Hip-hop artist and producer will.i.am says hip-hop is more powerful than business people give it credit for.
According to will.i.am, hip-hop lyrics have the power to turn a product into a best-seller. Artists, he says, often promote brands in their lyrics without reaping any benefits from the free promotion.
“People don’t realize the power of hip-hop business, [sic] we just doing stuff Air Force Ones like yeah my Adidas right. Gucci gang, Gucci gang Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci, yeah, like well, you think Gucci was like yo we need to have a new slogan, I got it, I got it, yeah,” will.i.am told Big Boy in an interview on June 13.
Approaching Coors for Corporate Bucks
Will.i.am effectively persuaded the Coors family, the owners of the beer company Coors Brewing Company, that one of his upcoming albums would be a great investment and would be a “soundtrack” to their product.
Will.i.am explained to Big Boy how the collab with Coors came about.
“Do you know any drink company so I could do a soundtrack to a beer? I was at the club the other day, and I realized that people go to clubs to drink and the music’s for free, but they gotta buy drinks. Why [sic] don’t somebody attach music to a drink on purpose, not accidental?” will.i.am recalled.
will.i.am reached out to the Coors family and he and his team headed to Colorado to pitch the idea in 2001.
“I meet with the Coors family, I’m like, yo I want to do a soundtrack to your beard right Rockies,’ and so then they’re like ‘we’re not in the music business,’ I’m like yes you are; every single bar that I go to is playing music and if I go to a bar that’s not playing music people ain’t buying your drink so you are in a music business because you help the music business have business regardless if they’re buying it at a bar,” will.i.am said.
Coors embraced the opportunity to support will.i.am’s album with its lesser-known brand Zima, a clear malt beverage with a lemon-lime flavor and the slogan “get the party started.”
will.i.am and Beat Generation self-distributed album “Must B 21” using Coors’ money rather of releasing it through a record label. Since the project was independent;y funded, the artist retained ownership of the album’s copyright, including the master recordings.
“Must B 21” is the second solo studio project released by the Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am. The album was released on Sept. 23, 2003, and it was made possible thanks to will.i.am’s pitch to Coors.
The Coors partnership carried over to his band Black Eyed Peas with their third studio album, “Elephunk.”
The rapper helped redefine Zima’s brand image, suggesting through his lyrics that Zima does not start the party, opting for the phrase “Let’s get started.”
The song “Let’s Get Started” was utilized in a Zima advertisement in 2004, and was a mega hit for the Black Eyed Peas.
Coors’ Controversial Past
The will.i.am project no doubt helped the company make inroads in the Black community, even if Zima was not explicitly marketed as a Coors brand. The Coors family has long been accused of racism and it is an issue the company has seemingly worked to overcome, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Bill Coors, for example, told minority business owners in Denver in 1984 that Black people from Africa lacked the “intellectual capacity to succeed” and added that if American Blacks traveled to the African countries from which their ancestors were taken by slave traders, they would be glad they were living in a country with a free-enterprise system, “a land of opportunity,” according to The Washington Post.
He later apologized, but the damage was done.
Following the remarks, there was a boycott of the company’s products. For one, 500 liquor stores in southern California joined the boycott, per The New York Times, and Coors’ market share in California fell from 40 percent in 1977 to 14 percent in 1984, a 65 percent decrease, according to Colorado Public Radio.