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Commercial Rap

This may be old news to those of you knee deep in the interweb trenches, but poet-ternt-rapper-ternt-something else Saul Williams recently lent his song “List of Demands (Reparations)” to a Nike commerical. Since then there’s been a whole lot of outrage in the virtual patchouli community. Here is a dizzy video where Saul discusses the issue. Now I may talk a good sell out game, but I find the idea of not going to a concert because of who the artist sells his music to be the most meaningless and self defeating form of ‘activism’ on the planet. Have fun sitting at home, sucker.

But I digress.Let the man get his money. As long as Saul’s not putting Nike drops on his album interludes or getting third world laborers to print his next mixtape cover we’re straight. I mean, he sold out, homie. But get that money. Corporations have had a long time love affair hip hop. It allows the suits to extend their youth and it lets broke rappers get paid. I, however, am more disappointed that Saul merely sold Nike an old record, rather than recording an entirely new song. Thus the Sha Clack Clack Shox rap that was running through my head when I first heard of this ‘scandal’ never came to be. You see, advertising commissioned rap songs are the untold history of hip hop. Until now. Here’s a quick run down of the few I can remember. (Yeah, that’s the real reason for this post. Got you hippies with the ol’ Saul Williams bait-n-switch.)

Every Rapper Ever For St. Ides
Here’s the campaign that started it all. Rapping about St. Ides on radio on TV moved a lot of cheap malt liquor and inspired many a Source editorial throughout the early 90s. The Youtubers got fairly comprehensive with this collection, even if a few are shaky hand cam rips: Biggie, King Tee, Snoop & Pac, Ice Cube & the Geto Boys, another Cube and Dr. Dre. For a split second I thought dude was pouring a ten gallon jug of crooked I on himself in the beginning of the Dre one. There is also a great comp of all the radio spots out there somewhere.

Pete & CL For Sprite
This was a series Sprite ran in the mid 90s with artists like Pete Rock Grand Puba, Large Professor cracking jokes and half freestylng in the studio. They later ‘reissued’ only this Pete & CL one, which is probably the reason it’s the only one on youtube. There was also a KRS/Shan one around the same time, which is untraceable.

Sprite x Voltron x Regional Rap
Sprite loves hip hop. In this later campaign Goodie Mob, Common, Fat Joe and Mack 10 (hey batting .500, works for me) team up to save tha kulture from Voltron (ok?) at the behest of Bambattaa. There was also a later follow up, with a Kung Fu theme where Kool Keith gets a bunch of female rappers to fight… uh… someone. I don’t remember.

Jadakiss for Allen Iverson for Reebok
Reebok was another great corporate sponser for hip hop. Though I’m not sure Jada was the best choice, especially at the height of his diss every Philly rapper campaign. I mean my man Boo Bonic (ayo) was sitting close enough to trip Kucoc! AI could’ve hollered then. Nonetheless, these were kinda hot. A5 Version, A6 Version. Styles also did one for KG, which was slightly less exciting. I think there might have been a few more in the series too.

De La Soul For Lugz

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Past their prime De La push never were good boots. Why is this audio on my hard drive and why isn’t the video on youtube?

Jay-Z & 50 For Reebok
Kind of underwhelming in retrospect. This dropped right before these guys became less rappers and more corporate entities.

Boost Mobile City Behind Us
Dope record, vapid ad campaign. It’s kind of biting the Sprite/Voltron thing, come to think of it. Except without the cartoon space robots. The follow up is just painful. I mean really Mickey Avalon and Jermanie Dupri?

Juelz & Just Blaze for Nike
I think this is the last time I heard Juelz rap. What happened to that guy?

I’m sure I’m forgetting dozens. Refresh my memory. Preferably with Youtube links. Also I want to give a crazy, down syndrome shout to the Burger King DJ.

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