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    Rap Music: The Classy Brand Serial Killer?

    The Rolex gave birth to a glossy, bling characteristic amongst watches. Tying in with the diamond flooded rap culture emerging throughout the 1990s and 2000s; the Swiss watch brand enjoyed a reputation of hipness and youthfulness. They had become a craze. However, short term success had been exchanged for longevity. What is young dies out with age and what comes up quickly, falls even faster.

    Within no time, thanks in part to the vulgarity of the brand’s main promotions disassociated, bashful rappers Rolexes, unlike Omega watches, had lost their elegance. In fashion, such misfortunes can kill a brand and it is interesting to note how both Gucci and Louis Vuitton distanced themselves from T.I.’s Swing Ya Rag song in 2008, by refusing the video to be released. T.I. himself stated:

    It’s one of those corporate things where they don’t wanna be associated or affiliated with a certain type of brand. A T.I. video ain’t the best look in their eyes right now. No harsh feelings.

    That’s a cold reality. But in reality, it’s a wise move by both clothing brands. As ruthless as it may seem, rap music has the ability to destroy any element of class a brand or clothing item may have. Just look at Gucci scarves a product Swing Ya Rag was in large based around. A combination of rap culture and unauthentic reproduction turned it into a fashion sensation amongst urban, hoodish young people the complete opposite of who Gucci are trying to target. It’s nothing personal, but placing ones brand into the hands of the urban, while it’s promoted by the same rappers that whether you like to admit it or not promote a life of guns, drugs and the subjugation and suppression of women; is brand suicide.

    Now there are two flipsides. The first is that many of these rappers aren’t promoting such lifestyles for the sake of it, and are plainly relating their life story. Furthermore, it ought to be acknowledged that many also promote other positive lifestyles some all the while endorsing that which is derogatory. Human beings are complex creatures and the beauty of rap is that it expresses all elements of our character the good and the bad.

    Nevertheless, when it comes to those who are taken for idols, the art of expression is the art of promotion. When a star claims to have a product or item of clothing, they are advertently or inadvertently endorsing it. Such is the power they behold. Some would argue that the matter doesn’t so much concern the rapper’s overall image, but the topic of the very song they promote the brand or product in. Swing Ya Rag contained a derogatory reference to women, while most of the time Rolex watches are promoted in rap videos it is in some way or another a tool for self glorification – a topic which violence, the subjugation of the female gender or drugs often goes hand in hand with in this genre.

    It is more necessary to note that by the time Gucci and Louis Vuitton disassociated their brands with T.I., the rapper had not only already been through his fair share of criminal charges. In fact earlier that year the he pleaded guilty to U.S. federal weapons charges. This would suggest that it may very well be the general image of a rapper, rather than the content of the music itself – even if the two can go hand in hand.

    However both Kanye West and Jay-Z are testimony to the refutation of this theory. Check both rappers’ collaboration with Louis Vuitton. Both are rappers whose lyrics at times entail such derogatory elements. What matters then IS the image of the rapper and how classy they themselves are marketed.

    Perhaps then, with the right Hip Hop artist marketing, rap music could become a good friend of major brands and great long term promotion tool.