'The Economist', Jay-Z and the Cristal Brouhaha

The Economist magazine recently reported that an executive from champagne seller Cristal regarded its hip-hop cachet as "unwelcome attention." The report angered rapper Jay-Z, and though the company issued a statement saying the official had never made such a comment, Jay-Z says he will no longer sell Cristal at his upscale clubs, nor will he drink it anymore himself.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

We've reported so much on product placement that it's surprising to find a company that might be uncomfortable with the place its name turned up. The company is the maker of Cristal champagne. It can cost you $600 a bottle, and those high-dollar bottles have become symbols for hip-hop artists.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. JAY-Z (Rapper): (Rapping) You can't even drink Cristal (unintelligible). You've got to drink Cristal. The price of red wine (unintelligible).

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Jay-Z is among a number of artists who use Cristal, or Cristal, if you will. In addition to drinking it, some pour it on their fans or just dump it on the ground to prove they can afford to. And then, somewhere amid all this conspicuous consumption, Jay-Z picked up a special issue of The Economist.

WERTHEIMER: The business magazine reported that an executive from Cristal's maker regarded its hip-hop cache as unwelcome attention. Jay-Z accused the company of racism, at which point the company issued a statement saying the official had never made such a comment, and that the company has the utmost regard for all forms of art and culture - including hip-hop.

INSKEEP: Jay-Z does not accept that, and says he will no longer sell Cristal at his upscale clubs, nor will he drink it anymore himself.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Children: (Singing) It's a hard knock life us. It's a hard knock life for us. Instead of treated we get tricked. Instead of kicks and we get kicked. It's a hard knock life.

Mr. JAY-Z: (Rapping) From standing on the corners bopping to driving some of the hottest cars New York has ever seen. For dropping some of the hottest verses rap has ever heard…

INSKEEP: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

WERTHEIMER: And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

(Soundbite of song, “Crazy in Love”)

Unidentified Man: (Rapping) So crazy right now, most incredibly. She girl, (unintelligible).

Ms. BEYONCE KNOWLES (Singer): You ready?

Unidentified Man: (Rapping) See that history in the making, part two…

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