For some years now, I think we can all say that rappers have the biggest influence on the urban youth. Corporate America has realized that these guys can help take their brand to the next level. I think that the success of Jay-Z using every angle and industry to brand himself, including alcohol, clothing, sneakers, a sports club, a basketball team and its’ venue, a video game soundtrack most recently, and a few more that not many may even know he is behind, has opened a lot of artists eyes to allow them to see the bigger picture.
Once upon a time, it was just about being a good rapper and trying to get rich off of that. Now, rappers are starting to realize that the game changes so much, that they may be here today and gone tomorrow.
D”USSE Cognac recently had a release party at club Liv in Miami hosted by Hov himself. D’USSE is a joint venture between Jay-Z and party favorite Bacardi. Jay is certainly no stranger to the alcohol industry. He started off rapping about Cristal back in his earlier years, until they made their point of view on hip hop culture clear that they didn’t want any part of it. Since then, he publically said that he would not sell Cristal in any of his venues and stopped speaking of it in his rhymes. Armadale, which was a brand started by him and his former Rocafella Records business partner Damon Dash, has since diminished and Ace of Space has become the new “it” drink shouted out in every rappers lyrics as the go to brand of champagne.
There have been many other rappers with liquor ventures under their belt. Some of them still living on and successful, others fell victim to the times or the artists relevance. The most successful one as we all know, would be Diddy’s brand of Ciroc vodka. Ciroc is enjoyed and praised by every rapper, and used as a status claim in the club. It’s been out since 2001, and is still the go to vodka for our culture. Conjure cognac, was born in 2009 and is co- owned by rapper/actor Ludacris. His former rival T.I. signed on to promote Remy Martin in 2010. In 2008, Snoop Dogg partnered up with Landy cognac for a marketing campaign, and also partnered with Volt 45 to create their own energy drink “Blast.” Though we haven’t heard either name shouted out too much.
Snoops mentor Dr. Dre even came out with Aftermath cognac, and later on Aftermath vodka. Cognac has seemed to be making a comeback in recent years. From 2007-2008, there were 51.7 million bottles of cognac imported into the states, 60% of it was consumed by African Americans (31.2 million bottles.) Also, from 2002-2003, there was a 19% spike in Courvoisier which has been widely accredited to Diddy, Pharrell, and Busta from their hit single “Pass the Courvoisier.” Speaking of Pharrell, he has even tapped into the market with his own brand of liqueur called Qream, which was created to celebrate independent and sophisticated women, and comes in a classy perfume like bottle. In the early 2000’s during the Dipset era, the crew flashed their popular Sizzurp alcohol which was based on the at the time popular drink “lean,” but that has since faded away. Pitbull even tapped into the market, creating the first line of low calorie fruit and fusion flavored vodka called Voli. Lil Jon went as far as buying his own vineyard and creating his own line of wine “Little Johnathan Winery.”
There is no doubt that as artists become bigger and more successful, they will undoubtedly attempt to tap into the alcohol market. Lets just hope that they promote drinking responsible as much as they do their own brand.