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Clay Cane Talks Surviving The Intersections Of Sexuality, God & Race In 'Live Through This'

Live Through This: Surviving The Intersections Of Sexuality, God, And Race explores the plight between the LGBTQ community and the church coupled and dealing with identity. 

Journalist, author and filmmaker Clay Cane explores the trials and tribulations that many LGBTQ people of color endure—especially after jumping life hurdles like race, sexuality and religion—in his new essay-style memoir, Live Through This: Surviving The Intersections Of Sexuality, God, And Race.  

The book is compiled of 27 separate essays dealing with Clay’s experience coming into his own as a young gay man of color growing up with limited resources in Washington state and Philadelphia. In efforts to highlight some of his most life altering vignettes, he divides the book up into one-word sections—Sexuality, Love, Race, God, Intersections—that target different facets of his existence and form part of his story.

But this isn’t just a story about Cane. Within the collection of stories, he interpolates all types of issues that affect the LGBT community and marginalized communities as a whole. For instance, there is an essay called “Plantation Life,” which targets undocumented immigrants.  “THE END OF THE MONTH IS A SIGNAL OF THE APOCALYPSE when you are living below the poverty line,” he writes. “While my mother did what she needed to do put food on the table, she also grabbed extra work wherever she could find it, no matter how difficult. My mother’s best friend Karla, who was a young Mexican woman with two kids, told her about picking fruit berry plantations deep in Washington State. “The work is hell, but it’s quick money, and it’s under the table. Girl, you’re white: I don’t think you can handle it!” Karla half-joked.”

Through a mixture of words crafting beautiful imagery, he targets the topical issue of immigrants and hard labor. As a biracial kid who grew up in poverty with his white mother, he vividly tells the stories of those he saw around him. Amid the real hard-knock-life tales, he manages to intertwine humor, nostalgia and sprinkles of pop culture. These diverse sets of stories with a handpicked selection of characters culminate from the time he was a child listening to Prince and Madonna to when he became a professional entertainment journalist and was spending face time with artists like Chaka Khan.

In his essay titled, "Divas Live: Beyonce, Mary And Patti," he remembers in 2007 when Khan told him during an interview, “I want to thank all my gay following, all my people, for staying with me and supporting me all these years. You all have been my most solid fan base and that’s the truth.” And while visibility for the LGBTQ people of color has heightened through out the years, struggle still persists. In 2015, Clay released Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church, a documentary that explores the plight between the black church and its long history with ingrained homophobia. If the documentary was a conversation starter, this new book is it’s colorful continuation. VIBE recently spoke with Cane about his new book, and the conversations it deliciously stirs even if the taste may not always be as sweet.

 

VIBE: Why did you decide to write the book separated by essays instead of a full memoir?
Clay Cane:
I didn’t want to do the straight cradle to the grave memoir, but in a way it is a memoir because I’m talking about my life. It’s more so about these warriors I met in my life who inspired me, and warriors don’t always live forever. Warriors are not super heroes; a lot of them have passed away, but they’ve had this impact on me and that’s what I really wanted to highlight. I felt like each essay had a take away of equality or social justice. Some are really uncomfortable and really terrifying, and some are really funny and over the top. But me as somebody who is black with a white mother, who is from Philly also Washington State, who grew up poor as hell, who also had a crazy religious experience, I have all these identities and intersections.

I feel like in many ways we all have that. So that’s why I broke it up that way, it made sense. It felt right, I also liked the idea of folks not having to read something straight through. You can read on the train, you can read it as you’re waiting for a meeting. It’s acceptable in that way, and my intention at heart was that these are the issues that I care about. I wanted to use the experiences of my life to talk about it.

What do you do to fight back that noise of shame and guilt that can creep in because of society’s stigma towards homosexuality?
The noise is never really gone. It’s there, but for me the noise is in different ways. When I was writing this book it was through our last insane presidential election, so as I’m writing it and I’m writing about undocumented workers for example on the essay “Plantation Life,” I’m hearing our current president talk about immigrants, undocumented workers and Mexicans. The noise was right there.

The folks in my book, we think about them in stats, numbers and voting blocks. I want to dehumanize those stats, numbers and voting blocks. So that’s the way of fighting back the noise, in acts of resistance. It’s fighting back in this current climate that were in, which is really scary. I think it’s always there, but you have to live through it. You have to go in the battlefield everyday, and that’s kind of what I did.

There’s one essay in there called “The Hip-Hop Closet” where I was going to a gay club in The Bronx at the warehouse, and they would not let trans-women in because they wanted the club to be more masculine. So I’m a young guy experiencing all these things, and I’m just in shock. What I’m seeing is that hurt people hurt other people. It’s not to say that it’s all their fault. But even if you find your people, you also grow up in these structural undertones of sexism, homophobia and the pressures of manhood and masculinity. For me the book is a wake up call, even to folks within my community. I’m not just calling out white people or straight people at all—it’s a wake up call to us as well.

You’ve been very vocal about the black church and the stigma it perpetuates against homosexuality and the LGBT community. What do you think the LGBT community can do fight back against this?
What we should do as a whole is that we have to say "no more." For the black church specifically... black LGBT folks in the church have this joke where it’s like, "Want to meet a whole bunch of gay folks? Just go to the black church." We have to say no more. No I’m not going to sit here in oppression and not say anything.We have to be vocal about that.

With the black church, for us it is very specific because for our churches we have the roots of Jim Crow, slavery and the civil rights movement. Our churches really have a historical freedom concept, so for a lot of us we don’t want to walk away from the church. We have to speak up, but we have hypocrites at the church, like the late Eddie Long who says terrible things, and administers anti-gay marches, but allegedly slept with men.

That’s disgusting, and we, as the gay folks in the church, build the church and support the church. The church couldn’t survive without LGBT folks. And white churches are crazy too, but I think for the people in our community our churches are vulnerable spaces too, because people are looking for salvation. They are looking for healing. To look for a place of healing and be shamed can really ruin somebody’s life. So that’s been a fight of mine for years.

What do you think that shame has done to the black gay community?
This is a theory of mine, but I think that part of the reason why the HIV/AIDS rates are so high among black gay men—because if you’re told the supreme being does not love you, where does your soul go from there? Why would you use a condom if you believe your life is invaluable? Why would you go on PrEp if you’re taught that you’re going to burn?

Self-hate is part of the reason why the HIV rate is so high, especially in the South where church culture is even bigger. So I say to people who are co-signing homophobia in the church, whether you're straight or gay, there is blood on your hands as well. It’s on you as well. There are people that are being hurt, and they are dying. It really is a crisis; it’s heartbreaking to me. I should say folks are doing something, but as far as the church aspect there is more that can be done.  

In the book you talked about how hip-hop influenced you as a young black man, but then when it came to your gay identity you felt shunned because of the homophobia and misogyny in the music. Do you feel more welcomed by hip-hop now?
That’s a good question. I think it’s complicated. Hip-hop artists know now that it’s not really profitable to be homophobic. Once upon a time it was profitable to be homophobic. That goes back to the church as well, the reason why churches are so homophobic is because it’s profitable, and now they are learning like Kim Burrell that this may not be bringing us what we want.

When it comes to hip-hop artists, people don’t play now. If you say something really homophobic and disgusting, that can really damage your career. So I don’t know if it’s sincere. I don’t know if it’s sincere, them staying quiet. But as far as feeling more welcome, there are some good folks there like Young M.A. and of course Frank Ocean, Taylor Bennett and iLoveMakonnen.

There is still work that needs to be done. I want to see a successful hip-hop artist be like an Ellen Degenres or like an Elton John in their career, and get love from hip-hop, but I think it’s complicated. Also, a lot of these guys are really young, and they need space to learn, evolve and grow. I love hip-hop, I really, really do; it’s just part of my roots. Black women have to deal with that, too. They love hip-hop but it’s deeply misogynist. It’s complicated, but someone like Common used to have homophobic lyrics; he turned around. You have to give some people time to evolve, and space to grow. But the irony of it is that for some people, being a homophobe makes you more masculine. Masculinity is very important in hip-hop. It’s a deep conversation about what’s profitable in hip-hop.

You also mentioned in your book the positive impact music has had on you as a gay man with artists like Prince and Madonna. Who do you think are those type of icons for this new generation?
Some artists have always acknowledged the importance of an LGBT following in their career. When you can’t hit the same notes; when you can’t get radio airplay, the LGBT community especially gay men— for women and women of color—they are there. So that’s really crucial and important. I think now when it comes to women artists, I think that every artist is performing at an LGBT pride event. I think with Beyonce you see that in “Formation,” she was really showing this kind of alternative vision of blackness with having Messy Mya in there and having Big Freedia.

If I would’ve had Beyoncé doing that, if she had been out when I was kid, that would have had a huge impact on me in the same way Prince, Madonna and Janet Jackson had an impact on me. These artists are out there, and they are being visible. And for a lot of them, they are being sincere. Lady Gaga is really sincere about it, you know she knows what she’s talking about. Even on Rupaul’s Drag Race, which is wild that she is on there giving tips to these drag artists. There are a lot of folks everyone from Marsha Ambrosius to Beyonce to Fantasia—although she’s gotten in some heat for some things here and there—she has a big following. Also, there’s Jennifer Hudson. I believe it’s sincere because they have LGBT people in their crews. But what Beyonce did with “Formation” was really cool, that she had this gender non-conforming context in there. That was really cool and powerful. She also had LGBT inspiration in Lemonade.

Lastly, you also write about the support your mother gave you as a child. What advice would you give young gay men whose mothers aren’t as supportive as your mother was to you when you were growing up?
That essay is called “The First Time I Was Called A Faggot,” and because of my mother kicking her boyfriend out of the house, saying ‘that’s my son.’ It really honored me for life. That was a crucial part in just my upbringing. It armored me for life. My mother has nothing more than an eighth grade education and she gave me some serious affirmation. So for young people especially young men who are going through these pressures of masculinity I would say that you have to live through it, you have to stay in it, and you have to look for your escapism. Like I did with music and with culture. You have to find ways to free yourself when you can, but you have to make it out on the other side.

And then ultimately you have to find your tribe, and that may take a long time. But you have to be in it, there is no other option, because when you’re young you don’t have much agency. When you’re young and a child you don’t have much of a voice. I hope any young person that reads through this, I hope it makes them feel a little more comfortable, and laugh a little bit more. You have to seek out little ways to find your tribe. But it’s difficult and it was hard, because when I was in it, no advice would have really helped me. Fortunately, now there are more outlets of social media, and stuff like that. But seriously, I’m putting out all the good energy out there to those going through it like I did.

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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?

Jac

quees: 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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