Jay-Z Leads Cristal Boycott

AP, June 15, 2006

NEW YORK—Rappers have long proclaimed their love for Cristal, frequently mentioning the high-end champagne in songs and popping the corks of the clear, gold-labeled bottles in music videos and at nightclubs.

But the makers of Cristal don’t seem to feel the same way about hip-hop—at least that’s how one rapper-turned-record executive sees it.

Multi-platinum rapper Jay-Z, now president and chief executive officer of Def Jam Records, has decided to boycott his once-beloved bubbly over comments from the managing director of the company that produces it.

In a special summer issue of The Economist magazine, Frederic Rouzaud, managing director of Louis Roederer, said the company viewed the affection for his company’s champagne from rappers and their fans with “curiosity and serenity.”

Asked by the magazine if the association between Cristal and the “bling lifestyle” could be detrimental, Rouzaud replied:

“That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”

The comments left a bad taste in Jay-Z’s mouth. The rapper said he would pull Cristal from his small chain of popular sports lounges—where bottles of Cristal sell for $450 (&euro357) and $600 (&euro476)—as well as from his personal flutes.

“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 in a statement released Wednesday. “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.”

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