We've seen this before, where there was some sort of disagreement between a luxury brand and a rapper, and of course it came to be viewed as a race issue.

Back when Jay-Z had his beef with Cristal, it wasn't so much a matter of them saying they didn't want Jay-Z drinking Cristal, or mentioning it in his songs. A guy from the Economist (which I know a lot of hip-hop heads subscribe to) asked the guy from the company that owns Cristal about the fact that it's mentioned so often in rap songs and videos, and the guy was like, "Well, we can't really control who buys our product."

Next thing you know, there's Jay-Z doing paid product placement for Ace of Spades, or whatever that shit is (roffle at the champagne black people are supposed to drink being called Ace of Spades), in the videos from his last couple of albums. It's almost as if Jay-Z planned for the guy from Cristal to say something that could be viewed as racist, so he could convince everyone to switch to some other brand, in which he's got a financial stake. But that wouldn't make sense, now would it? He probably just got lucky.

As a wise man once said, some guys have all the luck, and some guys do nothing but complain. Clearly, Jay-Z is the former, and I'm the latter.

You'd think T.I. might take Gucci and Louis Vuitton barring him from mentioning their brands in the video for his song "Swing Ya Rag" as a similar opportunity, to strike a deal with a rival maker of gaudy leather goods, or at least to dis them for causing him to waste time and money making a video he can't even release, but I guess he figured he's got enough problems.

In the item in this week's Mixtape Monday on the T.I. video, it sounds like they were saying he could have pursued this matter in court, if he wouldn't have spent all of his money having his lawyers set up that special deal where he got off with only a year in jail, despite the fact that he's an umpteen time felon. So instead, he decided to just say fuck it, and shot a video for that Numa Numa song he did with Rihanna.

Which was probably for the best anyway, since I'd imagine girls will like that Rihanna song better than "Swing Ya Rag," and you'd have to think T.I.'s audience pretty much consists entirely of girls at this point. Think about it: That song "Whatever You Like" is currently the best-selling single in the country. How many guys do you really think bought that shit? Maybe a few guys were suckered into buying it for their girlfriends, but that's about it. More guys probably bought the new Ne-Yo album.


The question remains: Are black people gonna have to stop wearing Louis Vuitton? Or was this an isolated incident of a company not wanting their brand to be associated with a guy who didn't have the sense to not build an arsenal in his bedroom closet? If I worked for Louis Vuitton, rather than for a rap magazine website and a low-end retail outlet, I'd advise my tall Israeli benefactors to issue a statement informing black people that their hard-earned dollars are still welcome, on the outside chance that Diddy or somebody tries to get into the premium leather business.

That was where the people from Cristal tripped, in the incident with Jay-Z. If the guy would have just come out the next day and been like, "When we said that we can't stop people from buying our products, what we meant to say is that we have no idea why so many black people drink Cristal. But we're certainly glad that they do!" Though the jury's still out on whether Jay-Z switching to Ace of Spades put so much as a dent in Cristal's sales.

Already, I see my former colleague Sickamore has gone and recontextualized the incident, by taking the excerpt from Mixtape Monday and running it beneath the title, "Louie [sic] To T.I.: U Can Buy Our Stuff But Don't Promote It... Nigger." But you never know with that guy Sickamore. Remember back when he had that ongoing beef with that "Oreo" sportswriter? That got kinda weird, didn't it?

What do you fruits think? Could it be that black people have been throwing away their money on Louis Vuitton for years, and come to find out Louis Vuitton can't stand black people? Or does this not have anything to do with race? If it does, should black people only buy luxury bullshit that's supposedly owned by black people? Or should we give a shit? I'm not gonna lie, the fact that they pwned T.I. kinda adds to the appeal for me. I might have to save up and cop a wallet.