Breaking Ad: When Hip-Hop First Went Corporate

Kyle Coward | The Atlantic
Apr 21 2015, 7:45 AM ET

hip hop in commercial adsFirst up is the Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man rapping over a minor-key piano sample atop a classic East Coast boom-bap beat, climaxing with a roar and proclaiming that he likes to wet his whistle with a 40-ounce. The camera pans past Ol’ Dirty Bastard with a lady on his lap, and the mic is thrown to Raekwon, who’s gallivanting on a rooftop and dropping mid-tempo paeans about the art of imbibing. The scene, interspersed with shots of a large beer bottle exploding and re-forming, then switches to Ghostface Killah in front of a bodega, frenetically waxing poetic about the pleasures of liquid yeast.

But this alcoholic ode wasn’t a video for a track off from a Wu-Tang Clan solo album. This 30-second 1994 commercial was part of a campaign for St. Ides, a low-cost, previously obscure brand of malt liquor, that was the first to weave a hip-hop aesthetic into its central messaging.

Today—when Dr. Dre is an Apple executive, Jay-Z has partnered with Samsung on an album release, and Snoop Dogg has appeared in Chrysler commercials—the St. Ides campaign appears strange, a relic from a time when hip-hop culture hadn’t yet earned wider Madison Avenue respect.

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Posted by on Apr 21 2015. Filed under Entertainment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

18 Comments for “Breaking Ad: When Hip-Hop First Went Corporate”

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  4. GRTkillA

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  7. GRTkillA

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  10. GRTkillA

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  11. GRTkillA

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  14. GRTkillA

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  17. GRTkillA

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