It may not be legal to promote hard alcohol to minors but I assure you, it’s happening anyway. Especially for African American children who see “far more” alcohol ads than other kids. And fingers are pointed straight at you Jay-Z, as well as music colleagues Ludacris and P. Diddy. However, they’re hardly alone in their alcohol shilling. The music industry is replete with overt alcoholic references for underage fans to recite by heart.
Msnbc reports that, “A new study puts some fresh data behind long-standing concerns about alcohol marketing to black kids.” According to researchers, African American kids (aged 12 to 20) see way more boozy ads both in print magazines and on TV. The findings reportedly reveal two important components at play. Black kids are at the receiving end of way more media than general youth (they watch 53 percent more TV according to a 2010 study). But more importantly, many alcohol ads go out of their way to target black children.
Despite senior vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Frank Coleman, proclaiming that his industry is “totally opposed to underage drinking and spends millions of dollars a year fighting it,” a quick gander at the prominent artists kids recognize would prove otherwise.
P. Diddy, who is the richest rapper in the entertainment industry, took his personal brand even farther when he partnered with Ciroc, prominently appearing in a variety of ads. His endorsement even included having a drink “The Diddy” being named after him. Not too far behind him, Ludacris launched his own cognac to coincide with his 33rd birthday. Jay-Z, the second wealthiest rapper and not to be outdone by such business ventures, recently debuted is own brand of booze: D’ussé.
Other artists who have less economic weight to throw around, but are nevertheless recognizable, also traffic in explicit boozy lyrics. The always identifiable Nicki Minaj was featured in the summer 2011 hit “Bottoms Up” rattling off all the drinks she’d like to partake in. Her taste for everything from margaritas to rosé sold nearly three million copies.
But nothing perhaps compares to “Patron Tequila,” the most transparent advertisement for any hard alcohol I’ve ever seen in which Lil’ Jon and Eve (along with a cast of other scantily clad ladies know as the Paradiso Girls) describe drinking so much they vomit — and happily. That 2009 single reached the number three slot on on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play, eventually being parlayed in multiple remixes.
Alcohol advertising doesn’t just come down to print ads or restrictions on TV commercials. In fact, such a fixation on those mediums alone fails to address how kids are actually consuming media in our increasingly digital era. We’re looking at a trend that can’t be isolated to certain platforms, as the plugging of name brand alcohol has bled over into much more powerful outlets: songs as advertisements. Who needs a billboard ad when kids can very well sing themselves all the way to the liquor store?