Bacardi Pays Homage To Caribbean Culture With Dynamic "Sound Of Rum" Series

Bacardi is looking to pay homage to the key elements of Carribean culure in a major way. 

The music industry is feeling rather ambitious these days thanks yet again to the riddims of the islands. Latin and Caribbean influence has not only been injected into the tunes of monster acts like Drake, Ed Sheeran and Major Lazer, but in other platforms that bring life to any celebration.

Case in point, Bacardi’s latest campaign, The Sound of Rum. With Major Lazer leading its rollout in Miami during Memorial Day weekend, the legacy spirit blended admirable factors like rum, music and food on the barrier island of Virginia Key. The event provided dishes from Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Haiti and Jamaica in an opulent layout as fans sipped custom drinks powered by Bacardi. It may have seemed like the treat to guests, but Brand Managing Director Ned Duggan describes it as a testament to rum’s deep roots in Cuba and Puerto Rico.

“It might sound cliche, but what people are ultimately looking for is history,” he explains. “They're looking for authenticity, and rum is a category spirit that's been around for hundreds of years.” Duggan says their latest rum with the “Run Up” artists is part of keeping the company’s 155-year influence fresh in today’s music climate. “With [Sound of Rum,] we wanted them to give a new expression of what their music would taste like in the same way we tried to figure out what our rum would sound like,” he said. “It’s also about trying to find collaborations with artists who are innovative, who are breaking through. It’s our way to keep ourselves as modern as we possibly can.”

Ironically, that’s been the case for Caribbean music in the past few years. Reggae and dancehall found themselves on the shrines of house acts like Kygo and Thomas Jack in 2014, though masked as the sloppy title, “tropical house.” As its influence continued in the pop stratosphere, it shut out the artists who cultivated the sound to begin with.

The same can be said for the year's massive hit that is Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's "Despacito." The song's remix with Justin Bieber is the first primarily Spanish speaking song to hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts since 1996's "Macarena." While the song was already a hit (it's one of the fastest songs to hit a billion views on YouTube) the overwhelming credit to Bieber has left a sour taste in critics' mouths.

Meanwhile, Dancehall’s connection to hip-hop has gone hand and hand since the 80’s and found new life during the 90’s with legends like Shabba Ranks, Beenie Man, Lady Saw and Patra. Fast forward to the 2010’s and we have Sister Nancy’s 35-year-old hit “Bam Bam” still making waves through film and Kanye’s 2016 single, “Famous.”

As these acts continue to plant the seeds into the hits of today, Bacardi hopes to the do the same–without leaving the culture behind. For Forbes’ list of Spirits For 2017, whiskeys and gin flourished while rum didn’t receive as much as a whisper. Duggan is hopeful that in between the comeback of cocktails and the Caribbean sound, rum finds its way back to the conversation.

“I think rum is a forgotten spirit,” he said. “You hear about dark spirits and resurgence of whiskey and that happens. Tequila has had one recently and with rum, we're waiting for ours. I think a lot of things that we're doing are helping to put rum back on the map where it should be.”

In addition to the Sound of Rum series, the brand has partnered with Live Nation to bring Bacardi to international waters. It won’t be a solo journey as music will remain by its side. Acts like Skepta, Majid Jordan and Rae Sremmurd will headline the Bacardi stage at Governors Ball this weekend. The brand will continue working with Walshy Fire for his Rum & Bass sorries and Jillionaire’s Chicken and Beer bashes.

As the summer heads into full bloom, dancehall and reggae will more than likely lend a hand to the songs of the season. Just remember to hold on to a Cuba Libre in between the riddims.

Explore Bacardi’s Sound of Rum series here.

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Celebrate Apollo 11's Historic Moon Landing With Grand Marnier's "Moonwalk" Cocktail

It's been five decades since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings to land on the moon. To mark the historic moment that occurred on July 20, 1969, global French liqueur brand Grand Marnier is celebrating the historic "Moonwalk" cocktail inspired by Amstrong and Aldrin's lunar journey.

In 1969, Joe Gilmore, head barman of the Savoy Hotel's American Bar, invented the drink to commemorate the astronauts' return from their successful mission. The classic cocktail — made of Marnier's cognac and bitter orange-flavored liqueur, champagne and more — is said to have been the first beverage they sipped upon their homecoming.

“The cocktail was a mix of grapefruit juice, Grand Marnier, champagne and rose water,” he explained to Wonderland in 2008. “The Savoy sent it off in a flask and I received a letter back from Neil Armstrong thanking us and saying it was the first drink they had when they came out of quarantine.”

In honor of the 50th anniversary, we're sharing the classic "Moonwalk" recipe for you to enjoy from the comfort of your home today and for years to come. Scroll down for more details and relive the historic moment in the video below.

Bonus: We've added four more Grand Marnier cocktail recipes for the French holiday, Bastille Day (July 14). À votre santé (Cheers)!


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Scotch Porter Taps VIBE Editor-In-Chief Datwon Thomas For 'Dare To Care' Campaign

Grooming brand Scotch Porter has selected VIBE editor-in-chief Datwon Thomas as one of several men to participate in its "Dare To Care" wellness initiative launching on Father's Day weekend.

"Dare To Care," according to a press release from Scotch Porter, aims to "evolve the perception of manhood." The project will highlight men who use philanthropy, media, education, fashion, music, and advocacy to "aggressively push boundaries to reveal the multiple internal and external layers of themselves to inspire others."

Along with Thomas, other notable participants include Akbar Cook, principal at Westside High School; Carl Banks, two-time Super Bowl Champion and founder of Gil Sports; Emil Wilbekin, founder of Native Son (and former VIBE editor-in-chief); hip-hop artist Grafh; Travis Simons, pastor and life coach; and Iquan Worthington, founder of The Artoholiks.

“For so long you’re taught ‘you can’t cry, you know you play ball... that’s a hard foul’, it’s all these different things,” Thomas said. “It’s about understanding when you need to step up into a position and when you to need to be empathetic to others and yourself.”

The "Dare To Care" campaign will open Father's Day weekend with a multi-city digital billboard review, and across multiple platforms.

Scotch Porter customers can also visit to submit their own videos about how they're driving change around the mindset of being a man. More information about the company and the "Dare to Care" mission are available on Instagram and Twitter (@ScotchPorter), Facebook (ScotchPorter), and join the conversation with the #ScotchPorter hashtag.

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Courtesy of STRONG by Zumba

Zumba, But Make It Slap: Grammy-Nominated Producer Sevn Thomas On Creating 'STRONG By Zumba' Music

As New York residents anticipate the summer sun, the dancefloor of popular hotspot Copacabana was transformed into a full-blown STRONG by Zumba session.

With a high-intensity exercise led by Ai Lee Syarief, one beat, in particular, riled up attendees. It's the aptly titled "Knock 'Em Down," created by Grammy-nominated producer Sevn Thomas. Fast and slightly akin to his many hits (turn up Travis Scott's "WAKE UP" and Drake's "Pop Style"), the Toronto native gave the crowd another bop to add to the workout playlist.

Scoring a workout isn't easy, but the pairing seemed ideal for Thomas. "It's the perfect merge between music and exercise," he tells VIBE before the big workout. "They go hand in hand with each other, they complement each other. A lot of people listen to music when they work out to get in their zone and channel that energy. I thought it made perfect sense."

Thomas' collaboration with the STRONG by Zumba brand falls in line with the non-dance workout and incentive to challenge traditional fitness regimens. Past collaborators include Timbaland, Steve Aoki, and Krewella. While Thomas isn't the first hip-hop based producer, his take twists the brand's sound with an arena-like quality and a high tempo beat.

"["Knock 'Em Down"] is energetic, intense—a driving force," he said. "It's the perfect pulse for an intense workout. I tried my best to represent that in the beat as best as I can." 

Thomas' beat was used during the middle of the workout when legs were giving out and water breaks lasted a little longer than intended. As Syarief set up the next set of crossovers and squats intervals, guests like Chanel Iman were moving to Thomas' beat with ease. Thomas also joined in on the fun, STRONG by Zumba gear and all.

"Sevn's innovative sounds, blending of multiple genres with hip-hop beats and wrapped with a hint of his signature Caribbean-inspired bounce syncs perfectly with STRONG by Zumba," said Zumba CEO, Alberto Perlman. "By working with world-renowned producers, we are able to provide the best, most motivating and unique beats in every class that drive the ultimate afterburn."

For Sevn's personal STRONG by Zumba playlist, the producer is all about trap beats and artists like Young Thug's YSL Records signee Lil Keed.

"I really like trap music. That's my type of stuff [to workout to]," he said. "I've been listening to a lot of Travis Scott. I'm not sure if you're familiar with an artist named Lil Keed. I love Lil Keed right now, he's one of my favorites. His brother, his name is Lil Gotit. I love Lil Gotit's stuff too. I've been rotating that stuff when I'm in the gym doing my thing, I kind of zone out to that."

But STRONG by Zumba's workout not only came from a little inspiration from trap music but martial arts as well. Lead instructor and developer Syarief found her way to the brand in 2010 and has been the face of their many workouts like Zumba, Zumba Toning, Aqua Zumba, Zumba Sentao, Zumba Gold, Zumba Gold Toning, Zumba Kids/Kids Jr. and Zumba Step. Syarief says the latest Zumba workouts are less about perfecting reps and more about moving to the beat.

"There are so many fun movements. You're going to sweat, you'll go to your limit, it's going to be hard. But the music is always there to push you," she said. "Even though you feel like, 'Can I still go?' The music will push you and we don't count reps. You won't even think of the reps, just to move to the beats. That's what makes it different than any other workout. We're going to start a bit slow and then it's going to increase the intensity until we really push your limits. You always have small, active recovery bouts in between so you can really catch your breath and then go full high intense, work hard. So that you have the afterburn effect and then you have the active recovery."

When Thomas isn't on the boards, he's trying his hand at developing artists. Currently, he's working with Long Beach native Gibby, a partnership that fits his organic approach, not molding them into a carbon copy of what's trending.

"I think he's going to be super special. He is super special but for the world not to see how super special he is[...] That's one of the things I have on my agenda right now," he said. "It's super cool and interesting to work with a new artist because you see how chemistry and synergy work as well as working with somebody that gets it. An artist such as Gibby, he gets it, it makes it so much easier for me. It's not as much heavy lifting, but it's super dope to see how people are on the same wave and how they can exchange ideas with each other. The end result is always the best when you guys have the finished product, it's kinda like 'Look what we created together.' That's the fun part."  

Thomas also has a few major productions on the way, noting how he's very booked and busy. "I've been getting in the studio with everyone right now," he said. "So I'm super excited to see how that unfolds."

Learn more about STRONG by Zumba fitness here.

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