Fresh off yesterday’s nod to Ton Loc, yet another hip-hop reference: What Would Jay-Z Drive? – Tracking rappers’ favorite cars and clothes, from Slate. Shockingly, there are some corporations who don’t want to be associated with gangstas:

Some liquor companies and clothiers learned how much impact a hit song can have faster than you can say “Pass the Courvoisier.” Last year, the Village Voice pointed out how some marketers angle for lyrical product placement in what is widely seen as the most the most authentic form of cultural expression going. “There is genuine brand endorsement inspired by an affinity for a product,” that piece notes. “And then there’s name-dropping with the hopes that a marketing director will come bearing free goods–or a check.”

On the other hand, James points out, brands also need to worry about being “hijacked”–€”that is, getting shout-outs they don’t particularly want. The high-end fashion firm Burberry, for example, has not exactly embraced hip-hop fans with open arms. And sometimes a brand comes up in a context that may not have been a company’s first choice, like when Lil’ Kim brags about skill at—well, when she raps, “Let me show you what I’m all about/ How I make a Sprite can disappear in my mouth.” Yet any company would invite a firestorm if it explicitly discouraged rappers’ praise.

So, the liquor industry is fine with the free publicity from thug endorsements but not high-end British haberdashers. Who would have guessed?

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.