By Chris Yuscavage
Companies employing rappers to sell products is nothing new. But over the last few weeks, rappers have turned up on TV commercials at a fairly consistent rate. Kid Cudi and Jim Jones stumped for sneaker brand Converse, Diddy popped up in a Macy‘s Christmas (yes, Christmas! Already!) ad and, most recently, Rick Ross shook off rumors about an alleged sex tape to appear—alongside a talking medallion made in his likeness—in a commercial for Nike (Boom!). That got us to thinking, what are the coolest hip-hop influenced commercials of all-time? So we uncovered 10 of our favorites, check the tape.
The Rapper: Jay-Z
The Product: Hewlett-Packard
The Commercial: On Kanye West’s 2005 song, “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix),” Hov told us he was “a business, man!” And he proved it during this commercial when he used his hands to show the world everything that the “CEO of Hip-Hop” had a hand in at the time.
The Rapper: Drake
The Product: Sprite
The Commercial: Okay, so not everyone will agree that Drizzy deserves a spot on this list, because this commercial—featuring Drake’s hit single, “Forever”—was actually pretty strange. But, consider this: At the time that Sprite drafted Drake (and his producer Noah “40” Shebib) to appear in this spot, his debut album, Thank Me Later, wasn’t even out yet. The soft drink company was simply obeying rap fans’ thirst for more from the Canadian rapper.
The Rapper: T-Pain
The Product: Bud Light
The Commercial: File this under “The day we knew Autotune had definitely/certainly/without a doubt jumped the shark.” Nonetheless, T-Pain’s rise from “the guy who’s in love with a stripper” to “the guy in a Bud Light commercial” made us chuckle when he saw him singing about guacamole.
The Rapper: Young Jeezy
The Product: Boost Mobile
The Commercial: If you watched last Friday’s episode of “Gangland,” then you know that the Black Mafia Family—the infamous gang that helped Jeezy launch his career—used push-to-talk as a means of communicating. So imagine our amazement when we saw Jeezy using that same technology to catch a check once he cemented himself as a commercially-viable rapper.
The Rapper: Run-DMC
The Product: Gap
The Commercial: Older rap heads might not appreciate seeing Rev Run, DMC and Jam Master Jay change the lyrics to their classic song “Peter Piper” to hawk Gap original fit jeans, but there’s no denying that it helped introduced a whole new generation to Run-DMC’s music. Talk about bridging the gap.
The Rapper: Dr. Dre
The Product: Dr. Pepper
The Commercial: After Dr. J, Dr. Love, fictional character Dr. Frasier Crane, it was only a matter of time until Dr. Pepper cut Dr. Dre a check to appear in a commercial for their “Trust me, I’m a doctor” campaign. And lucky for rap fans, though Detox might not be coming out anytime soon, they did get some new music out of the deal.
The Rappers: 2Pac Shakur and Snoop Dogg
The Product: St. Ides
The Commercial: Back in the day, when companies were still a little iffy on giving rappers their own commercials, St. Ides gave Ice Cube, Wu-Tang Clan and, most notably, “2 of Americaz Most Wanted” the opportunity to earn a little extra dough by lending their names and voices to an advertisement for malt liquor. Just think: This opportunity wouldn’t exist without commercials like this.
The Rappers: Diddy and Xzibit
The Product: Diet Pepsi
The Commercial: A commercial for Diet Pepsi—or a spot about the ridiculousness of trend-setting in the hip-hop community? Whatever. We’ll be in the back of Mr. X to the Z’s tricked-out “Pimp My Ride” Pepsi truck if you need us!
The Rapper: Lil Wayne
The Product: Gatorade
The Commercial: Know what’s G? A rapper using his voice to make money off a commercial for a brand that typically only hands out endorsement deals to athletes. Though, for the record, Weezy’s appearance in a LeBron James Nike commercial definitely comes in a close second.
The Rappers: Eminem and Jay-Z
The Product: DJ Hero
The Commercial: Hm… Here’s an idea, what if Eminem and Jay-Z performed at a concert together? How great would that be? It’d be freakin’ epic, right?! Oh, wait. They just did that? And it was epic? Well, credit this commercial with doing it first. Niiiice!
What’s your favorite hip-hop influenced commercial of all-time? Leave a comment and let us know!