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Jay-Z vs. apartheid champagne

In case you haven’t heard, Jay-Z is pissed at comments made by the managing director of Louis Roederer Cristal, makers of the ur-swanky Cristal champagne, in the world’s best English-language newsweekly, The Economist.

On you jigs drinking his champagne:

“What can we do?” Rouzaud told The Economist. “We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”

To which Jay-Z responded:

“It has come to my attention that the managing director of Cristal, Frederic Rouzaud views the ‘hip-hop’ culture as “unwelcome attention.” 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.”

Boycotts? Racist? The jig doth protest too much, methinks.

On the one hand, I’m sure he feels like a silly bitch having spent his entire career (even back in his weed carrier days) shouting it out on records and spending god knows how much of his own money on the shit. Indeed Cristal is primarily known as the Champagne drunk by rappers.

From the Wikipedia entry on Cristal:

It is prominently known for being used as a status symbol by rappers, who make frequent reference to it in their music, also calling it “cris” or “crissy”.

Who knows how many of the 50,000 cases imported each year are actually bought by “rappers,” but I doubt Frederic Rouzaud would’ve said that shit if he knew it would cause mofos to switch back to Moet[1]. This was, after all, an interview in The Economist.

I think the Busta Rhymes “Pass the Courvoisier” incident already proved what kind of impact hip-hop can have on alcohol sales. A jig may not be willing to spend $15 on a steak, but he’ll damn sure drop $200 to get “ethered” in a club.

It’ll be interesting to see what Cristal’s response will be, if any, to this boycott and how much of an actual effect this will have on Cristal’s bottom line. The former could end up being contingent on the latter.

Still, it does seem rather naive of Jay-Z to think that Louis Roederer Cristal would give a rat’s ass about the hip-hop community. Damn near any company trying to market a product here in the US is going to take race into account. Quiet as it’s kept, it’s the main reason why radio and TV stations are still split along color lines.

I’m not sure how Cristal’s apartheid champagne policy is any different from McDonalds purposely targeting black communities with its dollar menu, except that McDonalds’ dollar menu actually has a measurable detrimental effect on the black community. You don’t see very many rappers attacking them though, now do you[2]?

The truth of the matter is that if Cristal wasn’t made by and for rich white people, it wouldn’t have held any kind of special cachet for these rappers to begin with. The idea of Jay-Z boycotting Cristal seems about as silly to me as the idea of him championing the shit in the first place.

If he wants to use his fame to make a difference, he should find a better cause.

[1] A lot of times when you see a jig drinking a bottle of Moet, it’s actually Moet White Star, which only costs like $30 a bottle. I bet that’s what Rakim used to drink.

[2] For the record, I love McDonalds. Shit, I just dropped like $6 in that bitch the other day.


Amusingly enough, Cristal was also in the news recently because some thieving bastard used one of those FEMA debit cards to cop a $200 bottle of champagne at a Hooters in Texas somewhere. I’ve heard a few black chicks claim that this is proof that these weren’t black people running these scams because a black dude wouldn’t be attracted to the kind of skanks that work at Hooters.

Um, yeah. Keep telling yourselves that.

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