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Through The Looking Glass: Newcomer Amare Symoné Gives Us A Peek Into Her World

Meet burgeoning singer-songwriter, Amare Symoné. 

Carving a lane for yourself in the music industry is always a difficult task. It is especially daunting in the digital age of social media. Amare Symoné, however, is up for the challenge, as the 19-year-old is already well on her way to making her wildest dreams come true.

Performing since a young age, the California-born, Brooklyn-raised singer is an artistic extension of her parents Mahogany L. Browne and Jive Poetic, both of whom tour the world as working poets. Symoné released her EP titled Glass Windows via SoundCloud on Oct. 12, and has performed throughout New York and Chi-Town whilst still finding time for her schoolwork as a student of Columbia College Chicago. She was featured on the #LTAB2016 Mixtape and Twitter Mixtape: The Spring Experiment 2016, and was a recipient of the 2016 Converse Rubber Tracks.

VIBE caught up with Symoné to discuss her musical aspirations, opening statement to the game, and how to remain authentically yourself in a society obsessed with what meets the eye and that lives to box you in. —J’na Jefferson

#GlassWinodwsEP

A photo posted by #GlassWindowsEP (@amaresymone) on

VIBE: Each of the music scenes you've grown up around or lived in are very different. How would you describe each of them?
Amare Symoné: I think New York is very obviously hip-hop based, and because there's such an original sound, it's very hard to do something different from that. New York is always super stubborn when it comes to their sound, they're always trying to preserve it, if you know what I mean. It's understandable though, because hip-hop was popularized there and essentially created there. Chicago is so versatile and it gives you space to do what you want to do. So there are Chance The Rappers' and Mick Jenkins' who are able to coexist in the same space, and still be successful like Chief Keef or G Herbo. So that's pretty interesting, I love that they allow you to grow. That’s why I came here [Chicago] for college, because I needed another big city that could foster my growth but also challenge me. California is different because it's a lot of funk. It’s a different type of sound, it's more laid-back, smooth, R&B, funk. I think all three places that I've lived have definitely inspired me when it comes to my music, and all the different styles I try to include.

How would you say that your sound pulls from these places?
I'm still growing in terms of my sound, but I do know that the soul that I would hear in a lot of old hip-hop songs, my dad was a DJ so I grew up hearing a lot of late '90s, early 2000s hip-hop and rap.

The good stuff!
All the good stuff, right? I don't wanna throw shade [Laughs], but I like old hip-hop way more. Even the soul samples and the soul singers, I definitely take from that. That's really why I love listening to old rap, because it brings me back to that stage, and it inspires me even more. In terms of Cali, I think that I do want to bring more of that funk element into my music. I have not yet, but I do want to work with more instrumentalists. I definitely want to bring that fresher sound into my music, and more live-sounding music. I think that's gonna challenge me in a way, but I also realize as an artist, we no longer use instrumentalists as much as we used to, and instrumentalists used to have their own sound. People could tell, 'oh, that's so-and-so on the trumpet,’ or ‘that's so-and-so on the piano.' They had a distinct sound. But now, instrumentals have taken over, instrumentalists don't really get to have their own sound in someone's song. It's no longer their own, it's more producers. I don't want my music to be so electronic, I do wanna keep the music as human as possible. I want a human handprint on my music, I don't just want to work with various producers. I do want to try and produce my own music in the future as well. Chicago did a good job preserving jazz music, just like New York, and I think that's really dope. I do try to implement jazz into my music as well. I do try to scat, even trying to bring as much of a jazzy feel as possible.

Where do you think your love of music came from, and who do you think influenced your interest in it?
My mom, when she was pregnant with me, she said that she sang in choir. Surprisingly though, I'm the only singer in my family. My parents are both poets and writers and activists, but I think my love of music came from my parents' love of music. My mom was a journalist, she was around music when she came from California to New York, so she had a love of music. My dad was also a DJ, so I think my love came from my parents. I think it's also just a part of African American culture, like music, art, even when they try to tell us that art isn't important in life. It is, and it's what we've done to survive for so many years. We've created music to survive.

Why is your EP titled ‘Glass Windows’? What's the meaning behind that title?
Thank you for asking! [Laughs] Everything I do with my art is very much intentional, everything. From the way I titled my 'Glass Windows' EP to the way my song titles look. Everything is intentional, so thank you for asking that. Glass Windows means being vulnerable, and everything is on display, and you can't really hide anything. Imagine being in a box, and it's got glass windows. You can't hide any of that. You have no choice but to be anything but vulnerable, and I wanted to bring that to the forefront for my EP because a lot of it was just me being really honest. Since it was my first EP, my first-ever recorded project, period, I just wanted to be really vulnerable with my audience and my listeners. I wanted my introduction to be as raw as possible, because that's just how I am as a person. I just try to be as much myself as possible. Vulnerability makes you brave because you're choosing to be vulnerable and you're choosing not to hide all the things that society would say are too ugly to talk about.

Where do you come up with your lyrics? Are they inspired by the places you've been, the experiences you've had?
I'd definitely say a mixture of both. I've had the opportunity to travel a lot, and that could be because my parents are professional poets and artists, so they get to travel because of their careers. I've been to Paris, the Bahamas, Jamaica. I've gotten to experience many different cultures in Brooklyn and California. The ability to travel has really helped with my writing, as well as my poetry background. I like to read a lot, I think we should really take advantage of it. Even if you can't afford to go on a trip to here or there, you can at least travel in a book. You can go somewhere for a minute. You can be outside of yourself and your mind, you're just in somebody else's world that they've created for you. I definitely try and keep up with poetry and books, other people's music, other people's art, visual art, performance art, all of that. That's where I get my writing from.

When you do poetry and writing, do you find yourself writing in a similar style to that of your parents? Or do you have your own voice?
I think that we are all products of who we are influenced by. So, if I read and listening to only Nina Simone and Maya Angelou, I'm gonna be inspired by them. If I listen to Beyoncé and Alicia Keys, I'm gonna be inspired by them no matter what. We definitely take a lot from our influencers, but it's our job to take it and make it into our own, because that's what they would want us to do. They wouldn't want their art to be stolen. So, I definitely feel like my poetry and lyrics have been influenced by my parents, but I try to recreate it in my own way for sure.

On your Soundcloud, the description to your EP read, “I reintroduce my humanity and fearlessness to be brave and accept the person I have always been.” Have you ever tried to be someone you're not?
I can easily remember being in Brooklyn and trying to claim to be all of these different ethnicities and races. "Oh yeah, I'm this! Oh yeah, I'm that!" Just to be a different black, because I was made to feel like if I'm not hella Caribbean, and I don't speak the perfect patois, or if I'm not Latina, these boys ain't checkin' for me. I'm not beautiful. So, I would try to be something I wasn't and people I wasn't, instead of just taking pride in who I was. For sure, that was a time that I can remember off the top, just me trying to be someone I'm not. Even freshman year, it was really hard. I was growing into myself, and I realized I was around people who wanted to stunt my growth and didn't want me to become a different type of person. They didn't want me to grow, they didn't want me to change. They didn't want me to evolve and prosper and progress.

How’d you snap yourself out of that?
I snapped myself out of that by making sure to cut off those people that just had negative intentions. I made sure to cut those people off because I figured, "you know what? You're not letting me grow into this woman that I want to be. You're not allowing me to grow into the person I want to become, that I've always needed to become." There's a reason why I moved to Chicago, there's a reason why I chose Columbia College Chicago, there's a reason why I met the people I met and why we're here. There's a reason for everything. I recently lost a friend, and he's the first producer I ever worked with, and when I first moved to Chicago, I met him and we ended up cutting my first song, "DWR." But there's a reason why I was supposed to meet him. There was a reason why we were supposed to make music.

Sometimes you just have to get rid of the mud to get to the clear water you choose to surround yourself with.
Exactly.

Tons of the songs are pretty personal, so what would you say is the track on the EP that is the most personal, and why?
I think "Not Enough" is my most personal record because for years, as a black woman in America, I felt like I was never enough. I didn't resemble the women on TV who always looked made up and done. On social media, you're like "I don't look like this girl on Instagram, I don't look like this girl on Tumblr," and "if I post a picture, I'm not gonna get as much love." Sometimes you have to take a break from social media because it literally breaks you down! I even had a moment the other day where I was like, 'I don't feel pretty," and I know I'm beautiful, but I don't feel pretty. Social media does a great job of making you feel like you are not enough. So, I have moments, and I really needed to write that song because I knew that I wasn't the only one out here feeling like this. I need to make a song, I need to make music that's going to save somebody's life other than mine. I need to put this out in the world, and I want this to do something in the world. So, I definitely feel like "Not Enough" is very personal.

I feel that a lot too. People measure their self-worth more in likes and comments and followers rather than just looking in the mirror and believing in themselves what's actually true. I find myself like, "do I want to post it on this, or on another site that will get more love?" And I shouldn't be like that!
Oh my gosh. Yes! So scary!

To be a millennial and to have these things dictate the way we think and the way we feel and act, unfortunately, is how it is. You're only 19?
Just turned 19, yep!

You're so young. But it's nice to talk to a 19-year-old who sees that things are different, not only for millennials, but for black millennials and black women. You don't let it tear you down.
Thank you! It is hard, especially after this election. This was the first election I voted in and I'm like "oh my god, why does this have to be the first election that I got to vote in?" The sexism has gone too far. Even in the music industry.

What has been your favorite venue to perform at, and what’s the energy like compared to other venues?
I think my favorite venue was performing at NuYo. I love performing at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. My mom hosts on Friday, but even those who don't know me, I get so much love with my art. The other venues, they're just as supportive, but don't feel like home as much. I like performing at YCA, Young Chicago Authors. They're dope, but New York is my home and NPC, I grew up around the people that work there, you know? It's just different, it's nothing but love when I go there. Chicago is so prideful though. That's really hard for me as a New Yorker, sometimes it's overwhelming, but I love this city. I've had tons of firsts in Chicago, a lot of growth here. It's a beautiful city.

What are you hoping 2017 brings you?
I want to be able to do things to help me accomplish my goals. My goal is to get attention with my art. I want to inspire people and I want to break genre boundaries and talk about many of the things that aren't talked about in music. I'm happy that there's more awareness with certain things in music. I just want to talk about it in different ways. I hope that 2017 brings me more opportunities to meet the people that see me and hear my music and see what I'm fighting for. I need a challenge so that I can become better. I want to travel! I want to be able to live off my art. I want to perform at Afro Punk and Lollapalooza and North Coast. I want to just be able to continue to perform and later on my career, I want to be able to mentor aspiring artists and people of color. I just want to help those who love the arts, and want to help in a different way.

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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 male 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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