Ad space for liquor

from Yasiin Bey – Hip Hop Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

Hip-hop in the 1990s was, literally, ad space for liquor, part of its ambivalent legacy that Mos addresses in this song. The basic ethical issue is that many in the black community were convinced that alcohol addiction had become a serious problem, and that to advertise for malt liquor, wine coolers, etc. was to collaborate with those hoping to profit off of black misery. Ice Cube shilled — notoriously — for St. Ides, but he was hardly the only offender. And today hip-hop has moved up the class ladder, advertising champagne and vodka, with major liquor imprints now owned by financial titans such as Jay-Z and P. Diddy.

Also notable was the purchase of Interscope records by the Universal Music Group, which was part of the Seagrams conglomerate. Rappers on UMG who promoted the consumption of high-end liquor were effectively doing paid advertising for their parent corporation.

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