Rapper and club owner Jay-Z will not be drinking
his formerly beloved Cristal champagne anymore. Nor will any of the patrons of his hip hop clubs: he's pulling Cristal from the menu and replacing it with Dom Perignon and Krug. Furious after hearing comments from a Cristal spokesperson about how rappers loving the champagne constituted "unwanted attention" for the venerable champagne house, Jay-Z says the company is racist.
"It has come to my attention that the managing director of Cristal, Frederic Rouzaud views the `hip-hop' culture as 'unwelcome attention,'" Jay-Z said. "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."
Jay-Z plans to replace Cristal - which a club spokesman said it could never stock enough of - with Krug and Dom Perignon at the Manhattan and Atlantic City locations of his 40/40 Club. (There are plans for clubs in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong, according to the club's Web site.)
Rouzaud did not return a message seeking comment. But it was the writer of the article, and not Rouzaud, who used the phrase "unwelcome attention." After Rouzaud's comments about Dom Perignon and Krug, scribe Gideon Rachman wrote: "Both Dom Perignon and Krug have had their share of unwelcome attention, too."
This reminds of the Cadillac Escalade situation. When Cadillac execs introduced the Escalade, they were marketing the car to affluent, upscale yuppies. But the car quickly became the vehicle of choice of affluent young hip hop stars and became associated with a "MTV Pimp My Ride" kind of style. But Cadillac just rolled with it -- and sales are high, despite high gas prices.
We think Louis Roederer should go into spin-control mode and reach out to Jay-Z with an apology, like Hermes did when a store employee offended Oprah in the infamous Oprah/Hermes/Paris debacle. Although we have to say that our favorite champagne right now is Perrier Jouet. Perhaps Beyonce might whisper that name in Jay-Z's ear.