Rapper Jay-Z boycotts 'racist' Cristal

  • Friday 16 June 2006

The US hip-hop community is set to boycott luxury Champagne Cristal after rapper Jay-Z accused the boss of Champagne house Louis Roederer of racism.

Jay-Z, who like other rappers and hip-hop artists frequently mentions Cristal in his lyrics, has also banned the cult cuvée from his ‘upscale sports lounge’, the 40/40 Club, replacing it with Dom Pérignon and Krug.

The boycott came after new Roederer managing director Frédéric Rouzaud told a special edition of The Economist that the house viewed Cristal’s association with rap ‘with curiosity and serenity’.

Asked if he thought the association would harm 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.’

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

Cristal has been much in evidence in the past at Jay-Z’s concerts, and his number one hit Hard Knock Life includes the lyric: ‘Let’s sip the Cris and get pissy-pissy.’ Other rappers and hip-hop artists, such as Kanye West, 50 Cent and Mos Def, have shown similar allegiance to the brand.

Louis Roederer is yet to officially respond to Jay-Z’s comments, although one source close to the company pointed out that the phrase ‘unwelcome attention’ was a sub-heading in The Economist, not a comment from Rouzaud. The source described the accusation of racism as ‘ludicrous’.

Another Champagne industry insider pointed out that Dom Pérignon and Krug have been courting the hip-hop community for some time – and that their marketing budgets dwarf that of Roederer.

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