Social Media Week: Massy Arias Talks Fitness And Being @Mankofit

Thanks to Instagram, fitness has become a 24/7 lifestyle. You can pull up a quick routine with a double tap on your smartphone, or gawk and stalk your favorite social media fitness gurus. One of the 'gram's most sought-after: Mankofit, the personal trainer and Dominican Republic export (she moved to New York when she was 13), who's now followed by nearly 1.5 million strong.

Besides her chiseled physique, the Instagram goddess (real name Massiel "Massy" Arias) also boasts a quirky post-workout dance, informative captions and a positive aura that sticks out in a sea of memes and thirst traps. After struggling with depression two years ago (partly because her brother suffered from, then eventually beat, cancer), Mankofit opted for a healthier lifestyle to get both her body and mind right.

Once the poster child for "skinny fat," she says she was 5’8'', 114 pounds with a borderline obese body fat percentage (over 25% for men and over 30% for women). Now, she's working out and working hard daily to be a role model for people (not just the ladies) and maybe even start a charity for cancer and train Oprah. No sweat.—Adelle Platon (@adelleplaton)

How did social media become part of your fitness journey?
Mankofit: When I was going through [depression], I was in a very dark hole of my life. I evaluated myself and asked myself which people, activities were contributing to me feeling this way, and I literally changed phone numbers and erased all of my social media. I isolated myself to try to start a new life. I decided to open an Instagram account just to socialize with different people because it was very intriguing to me how you can connect with all these people from around the world, and because my circle became so small. It was just sharing my journey, little by little, and people started adding me.

I created a mini-community where people were sharing their stories. Back then, I was just a very skinny girl who didn’t know much, so now I’ve transformed and people have seen my progress with time. I feel like that’s how I’ve managed to have such a huge following. It’s not like I came out of nowhere. It’s been a very personal journey for me and I’ve been very open with my life because I’m trying to help people who are in the same situation as I was before. It’s a little bit harder to be more personal now that I have such a huge following because I run all of my social media and I only have two thumbs, and there’s only 24 hours in a day.

You actually carry two Instagram accounts: @mankofit and the other is @mankofit_challenge. Do you personally write all the captions?
Yes, I write all the captions. I run my Facebook, I run my Twitter, and finally I have a little help with YouTube, but all the content, I do on my own.

When did you start incorporating your happy dance at the end of your videos?
I believe last year I started [doing it]. I was in Gold’s Gym. I remember one of my friends and I were trying to do a crunch on a punching bag, and I was nervous because I’ve never did that before, and I just suddenly started dancing in the beginning of the video. Before, [the dance] was in the beginning then I made it the end. All of a sudden, one of my friends said, "That’s your thing. Look at you when you’re done with a workout, this is you, this should be it," and I just started. People loved it.

Is this the same friend who records your videos?
It’s different people. My brother records my videos, my boyfriend records my videos, random people if I’m in the gym. Not random, but I usually workout with someone in the gym so whoever is around me.

Has your popularity gotten to the point where you’re at the gym or out in public and people recognize you as the girl from Instagram?
Everywhere I go, I feel like someone knows me or knows who I am. I no longer go to commercial gyms. Because I don’t get a workout in and people don’t understand sometimes that I’m in the gym to workout. People just want to say hi to you and talk to you. Only when I’m in California, I go to Gold’s Gym. If I go to a gym or anywhere, someone happens to know me and they do ask me to dance sometimes [laughs].

Does it surprise you at all?
Before, when I started getting recognized in the street, it was kind of like , Whoa. Now I’m getting more used to it, but it’s still a little off-putting because you don’t have privacy. I [can only] imagine how big celebrities really feel because sometimes I’m out and it’s like, "Oh my God." Maybe I don’t want to talk to them, or maybe I look like a mess, but I can’t avoid it.

I’m pretty sure your popularity skyrocketed even more after you were a part of the Trey Songz video. How did that cameo come about?
He just contacted me via email and it went from there.

How was the experience of working on a music video?
That was a little exhausting [laughs], but it was fun.

Are there any plans to do more music videos in the future or possibly your own workout videos?
I have online coaching and a subscription website that’s going to be launched very soon. Just like you see on my Instagram, I’m going to try to help people on a larger scale. I haven’t monetized my account or made any type of money other than the supplements that I use, so right now I’ve been working on a project to actually do it on a larger scale. With music videos, I don’t think so. I don’t know, I’m not a model like that. I wouldn’t want to get off track of what I’m trying to do. I don’t want to be known as a video vixen or "Yeah, that’s the girl that did a video." I have goals. It’s very hard when you’re a female, young and look a certain way to be taken seriously. When you’re 25 years old and most people say, "You’re a pretty girl with a nice body," I’m trying to get away from that and really go towards the route that will get me to where I need to be. I want to be on TV, maybe have my [own] show that really educates people on how to eat, and how to exercise. I always say and I always tell people my body is a result of my lifestyle change and not [just to get] slim for the summer. I didn’t start working out because I wanted a six-pack or because I wanted a nice body but because I needed to be healthier mentally and physically.

When you first started, did you look to magazines, books or any fitness role models that you wanted to emulate?
It really just happened. Honestly, when I first started, I didn’t think I was going to be able to inspire so many people. I never thought I was going to make this my career. It just happened that I was very good at it. Instead of me wasting my time, I sat down and studied and prepared myself. I promised myself that I was going to be the best I could be because after you reach a certain point, say on social media, I felt like I had a responsibility of giving people the right information. I can’t just post irrelevant information or misguide, or misinform people. If I’m going to inspire all these people, I need to educate myself.

Are there any fitness books in particular that you recommend?
There are different books, but the information is out there. Wikipedia or Bodyism.com. These are articles being written by normal people so it’s like where is the real information? You can’t just say, "Oh because I saw it on Google or the Internet, let me believe it." You just have to find a reliable source. There’s different styles of training, different diets and nutritions. I don’t believe in diets. I believe in healthy eating, but whatever you believe in, go for it. For example, the Paleo diet is a diet that most CrossFitters follow. I don’t follow a Paleo diet. I don’t really like CrossFit because of the rate of injury, so it doesn’t really apply for me and I don’t really believe it, but there’s people that love it. You have to find what works for you and what you really like.

Describe a typical day for you. What time do you wake up? What time do you workout?
I usually wake up very early, around 6, 6:30, 7. I do my morning routine, then go train my clients. I’m working 24/7. There’s not one minute of the day that I’m not working because I have to create content. Sometimes, I stress out because my social media is very close to my heart. That’s where I get the motivation. I have 1.5 million people watching me constantly and I cannot fail. I have a goal to change the world even if it’s one person at a time, to give people the same feeling I get because I feel amazing inside and out. I’ve been posting for almost two-and-a-half years, posting every single day and it’s different information, and that is very hard to do. It is very hard just to manage and every single day from the moment I’m up to the moment I go to sleep, my day revolves around people and fitness.

Everything is planned out.
I don’t have a social life right now, but when you’re focused, that’s what you need to do. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice certain things. I sacrifice a lot. I sacrifice a lot of time with my family and friends. I have dreams of building a brand that is built through integrity and based on getting the respect from people, from personalities that I looked up to. I still look up to them, but people that tell you, "I respect your work" and it’s very hard as a female of color and also, people sometimes look at me like, "Oh yeah, you’re just a pretty girl." No, I want to be taken seriously.

It’s not about the money for you.
No, because I make my money training one-on-one. I don’t make my money through Instagram. I’ve done maybe a couple of collaborations with certain companies. I did a JBL event, but I believe in the product. I’ve been using the product. I bought the product before I was even introduced to it.

You just want your collaborations to be organic.
Yes, everything you see, I believe in it. You have no idea. Everyday, I’ve been offered something from all these companies and a lot of money but I choose not to because I’m not looking to make a quick buck.

Like fitness products?
Everything, anything like weight loss supplements, watches, headphones, yoga, equipment and dresses from companies that see me anytime I post a picture of a dress. It’s incredible how much money can be done through social media. And people tell me, "You’re wasting that, you need to monetize, you’ve created something huge." It’s not for me. My page was created for the community and yes, it’s about me, but not only about me. It’s about my journey, trying to help other people.

If you could train one of your favorite celebrities or personalities, who would you choose?
I would love to train Oprah. I’ve been approached by my fitness idols already, just hoping that I… Every time I think about it, I get the chills because I feel like, don’t get me wrong, I feel like the fitness industry is going a different route. It’s going more towards sexy like, "Oh my God look at me," and fitness models taking their clothes off. I’m not a model. I just take pictures randomly for whoever wants to shoot me, but I feel like, now, the fitness industry is more about other things besides health and wellness. I would love to have the chance to train Oprah because of who she is, what she represents, what she went through because she’s an idol and a role model for a lot of women. One of my clients is La La [Anthony] and I tell her all the time that I respect her because she’s the wife of a great athlete and she can sit down and just go about her life [if she wanted]. She does not do that. She makes her own money, she’s a great mother, she’s a great friend, she’s a great daughter, and she’s been doing her own thing.

What would you say is your favorite body part to work out and why?
My legs because I restrain myself from doing a lot of heavy upper body lifting upper. Apparently, I have really good genetics so I build muscle quick, but my favorite part I think it would be glutes and my legs. I can tell you this: I had no butt [before working out]. I’ve been able to grow the little booty that I have right now.

What would you say are the common misconceptions about women and bodybuilding?
That if you lift weights you’re going to look manly or bulky. Say you’re a larger person, you need to do cardio first and then focus on the weights later. [Another misconception] is that squatting is the only way of getting a booty. Squatting is very important, but it’s not the exercise that everyone’s talking about that’s going to give you a butt, because that didn’t give me a butt. Other exercises gave me a butt so I think the squatting is very overrated.

What exercises did you do?
Exercises that focus on that particular muscle only. For example, I have very large quads. Sometimes it’s not about we don’t have enough. Sometimes it’s that we have so much more in other areas that that other area looks smaller. I have very large quads that overpower everything. It was just that my legs were so big that my butt looked so small. Exercises that actually isolate that particular area, those are the exercises that you want to do. A squat doesn’t only work your butt, it works mostly your quadriceps. If it’s a back squat, it works more of your hamstrings. If it’s a front squat, it works most of your quadriceps and your core. I don’t do core work. I got my abs squatting, but it usually works other areas. For example, a weighted glute bridge is an exercise that isolates the glute. A kick back, that’s an exercise that targets the glute area only. There’s different exercises. If you really want to work on that muscle you need to do a specific exercise that isolates that area.

What's your favorite pair of sneakers to work out in?
That depends on whoever gives me a deal. [Laughs] There are different sneakers for different things. This is why you never see me rocking a particular style of shoe. Anytime you see me wearing my Supras or my Converses it's because I’m doing legs. Anytime you see someone working out legs, squatting in running shoes, it’s wrong because running shoes are for running. Running shoes push your toes forward. Usually when you’re doing a squat or a lunge, or when you’re doing most of the lower body movements, you want to stay on your heels. You don’t want anything pushing you towards the front of your feet, your toes. Anytime you see me wearing something super flat like the shoes that I told you before it's because I’m working out legs. I want a stable platform, something flat that is enabling me to stay grounded on my heels. My favorite shoes are the Nike Frees.

What’s your favorite Dominican meal?
I just love food. That is so hard. It’s a dessert, the name is sweet beans. It has sweet beans, coconut milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, butter, raisins and sweet potato inside.

Now you’re making me hungry.
It’s so fattening it’s ridiculous. Just looking at it you’ll have a heart attack.

Which artists do you currently have on your workout playlist?
Childish Gambino is on my playlist, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey. For my workout, Major Lazer is there, the Black Eyed Peas, A$AP Rocky, Trey Songz, Drake, Rihanna, pretty much all the good stuff.

What can we expect from Mankofit in the future?
My subscription website, my online coaching, and boot camps around the country.

For more from on Mankofit, visit her official website, Twitter and Instagram.

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Ian Reid

Let Jacquees Tell It, He’s The Jodeci Of This R&B Game

Rodriquez Jacquees Broadnax doesn’t want to be the bad guy of R&B. He says this with a sinister, yet warm smile. With year-end debates taking over social circles, Jacquees wants all the flowers for his glowing debut, 4275. “I ain't never had a year like this, I got one of those careers and lives that keep going like this,” he says, as he raises his iced out wrist to draw his progression. “It keeps going up, my sh*t just keeps going up.”

At 24 years old, the singer knows a thing or two about the ever-changing genre. Nearly half of his life has been dedicated to music, specifically to quiet storm-like sounds that now take on new meaning in our adult love lives. He’s hibernated under the radar for some time with his 2014 debut EP 19 and released gentle falsettos and big name features with Chris Brown, Ty Dolla $ign and Trey Songz along the way.

But between his accolades, he’s been condemned for his favorable “Quemix” of Ella Mai’s “Trip” and now, his self-proclaimed status of “The King of R&B” for his generation.

"I just wanna let everybody know that I'm the king of R&B right now," Jacquees said in an Instagram post on Sunday (Dec. 9). "For this generation, I understand who done came and who done did that and that and that, but now it's my time. Jacquees, the king of R&B.”

R&B artists like J. Holiday and Pleasure P shared their two cents on the matter while the game’s most elite like Tank, Tyrese and Eric Bellinger dropping stacks of knowledge on the gift of consistency, respect, and talent. But Jacquees has these things and then some with legends like Jon B., Donell Jones and Jermaine Dupri in his corner. Despite quick reactions from his peers, Jacquees is confident in nature and proud of his space in the game.

“I think I'm the leader though, as far as males go, I think I'm the number one,” he tells VIBE, just days before his “King of R&B” comments went viral. “You're talking about R&B young dudes who understand who goin’ [at] it, [but] who are they going to put in the front? I believe everyone will say Jacquees.”

Jacquees’ music is just a branch of what R&B has evolved into. Over the years, artists like SZA, H.E.R., Daniel Caesar, The Internet, Miguel and many more have flipped the genre on its head by churning out music that not only speaks to the soul, but to their vocal abilities. Successful R&B records aren’t confined to rap guest verses and traditional instruments now take center stage. But Jacquees sits in an interesting space seeing as his style caters to a grey area of folks who just heard their first Monica album yesterday and now appreciate a good nayhoo like the rest of us.

With hopes to release his sophomore album in February 2019, Jacquees chats with VIBE about his confidence, making 7275 and why he’s the perfect leader for R&B today.

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What have you learned about yourself as a human and an artist in 2018?

Jaquees: This was my biggest year. I made the most money I’ve ever made. I dropped my album and was able to take care of my family. I ain’t never had a year like this and I thank God for that. I got one of those careers and lives that keep going like this, (slowly raises a hand to the ceiling) It keeps going up, my sh*t just keeps going up.

I think I learned about my whole self in 2018. Being that it was my biggest year, I went through a lot of stuff personally, but I think the biggest thing for me was listening to other people but also trusting myself. I have a strong mind so more of listening to myself helped.

Do you think you're the good guy or the bad guy in R&B?

Who do you think I am?

I think you’re a sweetie.

I don’t wanna be the bad guy, I’m a good guy. I’m easy to deal with. I’m a sweetie, but ain’t sh*t sweet though. (Laughs)

You have a lot of ‘90s and 2000s influence in your music. Do you ever feel you might sound dated, or do you think you’re bringing new sounds into the genre?

I just think I'm bringing a whole new sound. When I was younger, someone told me if you switch up what you’re doing, someone else is going to do it and you’re going to be pissed off. Just stick with it. When I was 14, everyone was telling me I needed to make club records but I didn’t want to do it. I remember CEOs saying, “Just let Jacquees do that [what he wants,]” because it’s a clock.

I figured out how to get my records at the club without changing who I was. I remember making “B.E.D.” and finding my flow on my project 19, you know? That’s when I got my swag.

What does love look like to you right now?

I think about a family. I think about me, a girl, a kid or something, like a whole family. One day I’m going to have it. I’ll still be in the game but I’ll say, “Yeah, that’s my wife over there with our son and daughter.” I'm getting older, too. I’ve been in the game for 10 years for real, but I’ll be 25 next year and soon they’ll be a little Jacquees.

There are a lot of layers in today’s R&B, especially in the mainstream resurgence it’s had. In that, there aren’t as many young black vocalists being pushed to the forefront. I want to know your thoughts on where you exist in the genre today.

I think there's a big wave coming back right now because even if R&B didn't die down they weren’t promoting it that heavy. Artists were making songs, they just weren’t being acknowledged on a mainstream level. I think the game is really putting R&B back on top. You know, you’ve got artists like me, Tory [Lanez], Ella Mai, H.E.R., so many people, you know what I’m saying? Of course, you had Chris [Brown], Trey [Songz], all of them but that’s when we were in school. It’s a new time, ain’t no big male R&B singers.

I think I'm the leader though, as far as males go, I think I'm the number one. You're talking about R&B young dudes who understand who goin’ [at] it, [but] who are they going to put in the front? I believe everyone will say Jacquees. They’re not rugged like me. You’ve got Jodeci and Boyz II Men. I’m Jodeci, they’re all Boyz II Men. I’m street, they’re not street like me. You can hear it in their voice. There’s a difference.

It’s no disrespect to nobody because they’re all my friends, but I still wanna be number one. If we’re playing the game and I lose, I’ll be mad as hell but I’m still a good person. I just want to win.

As you should. Everyone wants to make the best music they can–

But I ain’t no hater either. The game is like a sport. The game is like high school. I remember being at this year’s BET Awards and seeing certain singers and thinking, ‘Oh, they’re seniors.’ I knew I was a freshman, but I saw Meek and all of them thought, “He’s a senior.’ You know how it is when you walk through school in the first year. Then the second you’re like, “I’m the ni**a now.”

When I did the Soul Train Awards in November, I felt like a sophomore that everybody knew. They knew me from my freshman year, but this time I’m playing varsity.

You’ve said before you want to do this for a long time–

Yeah, I want to make music forever and it’s my choice. I want to make enough money for me to turn down shows because now, I have to take everything I get. I always tell artists, you got this much time to make this much money. Because after that, sh*t’s closed. I've seen it happen.

For me, I know I got longevity in this game because I'm an R&B singer and a lot of R&B singers have longevity if you take care of yourself, you know what I'm saying? Even rappers, you know what I'm saying? You keep that flow going, don't do no lame sh*t, you know you’re stick around.

How do you take care of yourself?

You gotta take care of your health. That's number one. Your mind and your health is your biggest thing. Keeping good people around you...stay in good spirits with me. I like to keep good people around me. I like people around me [who] make me laugh. Smile, I don't really like people around me that I got to be like, “What's going on?” I just like people who are themselves.

Stream 4275 below.

READ MORE: Tyrese, Usher And Others Reacts To Jacquees' Claim That He's The King Of R&B

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Music Sermon: The Groundbreaking Sprite and St. Ides Hip-Hop Campaigns

Today, rap music is used to sell everything from electronics to tax filing services to nut butter grinding machines at Whole Foods. We understand that hip-hop culture is essentially the root of everything cool and hip in culture, period, and it’s been commodified and appropriated within an inch of its life. But in the early ‘90s, the genre was far from Madison Avenue-friendly. Aside from the groundbreaking deal between Adidas and RUN DMC, brands didn’t yet see full value and impact of hip-hop…except in the food and beverage industry.

Beverage companies centering campaigns for the urban demo around black music was nothing new; Coca-Cola had ads featuring artists such as New Edition and Anita Baker singing their hearts out for the cola in the ‘80s, and Schlitz Malt Liquor had a legendary – and hilarious - run of spots featuring The Commodores, The Four Tops, Teddy Pendergrass and more through the ‘70s and early ‘80s. However, in the early ‘90s two brands put their entire business on hip-hop’s back, by not only building their brands but spring-boarding the recognition of the music and artists as a marketing and advertising tool: Sprite soda and St. Ides malt liquor.

In the ‘80s, Sprite was languishing behind competitor 7Up when parent company Coca-Cola decided to focus on the youth market, and the quickly growing hip-hop culture was part of the strategy. African-American ad agency Burrell Communications tagged hip-hop acts for a series of spots that began a long-standing marriage between the brand and the culture, starting with Kurtis Blow in 1986. It was one of the first national TV ads to feature a rapper.

KURTIS BLOW - 1986

In 1990, the brand kicked off the “I Like the Sprite in You” campaign, using rap acts that matched the soft drink’s bubbly energy, starting with Heavy D & the Boyz before partnering with Kid ’n Play the following year. The ads featured the artists clad in lemon-lime fare, rhymin’ about lymon.

HEAVY D - 1990 KID’N PLAY – 1991

With Kris Kross, they turned it up a notch and had us crunk inside the Sprite can. Edgy. Also, this was catchy as hell.

KRIS KROSS - 1993

Then in 1994, a young brand manager from Clark Atlanta University named Darryl Cobbin had an idea for a new direction: Gen X was about authenticity and independence of thought, not following the hype. Sprite ditched the pop-friendly crossover acts and identified more “authentic” rap artists – lyricists with street and cultural cred – to rep the brand. “Lymon” was also out of the window, as they moved away from marketing taste and towards marketing attitude. (Cobbin later spearheaded the iconic, yet grammatically questionable, Boost Mobile “Where You At?” campaign.)

Gone were the bright yellow and green sets, because while the new slogan said, “Image is nothing,” it was all about image. Bright and shiny was traded for dark and gritty. Now we were in the studio; a fly on the wall for freestyle sessions. In the first spot of the series with Grand Puba and Large Professor, Puba closes with “First thing’s first, obey your thirst.” It’s legend even within Coca-Cola that Puba ad-libbed the phrase that then became the brand’s tagline that remains to this day.

GRAND PUBA & LARGE PROFESSOR - 1994 PETE ROCK & CL SMOOTH – 1994 A TRIBE CALLED QUEST – 1994

The “Obey Your Thirst” spots also took us the street corner, the club, and inside the ring when Sprite resurrected the legendary KRS One vs. MC Shan battle.

KRS ONE & MC SHAN - 1996 NAS & AZ – 1997 THE LOST BOYS – 1997

By the late ‘90s Sprite had spent roughly $70M on the “Obey Your Thirst” campaign, tripled sales, and commanded a majority market share of the citrus category (which also included 7Up, Sierra Mist, and Mountain Dew).

Sprite had also succeeded in becoming an official and established part of the culture. They were family. The brand further expanded into urban youth culture through a partnership with the NBA, while continuing to evolve the creative of the rap campaigns.

KOBE BRYANT, TIM DUNCAN & MISSY ELLIOTT – 1998

Near the end of the decade, Sprite explored the overlap between hip-hop culture, comics and martial arts with a series of posse spots based on Voltron (representing all hip-hop regions) and the 5 Deadly Venoms (with all female emcees).

VOLTRON SERIES - 1998 5 DEADLY VENOMS SERIES – 1999

Over the years, Sprite has continued to be one of the most consistent brands in hip-hop. We’ve grown accustomed to spotting the logo everywhere from music festivals and shows to the background of BET’s hip-hop cyphers. They revitalized the “Obey Your Thirst” campaign with Drake in 2010 and paid homage to the greatest lyricists in rap with the “Obey Your Verse” campaign featuring iconic rappers and cans with classic lyrics in 2015.

SPRITE "Obey Your Verse - Cooler" (starring Rakim) from SHOUT IT OUT LOUD MUSIC on Vimeo.

St. Ides’ run with hip-hop doesn’t have the same happy ending as Sprite’s. The brand’s usage of rap petered out in the mid-90s after wide backlash and a series of lawsuits.

For St. Ides, hip-hop was the brand campaign. It’s how they built their business. The brand was introduced in 1987 and their rap campaigns launched in 1988. The malt liquor 40 oz., with significantly higher alcohol content than beer at around a $2 price point, was already a staple in lower-income neighborhoods and hip-hop culture. The “Crooked I” capitalized on that.

Parent company McKenzie River secured Ice Cube as their anchor spokesperson and tapped West Coast producer DJ Pooh to spearhead advertising creative. Pooh lined up a veritable who’s who of additional West Coast rappers over the years, including Geto Boys, Cypress Hill, Warren G, Snoop and Tupac; plus the thorough-est from the East, including Eric B and Rakim, Wu-Tang Clan, Biggie and EPMD.

EPMD & ICE CUBE - 1991 GETO BOYS & ICE CUBE – 1992 ERIC B & RAKIM - 1992

Unlike Sprite’s campaigns which were first jingles and still felt like commercials, even when elevated to trading hot bars for Obey Your Thirst. St. Ides spots, however, looked and felt like straight up music videos with album-worthy production and flow.

ICE CUBE – 1993 MC EIHT – 1994 NOTORIOUS B.I.G. – 1995

Complex even named Wu-Tang’s St. Ides spot “Shaolin Brew” as one of the collective’s 100 best songs! (But at least it’s ranked near the bottom; #97.)

WU-TANG CLAN - 1995

In fact, in 1994, the brand did turn the hottest of the joints into an album, with the St. Ides promotional mixtape dropping at your neighborhood liquor store. It featured full-length songs about getting twisted off the malt liquor from Ice Cube, Wu-Tang Clan, Scarface, MC Eiht, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Nate Dogg.

The Snoop and Nate track is low key a jam, still. Homegirl in the background starting at the 10-second mark is a whole mood.

This blatant marketing of malt liquor directly to black and brown youth wasn’t going to go unchecked indefinitely. It was all irresponsible, even while being genius for the demo. In 1991, the Wall Street Journal listed the St. Ides ad campaign among one of the worst of the year, which probably didn’t matter at the time since WSJ readers weren’t St. Ides’ base.

In 1991, Public Enemy released Apocalypse ’91: The Empire Strikes Back. The album featured “100 Bottle Bags,” a direct criticism against malt liquor companies marketing specifically to urban communities “…but they don’t sell that sh*t in the white neighborhoods.” Shortly after the release, St. Ides found itself in Chuck D’s crosshairs, and he fired the first in a series of big shots against the brand, marking the beginning of the end of their love affair with hip-hop. An 80-second radio spot featuring Cube used a sample of Chuck’s voice without his permission. The ad had already aired over 500 times on rap radio shows when Chuck sued St. Ides parent company McKenzie River for five million dollars (they settled out of court).

Then, St. Ides and McKenzie River fell under legal scrutiny from the New York State Attorney General in 1992 for using verbiage like Cube’s lyric “Get your girl in the mood quicker, make your jimmy thicker…St. Ides.” to suggest the malt liquor increased sexual prowess. Can you imagine the think pieces if that spot ran today?

They were later in hot water with the New York AG’s office again, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco (the ATF) for advertising perceived to the be targeted towards minors, with complaints that it glamorized gang affiliation and promoted sex. After having production completely shut down for a short while and getting hit with heavy fines, St. Ides tried to clean up its act, adding “drink responsibly” messaging into the spots.

By ’96 the run was over. Hip-hop was growing up, getting money and moving towards more sophisticated alcoholic beverage choices. Alizé and Hennessy, anyone?

The relationship between hip-hop and alcohol never ended, of course, but has continued to evolve to match the evolution of the lifestyle. We don’t go to the corner store no more, homie (save a brief return in the early aughts of Four Loko). We’re toasting to the good life with premium brands, some of which are now owned by the artists.

We can look back now with the wizened, woke eyes of maturity and possibly scrutinize our artists selling out at the expense of the community, but for the young and burgeoning hip-hop culture, both the St. Ides campaigns and the Sprite campaigns opened the door for the power and commodification of hip-hop and consumer brands. For better or for worse.

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J.Cole, Teyana Taylor And Other Snubs Of The 2019 Grammy Nominations

It's that time of year again when inner circles and strangers on the Internet debate who's up for a gramophone.

On Friday (Dec. 7), the nominees for 2019's Grammy Awards (Feb. 10) were announced to a span of hot takes, early but informed predictions, and a wall of confusion as to why certain artists were overlooked. While some entertainers excitedly received the good news (Cardi B discovered her nods while leaving a courthouse), others were left scratching their heads.

Here's a look at why those who were snubbed by the Recording Academy deserved to be nominated.

READ MORE: Drake, Kendrick Lamar, And Cardi B Lead 2019 Grammys Nominations

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