pdiddy ciroc

Albert Phillips: Alcohol, Hip-Hop, and Irresponsible Endorsement Deals

By Albert Phillips

From trendy clothing and expensive cars to popular alcohol and carbonated drinks, rappers have been receiving endorsement deals from major companies for decades. The days of just relying on music alone to make loot are just about over. Just recently, Philadelphia rapper, Cassidy, landed an endorsement deal from Trojan after releasing “Condom Style” a remake of Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” Though many mocked the pop track, Hulkshare.com rumored that the deal may have possibly been in the seven-figure range.

But is there anything wrong with endorsements? It’s well established that it’s a great promotional and money-making venture, but does it ever clash with morals and values? Should rappers choose their endorsement deals more wisely?

Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Snoop Dog, P.Diddy, and a host of other successful rap artists have all signed lucrative endorsement deals to represent one beverage – alcohol. In the 2012 Hip Hop world, the most noticeable of all the alcoholic drinks was Diageo’s Ciroc vodka. Making regular appearances on the Forbes list for Hip Hop artists, Diddy has been said to have made millions from his joint venture with the London-based company. Ciroc has been featured in music videos, vlogs (video blogs), and has been a major sponsor of Hip Hop parties and other gatherings for the last few years.

On one hand, you have a multi-million dollar mogul, rapper, and entrepreneur persuading you to indulge in his product, then on the other hand, you have a country that is dealing with massive health complications related to alcohol mis-use.

Let’s face the facts here. In 2009, drugs and alcohol accounted for over 60,000 deaths in America. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are serious problems around the country, especially in black and lower-income neighborhoods. Liquor store density and excessive alcohol use has been linked to youth homicide, vandalism, car crashes, and various other grave issues.

In 2011, University of California, Riverside researchers published information from their study on the correlation between liquor store density and youth homicide rates in the September Edition of the Drug and Alcohol Review Journal. Taking other critical factors like poverty, drugs, guns, and gangs into consideration, the researchers determined that a higher density of liquor stores, making alcohol easily accessible to youth, contributed significantly to higher rates of homicide for teenagers and young adults.

Is alcohol the only problem? No. It would be foolish to assume that simply removing alcohol from the proximity of certain communities would eliminate crime, but it could make a difference. Ask yourself how many alcohol posters and billboards are posted up in your community? What if they were replaced with advertisements that advocated healthy living and exercising?

Rappers aren’t entirely responsible for all the chaos either, but we can’t ignore the role they play in influencing our youth.  At some point we must hold them accountable for their actions. There is nothing wrong with making a profit, but when you’re investing time and energy into the manufacturing of self-destructive adolescents and young adults, the blood that spills is on your hands too.

About Albert Phillips

Albert Phillips is a freelance journalist and student at Morgan State University. He also manages www.realityspeaksbookstore.com. Check out his blog at http://freedumbnow.tumblr.com.

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