Hip-hop stars urged to boycott their favoured bubbly

Rap mogul Jay-Z has called on hip hop stars to boycott their favourite posh champagne, saying the company’s boss suggested their dedication to the brand was unwelcome.

Rap mogul Jay-Z has called on hip hop stars to boycott their favourite posh champagne, saying the company’s boss suggested their dedication to the brand was unwelcome.

Artists like P Diddy, 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg helped transform Cristal bubbly - first favoured by the Russian tsars – into the tipple of choice for the scene’s movers and shakers, with performers frequently name-checking the booze in their lyrics.

But comments by Cristal managing director Frederic Rouzaud in The Economist prompted an enraged Jay-Z to announce that he would no longer serve the brand in his chain of bars, but would sell rival brands Dom Perignon and Krug instead.

“It has come to my attention that the managing director of Cristal, Frederic Rouzaud, views the ’hip-hop’ culture as ’unwelcome attention’,” the star said.

“I view his comments as racist and will no longer support any of his products through any of my various brands including The 40/40 Club nor in my personal life.”

Mr Rouzaud told a special edition of the magazine that the Louis Roederer winery which makes Cristal viewed its association with rap with “curiosity and serenity“.

Asked if the association between the pricey champagne and the “bling-bling” lifestyle of its most loyal customers could hurt the brand, he replied: “That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it.

“I’m sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”

The champagne house said the accusations against it were “unfounded“.

“A house like Louis Roederer would not have existed since 1776 without being totally open and tolerant to all forms of culture and art, including the most recent musical and fashion styles which – like hip hop – keep us in touch with modernity,” a spokeswoman said.

It was the article itself that labelled the attention “unwelcome“, rather than Mr Rouzaud.

After his comment about Dom Perignon and Krug, the journalist wrote: “Both Dom Perignon and Krug have had their share of unwelcome attention, too.”

But Jay-Z, who said he, his customers and the whole hip-hop community had shown “loyal patronage” to the brand, was still offended, according to a spokesman.

“They’re trying to distance themselves from the hip-hop community,” Ron Berkowitz said.

“The hip-hop world certainly helped elevate the presence of Cristal. At the end of the day isn’t the goal for any company to sell bottles?”

According to AmericanBrandstand.com, Cristal was the eighth most mentioned brand on Billboard’s Top 100 chart in 2005.

It scored 35 mentions, from stars including Kanye West, Trina, Lloyd Banks, The Game and Mariah Carey.

In his number one hit Hard Knock Life, Jay-Z raps, “Let’s sip the Cris and get pissy-pissy“.

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