Friday, June 16, 2006

The Hip-Hop Cristal boycott is on!

Bidness: As Jay-Z cries racism over managing-director's Frédéric Rouzaud comments about the association between hip-hop and the high end champagne. The original comments from the Economist.

Unwelcome attention The reality is rather different, at least in the United States. Today, the most high-profile consumers of Cristal are rap artists, whose taste for swigging bubbly in clubs is less a sign of a refined palate than a passion for a “bling-bling” lifestyle that includes ten-carat diamond studs, chunky gold jewellery, pimped up Caddies and sensuous women. In his number one hit “Hard Knock Life”, Jay-Z raps, “Let’s sip the Cris and get pissy-pissy”. Cristal has been so visible at Mr Combs’s concerts that onlookers have wondered whether the venerable champagne house was sponsoring the event. In fact, the attitude of the house of Roederer to the unexpected popularity of Cristal among rappers is considerably more circumspect. Frédéric Rouzaud, who took over from his father as managing-director of the winery in January, says that Roederer has observed its association with rap with “curiosity and serenity”. But he does not seem entirely serene. Asked if an association between Cristal and the bling lifestyle could actually hurt the brand, he replies: “That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.” Both Dom Pérignon and Krug have had their share of unwelcome attention, too. The late President Mobutu of Zaire, a notoriously profligate dictator, was said to be a devotee of Dom Pérignon’s rosé champagne. Naturally enough, Rémi Krug, the chairman of the champagne house, prefers to emphasise the more cultured devotees of Krug—drinkers, like the late Ernest Hemingway or the painter Francis Bacon, who are “creative individualists who never follow the crowd, and have strong tastes of their own.
That set Jay-Z off.
The comments left a bad taste in Jay-Z's mouth. The rapper said he would pull Cristal from his small chain of popular sports lounges -- where bottles of Cristal sell for $450 (€357) and $600 (€476) -- as well as from his personal flutes. "It has come to my attention that the managing director of Cristal, Frederic Rouzaud views the 'hip-hop' culture as 'unwelcome attention,"' Jay-Z said in a statement released Wednesday. "I view his comments as racist and will no longer support any of his products through any of my various brands including The 40/40 Club nor in my personal life." Jay-Z plans to replace Cristal -- which a club spokesman said it could never stock enough of -- with Krug and Dom Perignon at the Manhattan and Atlantic City locations of his 40/40 Club. (There are plans for clubs in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong, according to the club's Web site.) Rouzaud did not return a message seeking comment. But it was the writer of the article, and not Rouzaud, who used the phrase "unwelcome attention." After Rouzaud's comments about Dom Perignon and Krug, scribe Gideon Rachman wrote: "Both Dom Perignon and Krug have had their share of unwelcome attention, too." Still, Jay-Z spokesman Ron Berkowitz said his client remains offended. "They're trying to distance themselves from the hip-hop community," Berkowitz said. "The hip-hop world certainly helped elevate the presence of Cristal. At the end of the day isn't the goal for any company to sell bottles?"
Yes it is the goal, but if the guy feels its image is being hurt by being associated with hip-hop(going by the way the writer set up the question and the answer)how is that racist? In case Jay-Z and others don't realize it, Hip-Hop for the most part has a horrible reputation/image. They are selling a high end product that over time could get harmed by it while hip hop moves on to the next product to tout. I don't see they were hurting for business before being spoken of by Biggie
Introduce me to playa haters and heavy weighters Rich bitch shit, drinkin Cristal til they piss the shit, uhh
or by Jay-Z.
"Imaginary Player" Yeah I mean like I gotta be like the pioneer to this shit, you know I was popping that Cristal when all y'all niggaz thought it was beer and shit, you know Wearing that platinum shit
Just an aside, who wouldn't want their products used like that lyrically? In an earlier interview with the Daily Telegraph who went thru the history of Cristal, Rouzaud had this to say about celebs.
For more than 100 years Cristal has been the champagne of choice among oeno-philes but today it is also de rigueur in the culture of ostentatious wealth. Rap stars such as Puff Daddy and Ms Dynamite would not be seen without it; 100 cases were ordered for Christina Aguilera's wedding last November and $2m worth was on hand for the after-parties at the Golden Globe Awards in January. The new Russian oligarchs demand it when they decamp to the Alps for the ski season and Premiership footballers flaunt it. Does it worry Frédéric, a quiet, thoughful man who says his greatest perk is his wife and two young children, that his most prominent customers are celebrities? "They are only a small percentage of our total market. They get the most publicity but I admire their taste," he says wryly. "If they want to pay for Cristal, they can have it. Why not?"
They are probably not going to be hurting business-wise over this. But I do object for Jay-Z pulling the race card, hip-hop doesn't define or mean exclusively black people. They have a problem with the hip-hop image which I don't blame the guy for expressing a bit of discontent about it. But until I see a true racist statement, Jay-z overreacted.

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