Hip-hop and booze is as perfect a match as pork chops and gravy.
It’s no wonder, then, that as I perused the Atlanta scene Friday night checking things out before the BET Hip Hop Awards’ taping Saturday at the Atlanta Civic Center, the one constant was sponsors of alcoholic beverages everywhere.
Take Vanquish Lounge (the former Velvet Room) for instance on Peachtree. Interscope Geffen A&M Records teamed up with Remy Martin to throw a lavish shindig. So So Def artist Dondria and Atlanta “Housewives” Phaedra Parks swung by to look pretty and be seen, but the star of this show was, well, the booze.
Hundreds of Atlanta’s glitterati mixed and mingled with hip-hop, naturally, filling the background.
Interscope manager Marlon Singleton, who is responsible for such artists as Dr. Dre, Eminem and Black Eyed Peas, pumped up the whole hip-hop genre, but I told Singleton that my tastes leaned more toward old-school funk and that if he wanted me to flex my swag and turn the place out then drop a Chaka track.
Anyway, I was intrigued by this Remy V drink called a Harvest Moon that included orange liqueur, sunflower syrup, orange vanilla tea and rhubarb bitters. Mighty fine, smooth taste, I must admit, despite initial fears of this thing cleaning me out — if you catch my drift.
Over at Fly Kix ATL store in Castleberry Hills, Hennessy revealed its limited edition Kaws bottle in support of the BET Hip-Hop Awards’ celebrity shoe charity auction. Ludacris, Atlanta DJ Greg Street, Don Cannon and others donated sneakers to benefit Walk a Mile in My Shoes and Save the Music, BET’s hallmark programs.
Another power presence on the Atlanta scene Friday was Ciroc vodka, which is partly owned by Diddy. The monstrous mobile billboard with spotlights cruising through Midtown certainly made its presence known.
But that’s how Atlanta gets when the BET Hip Hop Awards lands each year: blitzed with countless alcoholic beverages trying to be or remain the drink of choice for the underwear-showing, gold-tooth, nose-bleed-high stiletto demographic. The payoffs could be phenomenal — a shout-out in a rap song or a major artist endorsement that subliminally tells an entire generation that it is not cool — or a true part of the hip-hop culture — if it is not drinking what they are.
Just look at what Snoop did for Tanqueray gin and Angie Stone for Remy Red back in the day. When Busta declared “Pass the Courvoisier,” sales of the cognac jumped more than 30 percent. Hip-hop is a major influencer that cannot be denied, and that’s because the hip-hop generation, above all else, loves to tip the bottle, drive fancy cars, and smoke … well, we won’t go there.
Black music has always been associated with adult beverages from as far back as I can remember. In the 70s, a smooth Billy Dee Williams got the girl with Colt 45. Kool & the Gang got into the groove with the Platters over Schlitz Malt Liquor in the 80s (that remains one of the funkiest commercials of all time!), and Biggie rocked the mic for St. Ides in the 90s.
Now, tastes have changed and artists aren’t just promoting alcohol, they are buying into it. Ludacris, Jermaine Dupri, Diddy, Dr. Dre and Lil Wayne are all part of a new hip-hop nation that’s being smarter with their money and investing in profitable areas like booze. Even Pharrell Williams is out there now pushing his new Qreme liqueur.
So as the weekend stays abuzz with the BET Hip Hop Awards through Monday night, and the famous pump up their favorite drinks at Club Obsession, Compound and Esso, I’ll pull up my pants, go home to my Chaka and Ohio Players CDs and sip on NUVO and peach schnapps.
And no, the brand did not pay me to write that.
The BET Hip Hop Awards, hosted by comedian Mike Epps, airs Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. on BET.
If you want to see some of the promotions from back in the day, here are a couple of links from YouTube.