his latest extremely unique body modification on Instagram. He posted a video showing a large pink diamond that had been pierced into his forehead. He captioned the video, “Beauty is pain” and would go on to reveal that the precious stone cost a mind-boggling $24 million.
In fact, the offbeat rapper admitted to a fan on Twitter that the diamond was the priciest thing he has ever bought in his life. When another fan asked him if this meant it was more expensive than his cars, Uzi replied, “Yes, my Bugatti can’t even pay for it. All my cars together, plus home.” He also revealed that the gem is, “Ten, almost 11 carats.”
Pulling the curtain back even further, Uzi revealed he had been paying for the diamond for a number of years. He tweeted, “I’ve been paying for a natural pink diamond from Elliot for years now. This one stone cost so much I’ve been paying for it since 2017. That was the first time I saw a real natural pink diamond.”
In a more alarming tweet, though, Uzi posted a picture of his forehead bleeding due to the diamond implant. He wrote, “If I don’t get it took out the right way, I could die. No, seriously.” Naturally, this worried many of his fans, one of whom tweeted, “Bro, if this is not safe, you better take it off. I don’t want to see you dead.”
Uzi followed up his scary tweet with a new one featuring a photograph in which the bloody mess was nowhere to be seen. He captioned it, “Okay, we good,” and then joked, “I’m literally tryna turn into a diamond.” The insane piercing then went viral, leading to Uzi deleting the picture of his bleeding forehead.
But what would possess someone to get such an expensive, potentially dangerous and, in the opinion of many, absurd piercing? Well, during an Instagram Live interview with rapper Fat Joe, Uzi revealed exactly why he did what he did. And the reason was characteristically amusing, if more than a little embarrassing.
“I’ma be real,” began Uzi. “So I’m picking up the diamond, and we was gonna put it in a ring but, I’ma be honest, I’m Lil Uzi. I’m turnt up. $24 million on a ring is the stupidest idea because I’ma look down and that ring ain’t gon’ be there. I know me. I wake up in odd places and different scenarios.”
So, yes, it does appear that Uzi had the diamond implanted into his forehead because he was worried he would lose it. He then confessed that the forehead hadn’t even been his first choice for positioning, though. Initially, he had wanted it implanted in his cheek, in a similar style to a diamond piercing that fellow rapper Sauce Walka wears.
Unfortunately for Uzi, the diamond was simply too big to go on his cheek. It just wouldn’t hold up properly. He then thought about his forehead, which is an area he already had pierced once before. He said, “I had a piercing a while ago. I said, ‘You know what; I wanna put it right here.’”
Interestingly, Uzi did admit that the jewelers weren’t exactly jumping for joy at the idea. He said, “They like, ‘You wanna put it right there?’ Bro, don’t think it was just a, ‘Come on, let’s go get his money.’ No bro, they argued me down, it’s almost insane to the average person. Or to any person!”
How did the world react to Uzi’s extreme piercing, though? Well, one of the first things pointed out by many fans on social media was how closely it made Uzi resemble The Vision. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Paul Bettany plays the android member of The Avengers, and he is powered by an infinity stone that sits in the middle of his forehead.
A lot of observers questioned the decision, however, and railed against the amount of money he spent on it. Sauce Walka was also distinctly unamused, as he accused Uzi of copying his own cheek implant. He posted, “Keep following the leader,” and, after an expletive-filled diatribe, added, “I know I’m the influence, and you’re the inspiration.”
On February 5, Uzi posted a minute-long audio clip on Twitter addressing the negative reaction in his own inimitable way. He said, “Let me educate y’all real quick, ’cause you know, when you don’t know, you judge. So it automatically puts you in the negative. And I’m not in the negative in any way, shape or form.”
“Y’all talk about my net worth, and my net worth is bigger than – any celebrity can talk about my net worth,” continued Uzi. “It’s bigger than yours. But it’s neither here or there. It’s only a piercing, guys. I done had 10,000 piercings in my face, and when I had piercing in my face last time, y’all was going in on me.”
Uzi concluded his rant with, “And as soon as I make a hit, oh oh oh oh, oh yeah yeah yeah yeah. Relax. That’s why y’all face don’t have nothing on it and that’s why my face have everything I ever wanted to put on there.” As a final mic drop, Uzi added, “Y’all got a lot of nerve.”
The piercing became such a hot-button topic on the internet that Rolling Stone published an interview with Uzi’s jeweler. Simon Babaev spoke for his employer Eliott Eliantte of New York’s Eliantte & Co., a company that specializes in custom jewelry for celebrities. Babaev revealed that Uzi did indeed first approach them in 2017.
Babaev said, “Once he saw the stone, he really fell in love with it and said he’d think about what he wanted to do with it.” When the young rapper said he wanted it implanted in his head, though, they thought he was joking. Babaev revealed, “We didn’t think he was serious about it, but as he started making payments on the specific stone, he made it clear that he was very serious.”
No one had ever asked Eliantte & Co. to pierce their forehead, but according to Babaev, it wasn’t the first time they’d pierced someone’s face. He said, “In the forehead? No, that’s a bit extreme. But just on the face, we’ve done. In 2016 Young Thug had a diamond implanted on his face. He had a pear shape, like a teardrop, I believe.”
Regarding any worries about the safety of the piercing, Babaev was crystal clear. He said, “Yeah, it’s as safe as any other piercing. As long as you maintain it well and have good upkeep, it’s perfectly fine. We made sure that prior to getting anything done that Uzi brought someone in to consult on everything.”
Babaev revealed that Uzi’s piercing was done with precious metals, as opposed to the usual stainless steel used in most piercings. Fittingly for a scenario in which a $24 million diamond was affixed to someone’s body, a new way of doing things had to be invented. Babaev said, “We engineered a specific mounting that clips and locks in place. There’s a whole mechanism involved; it’s not a standard piercing.”
All in all, Babaev felt Uzi’s request was top-tier in terms of extravagant things celebrities have asked Eliantte & Co. to do for them. He also believed it may very well inspire a trend, given Uzi’s fame and influence. He reasoned, “People always want something that no one else has.”
“Uzi himself is a trendsetter,” continued Babaev, “so I wouldn’t be surprised if people out there requested this.” He also wondered if people may try to accomplish their own customized version of the piercing, to emulate the controversial rapper. Babaev laughed, “It’s crazy. Uzi is definitely a trendsetter.”