Inmates whom were raped in prison were sometime forcibly tatted with teardrops to inform other prisoners that they belonged to someone, as those inmates were released, they found it difficult to tell their peers and family what took place, thus they resorted to the lie that they tatted themselves to indicate the number of individuals they murdered. Though that was a lie, it was somewhat true, since prisoners often rape other prisoners to take their manhood, which in some way could be seen as the death of a man.
As those lies spread, people started accepting the false definition for teardrop tattoos which led to criminals in the streets tatting themselves up with teardrops to indicate they were murders. As time passed, people started using teardrop tattoos to indicate other things such as how many friends of theirs that passed as well as other things.
There are multiple types of the teardrop tattoo; the teardrop can be solid, half-filled, or empty. Which teardrop is used depends on what the teardrop represents.
Teardrop tattoos were only used by criminals especially gang members, but in the early 2000s, numerous Hip Hop artists started getting teardrop tattoos such as Game, Lil Wayne, and Birdman, thus came the trend. Now some people see getting teardrop tattoo because it has this cool edge to it.
In 2014, a criminal named Jeremy Meeks, whom became famous in the news because he was adored by females, surged interest in teardrop tattoos because he had one on his face in his mug shot.