Hip-Hop's Shorthand Branding

How Luxury Brands Learn About Themselves Through Song Lyrics

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This week's Billboard celebrates the 50th anniversary of its legendary Hot 100 Chart, so if you want to know who's had the most No. 1 hits, who's spent the most time on the charts, what the all-time top rock song was (you'd be surprised!) and you generally geek out for lists, check it out.

What also caught my eye, following our recent post about Chris Brown being paid by Wrigley's to write their product into his songs, was an article in the same issue that highlighted which brands and products were most frequently name-checked in hip-hop lyrics from 2003 to 2005. The original compiler of the report, Lucian James of luxury-goods consultancy Agenda, neatly summarizes why hip-hop and luxury brands fit together so well:
"The thing you notice [about] a lot of the main players that always get mentioned -- Hennessy, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac -- is these brands always crop up because they are the best shorthand for success and material wealth," James says. "It's a poetic way to use language. When you say 'Benz' you're not just mentioning a product, you're connecting to a whole set of values and how you see yourself in just four letters."

... "They (key hip-hop artists) were wearing/using them and talking about them. It was the first wave of that, and now it's kind of matured. Now it's a lot more structured. Luxury brands have learned more about themselves from their relationship with hip-hop in the past four to five years than in the past 10."
As we commented the other week, the hip-hop community has indeed learnt a lot from their early associations and is streets ahead, both commercially and culturally, in understanding the benefits of branding to their own businesses.
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