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Stacy-Ann Ellis

NEXT: TDE's REASON Wants His Footprint To Stretch Beyond Rap And Into His Community

TDE's newest signee has his eyes set on more than just the rap throne.

REASON’s 28th trip around the sun is the bookend to a year of firsts. While his four-person crew—including manager Moosa Tiffith, son of Top Dawg Entertainment’s Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith—is killing time until check-out in front of the suite’s flat-screen TV, he’s splitting his attention between this interview, planning the rest of his itinerary (he really wants to go to Times Square) and admiring the view from the top of the swanky SIXTY LES Hotel.

Last night, during his Irving Plaza opening set for Jay Rock’s The Big Redemption Tour, REASON’s reservation at a Midtown hotel fell through and his tour manager had to grab a last-minute room in the heart of the bar-laden Lower East Side. That spare room, with its sleek black floors and luxe decor, just so happens to be this Empire Terrace Suite with a sweeping, idyllic view of Manhattan. REASON is stealing glances of the balcony from a table in the living room. His excitement is masked by a calm, even temperament. It’s the Del Amo, Calif. rapper’s first time in New York City and he’s sitting here by happenstance. Evidently, REASON has that good juju around him.

It’s a full-circle moment for the Virgo to even be touring with Rock, and on his birthday, at that. Despite his regional proximity to Ab-Soul (growing up in Carson, REASON’s older sister was Soulo’s friend), the steely TDE OG was the first Black Hippy member he idolized and the one he resonates with the most. “I was and still am a Jay Rock fan,” REASON says. “That was the guy for us. He was the first person we knew out of the whole bunch. For us, Jay Rock was really like the grandfather of it all, so when he had to take a leave of absence for a while [after his accident], to see him back and emerge even bigger than he was, and then even be a part of that, is crazy.”

This time last year, the ink was still wet on his 27th birthday gift—a contract with TDE, the enviable powerhouse that, based on signees like Kendrick Lamar and SZA, knows how to spot stars. Moosa clearly has the ear, too. REASON’s newly dropped studio album, There You Have It, is a re-released version of a mixtape he made two years ago. When it first came out, Moosa loved it so much he took it straight to his father—without running it by the lyricist first. The move had REASON shook.

“The original idea was to build me up a little bit in L.A. and then drop [There You Have It]. Get another project ready, build me up and then take that project to Top,” he says. “He just sent it to his dad, which I didn't want him to do because Top is very big with first impressions. If he hears you and doesn't like you, if he writes you off, that's it.” Luckily for REASON, the only things Top heard were skill and promise.

REASON’s parents barely understood how pivotal the affiliation was in the first place. (He waited 11 months to publicize the signing.) “I told my dad, ‘Yo, I think I'm going to get a contract offer this week to TDE,’” he recalls, already chuckling at his father’s oblivion. “He was just like, ‘Oh, that's dope and cool. Just make sure that your work schedule fits around it. As long as they’re good with your work schedule, I'm proud of you.’" At the time, REASON had been putting his Northwestern College business degree to use as an IT recruiter at Tech Systems. He worked odd jobs at Target, in the HR department of Forever 21’s corporate headquarters—he was fired after four days for falling asleep (blame late night studio sessions)—and had a stint at a bougie, Beverly Hills winery. “We would get like all the customers that feel like they're better than everybody, like ‘Oh, carry, my bottle,’” he says of the Wally's Wine and Spirits gig. “It was awful. I hated it.” Although his mother and father were supportive of him doing something he was excited about, music was merely a cute diversion. That is until he scored a coveted last-minute spot on the tracklist for Black Panther: The Album—the feature that placed him on the main stage.

At Top’s request, REASON pretty much camped out in the studio for two months after signing. He’d observe K. Dot at all hours of the night, muttering things into the mic as a mystery curation of songs and features played aloud. He dared not intrude, but on the night Dot stayed later than usual, he had to ask what was keeping him up.

“‘I'm trying to turn in an album tonight and we’re waiting for a verse to come in on this record. But it's taking forever,’" he recalls Dot saying, not disclosing the artist who was the roadblock. As REASON was packing up to leave, Top walked over with a hard drive and played the unfinished version of “Seasons,” the final cut of which would also feature Sacramento rapper Mozzy and South African artist Sjava. “[Top] was like, ‘If you can put a verse on there within the next couple of days, then it may or may not make the project,’” he continues. “He left and then came back in 15 minutes, [saying] ‘We about to dip out, but send that verse to me when you can.’ I was like, no, we did it right now. It wasn't about to wait.” When Kendrick texted him asking him to change the first couple lines of his verse two months later, he knew he’d actually made the album.

Talk about when preparation meets opportunity.

 

Professionally speaking, up until five years ago, the rapper born Robert Gill, Jr. thought he was going to be anywhere but here. Up until his teenage years, music was somewhat of an afterthought, especially hip-hop. Due to his parents’ musical diet of Michael Jackson and OG funk music, rhymes didn’t really enter his scope of view until 12 years old. And to be honest, most of his time was spent outside or on a court anyway.

Before relocating to Carson City, REASON was born into a well-rounded sports family (aside from the miniature bejeweled ankh hanging from his neck, his staple accessory is a rubber Los Angeles Lakers bracelet) in South Central L.A. His twin brother, Prentice, is an Assistant Wide Receiver Coach for the University of Southern California, and his father is a local football coach for the South Bay Spartans. While his brother took to playing football, REASON's sport of choice was basketball. “I thought I was going to the NBA until I was like 21. I didn't start doing music until I was 23. I got a scholarship to go play basketball in Iowa and was culture shocked,” he says, reminiscing on his first time as the lone black person on a basketball team. As he dealt with those major adjustments, he dove deeper into music to decompress.

“I started using music to get stuff off my chest because I'm not really good at talking about stuff,” he says. “Just through that process, I really fell in love with it. It was weird to feel myself falling out of love with basketball, something I've been doing my whole life because something else had been taking over.”

There You Have It is a realization of that “something else.” The 12-track LP debut outlines the hip-hop author’s dance of show-and-prove, proudly displaying all the gems that formed from unexpressed pressure. “I wrote some of my best songs after horrible days at work,” he says. “It just made me want to change the situations that I was in and made me want to go harder.”

On album standout “Better Dayz,” he holds the mirror up to himself, sorting through words and feelings he wished he knew how to express, and if he should in the first place. “You don't always want to put yourself out there because people know you now.” REASON was taken aback when fans started checking up on him after hearing his lyrical prayers for a gang-banging cousin who got stabbed. “People really listened to every word. People are coming to me that I didn't know asking me about my cousin. ‘What happened? Is he okay? Did he live?’ It's a good feeling, but it is scary to put yourself out there,” he admits. “I didn't talk to my cousin before I put that out, so I've learned certain lessons with intimacy. I should've checked on this, or I should've checked on that, you know what I mean?”

However, with trunk-knockers like “Summer Up” and “Bottom,” and the wisecracking “Rufus Collection (Skit)” opener, it’s not all grimaces and hard times. REASON knows how to have fun with it, too. “I don't take myself very seriously,” he insists. “The music is where I get all the seriousness stuff out so that in real life, we're just clowning.”

His project dropped on an arguably busy day for hip-hop, but if you ask him, he couldn’t be in better company. There You Have It arrived alongside Tha Carter V, the comeback project of his favorite rapper of all time. “I know he's somebody that if I ever met him, I would be star-struck. I wouldn't know what to say, “ REASON says of Lil Wayne, the first rapper he started listening to. He also went through obsessive fan phases for Ludacris (“I got [Chicken-n-Beer] three times. It was a little overboard,” he admits), Fabolous, JAY-Z (“99 Problems” was the first song he learned word-for-word) and Cassidy before returning back to his original fave.

Weezy fueled his desire to divert from basketball to bars in the first place. “While I was out there [in Orange City, Iowa], I had Garageband and at the time, Lil Wayne had just dropped Dedication 5, so I was freestyling on beats like Wayne was, just on my Mac. Just messing around in my downtime,” he recalls. He sent the scattered songs to his brother and received a surprisingly favorable response. “I made it like a little mixtape called Bored in Orange City, put it on Datpiff and sent it to my homies.” Although surprised he had some flow to him, they liked it, too.

After recognizing his potential, they helped him settle on a fitting rap alias to match. He was booted from their group chat for proposing “awful” names like RJ and Rampage, but eventually settled on REASON because it suited his natural sense of balance. “I feel like a lot of my music is like the middle points,” he says. “To reason with somebody is trying to come to an understanding or an agreement. I feel like that's what a lot of my music is. It’s very honest in the fact that nobody's super, super conscious all the time. Nobody's really turnt all the time or whatever the case.”

That affirmation from his brutally honest friends and the freeing feeling he got from purging his emotions, revealed how much he wanted to be on the court less and in the studio more. He even turned down a contract to play basketball in Greece to pursue this new passion. “When I got back home from school I just hit the ground running, and it was good that I went to school because I had a different mindset,” he says. Now, in retrospect, REASON admits his experimental first tape was pretty trash, but just look at what has since bloomed from that seed.

There You Have It’s title track says it all. “I accept everything God gave me: The good, bad, the ugly/Lot of work to show a little growth, the flows scruffy/So when I'm done I rather say I'm deservin' of it then lucky,” REASON raps in the gravelly voice he inherited from his father. His words are weighty with the responsibility he feels to take this chance he’s been given past the rap world and to where it really matters: to his people.

“My ultimate goal is to gain the influence enough to change my community. That's what I'm more passionate about, so this is a stepping stone to be able to do that,” he says, noting that voicing his frustrations with racial inequality on wax has driven him to tears. In Iowa, being surrounded by people aware of the myriad professional opportunities awaiting them, made him determined to bring that same feeling to the black and brown communities that raised him. Especially to men like him.

“I feel like if you can change the way that black men think, it changes the society,” he says. “Men are the ones that are out here killing. You don't hear about women out here doing drive-bys and sh*t like that, so I want to have more role models.”

Well, consider REASON the first one up.

READ MORE: TDE Signs California Rapper REASON, Shares “The Soul”

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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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