Hip-Hop Industry Brings the Bling to Top-End Wine & Spirits

Artists from Busta Rhymes to Lil' Kim tout luxury liquor brands.

Ultrapremium wines and spirits have long been associated with glamor and game—indulgent luminary Oscar Wilde

A'ight, new drink
One part Alizé one part Cristal
From "Thug Passion" (2Pac, 1996)

Give me the Henny, you can give me the Cris
You can pass me the Rémy, but pass the Courvoisier
From "Pass the Courvoisier" (Busta Rhymes, 2001)
Moët ("Moe")
Yo, they call me Nas, I'm not your legal type of fella Moët drinkin' . . .
From "Represent" (Nas, 1994)
Opus One
I'm like Opus One
Young, no two alike like a snowflake
From "Show Me What You Got"
(Jay-Z, 2006)

Rémy Martin ("Rémy")
This is me talkin', without the Remy in me Ikick it from the heart . . .
From "Do What You Like" (Lil' Kim, featuring Junior M.A.F.I.A., 2000)
was known for his  Perrier Jouët habit, and Napoleon had a documented passion for Burgundian Chambertin Pinot.
But perhaps today more than ever, high-end draughts are present in aspirational pop culture, most visibly, in the hip-hop music genre. In this multi-million dollar-a-year industry, rap stars from Lil' Kim to Busta Rhymes are touting luxury brands to an eager and impressionable public, and those props are leading to serious sales.

Case-in-point: Cognac. In the early 1990s, Cognac sales in the U.S. bottomed out as the traditional moneyed and elderly customer base dwindled. At about the same time, the spirit began receiving star billing in popular hip-hop music videos. Today, the U.S. is the number one market for Cognac in the world and African-Americans account for between 75 and 80% of Cognac sales in the U.S.

Champagne, primarily the Louis Roederer flagship brand Cristal, is also a favorite in the industry. It seemed a harmonious union until last October: Def Jam president and platinum music artist Jay-Z made headlines for boycotting the product after Roederer managing director Frederic Rouzaud made what the rapper considered offensive comments to The Economist magazine. While Rouzaud did not actually refer to the rap community's affection for Cristal as "unwelcome attention" as the Jay-Z press release claimed, he did insinuate that its association with an edgy genre was potentially damaging to the brand.

Whether hot or cold, the high-profile relationship between hip-hop and high-end wine and spirits brands is here to stay. Above are just a few places where products like "Cris" and "Dom P" have made their mark.


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