"Henna Artisans." The Henna Tattoo People. 27 Mar. 2009
In the American culture people get tattoos and piercings for many reasons, to express one's love for someone, to express an idea that is very close to someone's heart, or even just because he likes the look of a piercing or tattoo. Though a piercing can sometimes have significant meaning to a person, it is usually tattoos which are used to express a belief, emotion, or idea. One specific tattoo design that is seen very often in the Hip-Hop culture of America, and on the faces of many prisoners, is the teardrop tattoo. The general design of the tattoo is the same, but slight variations in the way in which the tear is filled in give it very different connotations. Though the meaning of the teardrop has come to represent one murder committed per drop, its actual meanings are quite varied and are not always associated with violence. For the most part the teardrop is a symbol of the loss of a friend, loved one, or, on a man, it can represent the loss of a brother (www.noelboyd.com/2008/03/teardrop-tattoo.html). If the teardrop is just an outline it signifies that either a loved one of the wearer has been killed or that the wearer has attempted murder but was unsuccessful (www.noelboyd.com/2008/03/teardrop-tattoo.html). In the Hip-Hop industry, famous rapper, The Game, wears one of these tears emblazoned opposite his tattoo representing L.A. A teardrop tattoo that is filled in represents either that a loved one has purposefully taken his own life or that a loved one has died in a way other than murder such as a car crash, accidental drug overdose, or death penalty (http://www.noelboyd.com/2008/03/teardrop-tattoo.html). This specific teardrop tattoo is also seen in the Hip-Hop industry on the face of famous rapper Lil' Wayne. The last style in which the teardrop is commonly seen is a tear with only the bottom half filled in but the top half left empty. This style indicates that a loved one of the wearer was murdered but then the wearer took matters into his own hands and killed the murderer.
Boyd, Noel. "The Teardrop Tattoo." Weblog post. A Tattooed Blog by Noel Boyd. Tattoos, Life n' Everything Else! 19 Mar. 2005. 26 Mar. 2009