Nipsey Hussle is an admitted member of Crenshaw’s Rollin 60s Crips street gang. The city of Los Angeles is actually the birthplace of the Bloods and Crips street gang. It comes as no surprise why Nipsey Hussle would have a huge problem with Louis Vuitton’s latest Crip and Blood-inspired fashion item rags.
Nipsey took to IG to slam Louis Vuitton referring to the popular French fashion design company as culture vultures.
Louis Vuitton wasn’t always comfortable with aligning itself with African American and Hip Hop culture.
T.I. once caught flack from Louis Vuitton and Gucci for using their rag products in his “Swing Ya Rag” music video.
“We did it, and it came out hot,” Tip said of the video, according to MTV. “Louis and Gucci started trippin’ about it. They were saying we were infringing, in one way or another. They weren’t happy about it. They didn’t want it to come out. But it’s hot, though.”
T.I. makes mention of Louis and Gucci rags in his song, rapping, “I just take my Louis rag out and wave it ’round in the air/Take my Gucci rag out and wave it ’round in the air.”
Black culture has long been instrumental in bolstering the brands of multibillion-dollar companies with no monetary compensation in return.
Migos’ “Versace” featuring Drake was one of the top Hip Hop tracks in Summer 2013. It peaked at number 99 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list. The single was subsequently embraced by the brand’s renowned designer and figurehead Donatella Versace and played during the conclusion of Milan’s fashion week in late September.
Migos were appreciative of this honor, but revealed during an interview with Global Grind that Versace had not reached out to them.
“Donatella hasn’t reached out to us,” Quavo said. “I want some swag though, Donatella. Let me get something cause I’m tired of spending one rack, two racks, three racks, four racks everyday.”
Migos’ may have unintentionally made Versace millions of dollars, but sadly don’t even know it. The single proved to be constant, “free” promotion for the established Italian Fashion Company. It was streamed every hour on the radio, played in the club and boasts millions of views on the net. The “Versace” music video, which features Versace clothes and accessories, was a fixture on BET’s 106 & Park and was essentially a daily ad spot for the network’s large African American audience. Not to mention, Drake’s celebrity power brought mainstream attention to the track.
Versace experienced record growth in 2012 after seeing a 20 percent increase in revenue of $553.8 million amid rising global sales, which gained approximately 40 percent to $304.2 million as North American revenues doubled, Forbes.com reports.
This comes following dismal sales in 2009 that put the luxury clothing brand on the brink of bankruptcy.
In a Financial Times report obtained by Forbes, Versace had an EBTIDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) of $480 million in 2012.
Many Hip Hop heads may recall another smash hit song that paid homage to a clothing item over a decade ago.
Nelly’s “Air Force Ones,” an ode to the popular Nike shoe wear, peaked at number three on Billboard’s Hot 100 list.
Nike received free marketing for its shoe all thanks to the St. Louis MC. Looking into the financial aspects of the hot single, Nelly paid a hefty bill.
He paid for the studio time to record the track. He paid his producer for the hot beat. He paid a videographer to film his video shoot. He secured some of St. Louis’ most popular sports athletes to make cameo appearances in the video, including Rams’ players Marshall Faulk, Tory Holt and D’Marco Farr.
In the business world, Nike would have had to pay these sports athletes to appear in a commercial spot.
Cristal, a high-priced champagne, was another brand that received constant free promotion from the Hip Hop community. In MTV Cribs, it became a ritual for many Hip Hop entertainers to open their fridge and show off their gold bottle. It was even a fixture in music videos.
But Jay-Z ended Hip Hop’s affection for the champagne after calling the company “racist.”
Frederic Rouzaud, managing director of Louie Roederer, the company that produces Cristal, allegedly told The Economist magazine he viewed Hip Hop’s love for the champagne with “curiosity and serenity,” according to USA Today.
The magazine went on to ask Rouzaud if Cristal’s association with the “bling lifestyle” could be detrimental to company, to which he replied, “That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”
The “Holy Grail” rapper called Rouzaud’s words a “slap in the face” during an AOL interview with Steve Stout.
“You promoting something you like. It’s not even promoting it, you’re just talking about it. Hip Hop is about expression,” he said. “You’re talking about something you like and it catches on in culture. You’re an unpaid spokesman for this brand. You’re generating millions and millions of dollars for that brand. And for that brand not to say at least thank you…”
Jay led a boycott of Cristal and even put his dislike for the brand on wax in song “On To The Next One,” rapping, “I used to drink Cristal, but them motherf*ckers racist/So I switch gold bottles on to that Spade s**t.”
Jay-Z’s former Roc-A-Fella business associate Dame Dash told MTV News he wouldn’t promote another company’s brand in his music unless he was getting paid.
“Unless someone is paying me a billion dollars or offering equity, we don’t play that,” Dash told MTV. “That’s never come up, because once you get that powerful that someone wants to pay me to do something, I don’t need it. I’ve heard about companies asking [artists] to do that, but it hasn’t really happened to us yet.”
World-renowned brands are continuously seeking ways to market to the black community and using Hip Hop to do so.
Despite representing only 13 percent of the U.S. population, black spending power is expected to reach $1.1 Trillion by 2015, according to the Nielsen Company. As the Black community gets poorer, the companies that market to this community continue to get richer.
Hip Hop was started in impoverished African American and Latino communities, but African Americans’ influence is consistently being used to make others foreign to the culture richer.
Meek Mill shed light on the black culture’s influence on the business practices of brands during an interview with Karen Civil.
Meek had much to say about Reebok following their swift decision to part ways with Rick Ross following a controversial verse uttered in Rocko’s “U.E.N.O.”
Ross spoke of date raping a woman with the drug “Molly.”
Rocko – U.O.E.N.O. Ft. Future, Usher, Rick Ross, A$AP Rocky, Wiz Khalifa & 2 Chainz (Video) from Gino Spangenberg on Vimeo.
Meek said that Reebok was a fledgling company before signing Hip Hop acts Rick Ross, Swizz Beatz and Tyga.
Meek likened Reebok’s business strategy to prostitution.
“These companies actually follow our culture and make money off our culture and pay us like a pimp out,” he said. “Oh this bitch ain’t working, put her out on the strip.”
Versace didn’t make Migos’ song hot. The Atlanta rapper’s flow and style made it hot. They could have been rapping about Armani and it would’ve achieved the same success.
If Migos’ were smart they could’ve promoted their own clothing brand in the song and benefited two-fold. Or at the very least, struck an endorsement deal with a known brand before dropping the song.
In Migos’ interview with Global Grind, Quavo stated he was only interested in receiving free clothes from Versace because he is tired of spending “racks” everyday on the brand.
Quavo makes it clear he along with lovers of his Billboard hit will continue adding to the wealth of Versace.
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