Sunday 29 November 2009

St. Ides Ghetto Sponsor - "Sippin' On 40's Of Brew! *Updated*

Rap & 40's - The Corporate/Rap cross over.

A look at Hip Hop's first real Corporate endorsement.

"So this is what a real man drinks." - Malt Liquor Advertising Slogan

40oz's is a cheap above average measurement of alcohol, Beer or in particular Malt Liquor, that became popular in the early 90's as almost an accessory in the "Timbo era" of Rap. Blamed for inner city violence, destruction of the Black Community, glamorising illegal street drinking, underage sex, fuelling Gang Related feuds, Alcoholism and exacerbating an already negative situation for people in Urban America.

The Early Years, The 1970's and direct marketing to the Black community

The Lockers - Foundation Dance group form L.A.
Tastes Like Schlitz"

Redd Fox - Colt45 Promo

Colt 45 hired National cross over Superstar Comedian Redd Foxx to front their campaign, but it does appear to be a bit tasteless with him drink driving? Saying that there is definitely an irresponsible Car culture theme running in the later St. Ides West Coast advertisements, as we shall soon see.

The refined 1980's, King Cobra, and Billy Dee for Colt45

Fred "The Hammer" Williamson played American Football for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1960's later becoming an actor

Actor Billy Dee Williams famous for the Lando Callrission character in Star Wars Trilogy, was the next generation of Black celebrities to be courted by the Malt Liquor industry. Mr. Williams represented the classy,aspirational element of the community that Colt45 tried to align their product to.

"I even made Billy Dee sell Colt45" - Special K

Colt45 - Every time

People Under The Stairs - "Beer" 7"
An Hip-homage to Mr. Dee's service to Beer drinkers

7" centre art

"It works every time" Relaxed (hair!)

1990 St. Ides and Raps New Generation

St. Ides Malt Liquor

Towards the mid to late 1980's in Ronald Reagan's yuppie society, the reality for the left behind young people growing up in the Crack infested Cities, gone were the older emotional Soul ballads and Smooth Buppie role models, the sound that shone was Hip-Hop music. Hip-Hop being a predominantly party based genre, many songs had already mentioned B-Boys favourite drinks, Eazy-E's 8 Ball, Mr. X & Mr. Z's (The Dismasters) Eric B. & Rakim “I Know You Got Soul” parody "We Drink Old Gold" celebrating Olde English 800 in 1987, and Coqui 900 by Phillie Gangsta rapper Schoolly D, amongst others.

For the sake of "Keeping it real", Hip-Hop culture was a tight community, it was an underground movement, and to stop the "Whitewash" or Apartheid that had befallen Funk, when it watered down to Disco, any sign of a Corporate "Sell-out" could spell the end of an Artists career. Back then the songs were always, just for the sake of a song concept, but soon all of that was to change, and it would change Hip-Hop culture forever.

Eazy E unofficial Olde English memorial t-shirt

"Eazy-E's F*cked up
And got the 8-Ball rollin'

Old English 800
Yeah that's my brand
Take it in a bottle
40, Quart, or Can
Drink it like a mad man
Yes I do"
Eazy-E 8 Ball

Coqui900 - The choice of Phillie's 80's B-Boys
Coqui 900 from his Smoke Some Kill album
"Coqui 900 turns summer to a killer" - Schoolly D

Schooly D - Smoke Some Kill

Red Bull
"More Power Too You"
Using familiar slang expressions, double speak, power unabtainable to the most power-less members of society

As Hip-Hop music started to pick up National and International success, the Corporate work started to pay more attention to the emerging culture. St. Ides was launched, aggressively targeted the predominantly Black and Latino markets through direct Hip-Hop Marketing, by signing up the top Hip-Hop artists of the time and buying up Radio airtime and T.V. slots. By looking at the artists it becomes easy to see the direction St. Ides were going, with artists like Ice Cube, Kool G Rap, Scarface & Geto Boys, King Tee (feat. his DJ E-Swift of Alkoholics), DJ Pooh, Yo-Yo, EPMD, Eric B & Rakim, Cypress Hill, they were the more hardcore, West Coast style Gangsta Groups.

Tupac promoting Malt Liquor and gambling to "his little homies", his Thug Life Movement in action?

Then when the post Boys In The Hood, "G-Funk" era evolved, MC Eiht, Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Warren G, and later on Tupac, Wu-Tang, Redman and even Biggie Smalls. The plan was a great success and increased St. Ides sales by 25% in the first year, and St. Ides became white college students favourite malt liquor.

Young Black Teenagers - Tap The Bottle featuring DJ Scribble

Snoop Dogg St. Ides promo Point of Sale poster

The West Coast artists really hit it big with the Corporate market. When you look at the St. Ides roster, 2/3 of the artists are L.A. Rappers and DJs. So-called L.A. Gangsta Rap was beginning its ascent, perhaps because in the West the climate is more acceptable for all year round street drinking. King Tee was one of the pioneers of Hooptie Rap, the Low Rider Car Culture cross-over, originally a Latin scene, to include the African American community . DJ Pooh was his DJ at the time, even though he is a legend as a DJ, but he became a big player in the Production side of the West Coast Hip-Hop scene as well. He featured as comedy relief in many early 90's Rap videos like "The Mack" in Ice Cube's Who's The Mack.

DJ Pooh is also better known now for co-writing and acting in the "Friday" film and recent Cartoon series with Ice Cube.

King Tee & DJ Pooh

"If you want to act a fool make sure St. Ides is in the place..." - King Tee

King Tee's Commercial

King Tee hopping out of the St. Ides Hooptie for a case

King Tee & DJ Pooh fighting over a case

DJ Pooh

DJ Pooh Commercial - Drink & Drive?

Super Pooh

DJ Pooh "big shots on the East Coast"

Wake up

Near miss with a black Mac truck full of Liquid death heading for a Hood near you...

DJ Pooh St. Ides Promo

Ice Cube, Mixed Messages and the Conscious Backlash

"We are at War!" Sister Soulja

"Sudz in da Hood"
Ice Cube - Embraced the Alcho-Dollar with a tight grip

Kill At Will-Ice Cube solo EP

Ice Cube after leaving N.W.A. reached out to Public Enemy and their Bomb Squad production team to produce much of his early solo releases. It was a shrewed move for two reasons. P.E. were the most popular groups in Conscious Hip-Hop Movement, so it cemented Cube as more than just a West Coast gang banger MC; but also the union shielded him from much of the N.W.A. fans backlash.

"Farrakhan's Flame Thrower" - Dr. Khalid Muhammad (middle) wIth Ice Cube (right) Photo credit - "The Man of Many Faces: Pt. 1: Uncovering the Truth About Dr. Malachi Z. York" by Yovan Christenson

As Cube continued to develop his more pro-Black consciousness sound, his songs became more outspoken and upfront. He aligned himself with the Nation Of Islam and its National Spokesman Dr. Khalid Muhammad (and later the New Black Panther Party). For example one of Dr. Muhammad's speeches feature on the controversial Cave B***h (Death Certificate album), and he even occasionally featured at Hip-Hop concerts & albums. The N.O.I. Minister for Los Angeles was also like Dr. Muhammed, very influencial within the Hip-Hop community, and the Organization was very popular there. Watts Rapper Kam (signed to Ice Cube's label "Lench Mob") was a Nation Rapper, and ex-N.W.A. band mate MC Ren was also affiliated.

Death Certificate - Ice Cube

But with the new message came obligations. Many within the Hip-Hop and Conscious movement, found his heavily publisiced endorsement, and almost spokesman role, for a particularly destructive avenue of the Alcohol Industry, on one hand; and his connection to the N.O.I., (who unlike the 5% Nation of Gods and Earths have strict No Alcohol and Smoking laws) confusing. On the back of Death Certificate is a split panel photo of Gang Bangers on one side, and on the other, the upright members of the F.O.I. Fruit Of Islam, the Security for the N.O.I. (and often Hip-Hop acts). Most Street guys, could understand the dichotomy and duality of the City existance, but murmerings of hypocrisy were starting to appear. "How can he be down with the destroyers of the Black Community while being part of the builders of that same community?"

Ice Cube speaking at a N.O.I. meeting in the early 90's

Ice Cube - St. Ides commercial

At this time Ice Cube, who without a doubt did more Commercials for St. Ides than all of the Rappers, came under a lot of peer pressure for his part in the promoting of Malt Liquor. Sista Soulja and the rest of Public Enemy were openly critical in several songs that appear to be aimed at him. Sister Souljah on her 1992 360 Degrees Of Power album, released on "Wild Buck Beer Rap" which featured what appeared to be a parody of Ice Cube (and probably others) - "MC Just Want To Get Paid". Although confusingly, Ice Cube also featured as a guest on the album.

"Violate you, a Muslim drinking brew" - Common Sense in The B***h In You

Chicago Afro-centric MC Common (then Common Sense) came out with a Pete Rock produced beef track The B***h In You, which out of nowhere was one of the most vicious battle records in Hip-Hop history. Ice Cube who after dodging high calibre N.W.A and Dr Dre diss records, still remained one of the most popular Rappers until that time.
"And videos wit white boys talking you get Wicked
Natural Born Killa, n***a you natural born God
Read, rich, got the nerve to say you rob
Hypocrite, I'm filling out your Death Certificate
Slanging bean pies and St. Ide's in the same sentence
Shoulda' repented, on the 16th of October"

Common Sense in The B***h In You

Common who although not very commercially successful, was an underground star, and as he approached him not on a "Gansta-fied" level, but on a doctrinal/Hip-Hop level, Ice Cubes foundations looked rocky.

He had just released the album The Predator, with a"diggidy-style" mix of Street Conscious, and Cypress Hill like weed influenced G-Rap songs. The cover features Ice Cube smoking what appears to be a Weed pipe, Common Sense pointed out things he felt were Hypocratical. The White Rock group The Red Hot Chilli Peppers guest in the video Wicked, while one of the tracks is an anti-interegration skit called "Integration". Common also calls him out on the confused meassage of Slanging or selling "Bean Pies", the vegetarian Whole food snacks that the N.O.I. sell to the community, and at the same time he was selling the scourge of Malt Liquor. The "repenting" he mentions on the October 16, is the Nation of Islam's Annual "International Day of Atonement and Reconciliation", the day the Million Man March was held.

The whole affair seemed to be getting out of hand, so the the Honourable Minister Loius Farrakhan arranged for a truce between the two rappers. Around that time, his disgruntled act Kam, came into conflict with him on the DJ Pooh dis track Whoop Whoop, also although DJ Muggs produced some of the The Predator tracks, Cypress Hill also had a dis track for him. So even though Ice Cube, DJ Pooh and Cypress were getting the 40 money, it evidentlt didn't stop them from crashing into each other...

Eric B. & Rakim

Eric B & Rakim

Eric B. & Rakim's promos were some of the most popular, and sound like un-released tracks from their last Don't Sweat The Technique album. As stated above, "the God Rakim Allah" as a 5%er did not have the same conflicts in Lessons, as Alchohol & even Drugs were allowed in its infancy , so remained untouched for the most part by the issue.

Eric B. & Rakim - St. Ides Promo 1 (1990)

Eric B. & Rakim -
St. Ides Promo 2 (1990)

The Geto Boys

Texas group Geto Boys, Willie D, Bushwick Bill and Scarface. Jamaican born Bushwick Bill after his much publicized Suicide attempt,recorded a St. Ides advert.

Ice Cube & The Geto Boys - St. Ides Commercial

Geto Boys - Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta

Cypress Hill

Cypress Hill - "I just Want to Kill A Can"

Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg

Dr Dre & Snoops Low Rider transforms into...

a St. Ides bottle...

An underage Snoop Dogg & Dr. Dre "pumpin' that (Liquid) bass"

DR.DRE & Snoop Dogg - St. Ides Commercial

Snoop Dogg & Tupac

Snoop & Tupac Special Brew Flavoured Malt Liquor, marketing "Ghetto Juice", a mixture of 40oz M.L. with Wine Cooler

As Tupac joined the St. Ides payroll, Biggie Smalls got too...

Biggie Smalls

Biggie Sipps


Biggie Smalls - St. Ides P.O.S.
So drunk he doesn't realise he is throwing his dub upside down...

Notorious BIG - St. Ides commercial

The mid 90's and Direct aim at the Black Market

Midnight Dragon - "I'm gonna get you sucka!"

"Genocide kickin' in yo back
How many times have you seen
A black fight a black
After drinkin' down a bottle
Or a malt liquor six-pack
Malt liquor bull
What it is is bullshit Colt
45 another gun to the brain
Who's sellin' us pain
In the hood another up to no good
Plan that's designed by the other man
But who drink it like water
One and on till the stores reorder it
Brothers cry broke but they still affordin' it
Sippin' it lick drink it down oh nooo
Drinkin' poison but they don't know
It used to be wine
A dollar and a dime
Same man, drink in another time
They could be hard as hell and don't give a damn
But still be a sucker to the liquor man!"
1 Million Bottlebags" - Public Enemy from Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black 1991

Beer Goggles

Elemental Hip-Hop culture magazine feature on the 40oz and the 40oz Crew

What's In A Name?

Perhaps the fact that it is a large quantity of Beer, and the demographic, not for the weak willed, the names are either named after Wild and Dangerous animals:
Wild Cat, Pit Bull, Crazy Horse, Dark Horse, King Cobra, Wildcat, Panther Coco, The Beast, The Cat, Stallion

Crazy Horse- "The Jack Daniel's of 40's"

To Guns and Fighting:
Black Belt, Boxer, Camo Silver Ice, Cyclone Power, Dakota Kick, Iron City, Laser, Magnum, Turbo 1000

When the Malt Liquor competition got fierce, it seemed like the Distilling marketing people really went off into the deep end. Many brands gained blatent Gambling, "Big Figures" and "Black" connectations, either colour wise or so-called "Ebonics" or "Hood" references:
Lucky Number 7, Evil Eye, Dirt Cheap... Ice, O.G. Premium???!!!
More on that later

Cool Colt - "The Newport flavoured 40..."

As the 90's progressed around, one of the most sinister trends in 40oz marketing arrived. At that time in Hip-Hop Newport Menthol Cigarettes were popular, Colt45 produced a "Menthol flavoured Malt Liquor", and several other brands followed suit. Menthol Cigarettes are blamed by some for not only obviously being carsonogenic, but allegedly lowering sperm count, or actually causing outright infertility. This in association with Menthol flavored Alcohol, appeared to be a Mega-ton Genocide bomb designed for the Black Community, evidence enough for many.

"Olde Gold" - Traditional, Ice 800 (Menthol like Cool Colt) & High Gravity(?)

The following excerpt, taken from, is from a post entitled “Kent and Newport Cigarettes Reaching the Black Community“:

"This 1971, 6-page marketing document from Lorillard proposes marketing strategies to increase sales of Newport cigarettes to lower income African Americans. One strategy was to create a Black advertising character called “Bold Soul”:

Newport "Bold Soul"

"…complete with dashiki and natural, the Bold Soul is intended to create a relevancy that associates Newport with modern Black pride and individuality. The Bold Soul was also used to project an image of masculinity. Headline, short copy and language…tended to concentrate of the blue collar aspect, as well as the lower-middle to lower income levels accounting for 83% of the Black population."** found here

Private Stock (not very private if its only a buck 50), again promoting the aspect of "power"...

Pit Bull promoting fighting breeds

As the companies saw an opening in the Market the messages and the target audience became less "Camo"-flaged, and the backlash against the "Hip-Hop-ified" marketing created strong condemnation within many spheres of the Black community.

Phat Boy- Using Hip-Hop termonology to market to Raps new generation

"Phat Boy NOTE: There was a lot of controversy surrounding Phat Boy & it's target market (that being underage black kids) due to its label/name/colors, which is why it was eventually pushed off the market."*

Four O Ice - Mock graffiti, "hood graffics"?!

Brick House "Its all good"...
Again mock Graffiti, but this time with a disclaimer!

"The bottom of the label reads: "Respect yourself & the property of others. Keep the peace. Never drink & drive. Be responsible AT ALL TIMES."

And the back of the label reads: "To the People, From the People. For every can and bottle purchased a portion of proceeds are put directly back into
your community. South Central LA, Oakland, Compton and others benefit from (CPP). Community Partners Program"*
Gee thanks - or as Chuck D would say "Shut em down!"

Satirical advert, suggesting 40oz & Graffiti go hand in (Can) Hand

Skateboard Drink Driving parody

Satirical 40oz bottle label, critisizing the cycle of violence and alcohol fuelled murder in inner city U.S.A.
The wide spread use of this phrase was popularized by Ice Cubes song Dead Homiez and John Singleton's film Boyz In The Hood

Afroman - Colt45 Christmas
Comedy Rap Album

Olde English 800 "8 Ball"
64 & 40oz versions "When enough is NOT enough!"

Mixtape with all of the St.Ides Adverts on it:

"Malt Liquor Hits"
"Crooked I"
MILS from Soul Assassins

Hip-Hop Brainwash?

Corporations and Health Watch provides activists, researchers, health professionals, policy makers and others with information and resources so they can act to change corporate practices that harm health. Bellow is a segment of their findings. More info here

"Industry Malt Practice: Maria Alaniz, a member of San Jose's Human Rights Commission, says "malt-liquor advertising is "the most lowlife" alcohol advertising--the worst of a manipulative lot."

Snoop Dogg St. Ides P.O.S.

"The malt liquor industry, drunk on high-octane sales to the black hip-hop nation, sets its sights on the Latino youth market

Hard-liquor commercials continued on Spanish-language television even while the liquor industry was voluntarily keeping them out of the rest of the media. [A] study organized by Alaniz in Redwood City, Union City and Gilroy showed that the typical Latino student in those cities passed between 10 and 61 billboard liquor ads each day on the way to school

Although only a handful of Latino rappers have done malt liquor commercials, the rap/hip-hop connection is the key to understanding how malt liquor advertising has already penetrated the Latino youth market."

"Deathrow" (nodiggidy) Mixtape
213 (Snoop, Warren G, and Nate Dogg.) - St. Ides promo EP
Track titles:
01. St. Ides In The LBC
02. When We Sippin On The Brew
03. Drank Anthem
04. Dogg Food & Drank
found here

"Hip-hop is not stratified along racial lines in the same way as the rest of the country," Themba says. "Advertisers have turned hip-hop into a single, multicultural market, with black kids as the 'opinion leaders.' It's called the 'hip-hop nation.' When they get black rappers to do ads for malt liquor, they're reaching black kids, Latinos and everybody else who identifies with the music."***

Hip-Hop Corporatism, Soul for Sale

"Sizzurp's attractive packaging and popular name make the brand a must have." - Dipset's Sizzurp Brand statement

50 Cent at General Motors

Since that period every fibre of the Hip-Hop movement has been up for grabs. Rapper driven Reality T.V. shows, Car Collaborations with Global Giants, Shoe and Clothes lines; it is a multi-Billion Dollar buisness, and i guess all most people really strive for is success, and who are we to judge. The Music industry, Organized Crime and the Alcohol industry have always been connected, and now some of the most powerful Alcohol Distributers own many of the Record labels, so it is a dream market move for them, Conglomerates direct marketing their wares, directly into the minds of the young music fans. Hip-Hop is also the most openly competitive Genre, so it reflects in the constant bar raising.

Is it Art reflecting life?

Is it really surprising that "Certified Gangsta's" Dipset released
Sizzurp. Sizzurp replicates the Ghetto scourge of the South and Mid-West, where the drinking of Codine based Perscription Cough Medicine, regularly kills the people who become addicted to it.

"That Purple Punch"
Dipset "The New Black Panthers" - Jim Jones
Red + Blue = Purple

Codine based Grape flavored Cough Medicine the cheap "legal" high

Rappers regularly product place luxury items, but what happens when Hip-Hop becomes nothing but a sales pitch????

1970's "A completely unique experience..."

More in depth look at the history and more info on the history of the 40oz here

More reading:

*The excellent and funny is a site dedicated to documenting the 40oz market
A majority of the Bottle photos, Posters, P.O.S. featured & many more 40oz promos found
here (Many thanks to Bruz and the guys at the site who kindly allowed me to use the imagery)
Check they're T-shirts here

"Liquid Trouble" By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor From the July 24-30, 1997 issue of Metro.


Anonymous said...

Good work
Keep it up bro!

Anonymous said...

Amazing article.
Loved reading about the history of St. Ides.
I started drinking it in 1992. They didn't sell it in Canada until 1997 (and stopped in 2007) but luckily I live real close to Detroit so I'd go over there 2 or 3 times a week to pick up some St. Ides. I used go to the liqour store on Woodward and Palmer and was a regular customer there so they started giving me all the St. Ides posters that came out. I have a huge collection of them now.

Ed Spoon said...

brilliant. as a kid for some unknown reason lando calrissian was my favourite star wars character...i think it was that snappy cape he wore in ESB...and now he is even cooler...

The Kool Skool said...

Yo MR Spoons Billy Dee is The gift that keeps on giving!

Unknown said...

"Old ENGLISH 800/cause that's my brand"

Not to be petty but Ni**a please!

Dug the article though


The Kool Skool said...

Crest your right!!! I got it off some lyrics site, I didn't even notice, they always have mistakes in them! Thanks for the heads up!
Peace from the Kool Skool

Anonymous said...

Billy D Williams isnt Apollo Creed Carl Weathers is you asshole

The Kool Skool said...

My bad, great thanks for clearing that up "Assnonymous"!

Anonymous said...

I met my EX while drinking Crazy Horse. Maaaaaannnnn FUCK THAT SHIT!

The Kool Skool said...

^ Hahahahaha!

mike said...

por lo que veo asap rocky tambien esta muy enganchado a esa bebida.good work and maximum respect from spain.paz

Benovite said...

Old English 800
Yeah that's my brand
Take it in a bottle
40, Quart, or Can
Drink it like a mad man
Yes I do
Fuck tha police
And a 502"