The Best Hip-Hop and R&B Soda Commercials of the 90s
For years, hip-hop has had an interesting and lucrative relationship with corporate America.
Take last year for example. With the release of its annual list of top earning hip-hop acts, Forbes noted that rappers including Diddy, Drake, JAY-Z, Nicki Minaj and Kendrick Lamar earned millions in endorsements. From electronics, to liquor, to cosmetics, to sneakers and clothing, you name it, corporate America came calling on hip-hop's biggest names, and they definitely had to pay to play. Drake reportedly earned millions off endorsements alone.
But from early on, hip-hop has always had a very specific relationship with beverages, and not just the alcoholic kind (remember those infamous St. Ides commercials in the 90s)? Rap's partnership with global soft drink brands, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, has been longstanding.
In the 90s, when corporations were beginning to look at rap music and see big dollar signs, the relationship was forged and cemented, spawning a host of memorable commercials starring everyone from Young MC and MC Hammer, to Busta Rhymes and Nas.
Take a look at some of the most memorable soda (or pop) hip-hop commercials from the 90s.
Young MC, Pepsi Commercial
In the early 90s when Pepsi decided to move away from their traditional red, white, and blue logo cans, they called on Young MC to deliver fresh and fun rhymes to make the switch. This was one of the earliest partnerships between a hip-hop artist and a major soda company.
Kid 'N Play, Sprite Commercial
Not one to miss the mark on a trend, Sprite (a Coca-Cola product) called on the popular hip-hop duo Kid n Play to promote their lemon-lime drink. The duo's debut film, House Party, made a big splash when it was released in theaters on March 9, 1990. Sprite took notice and released a commercial starring the pair in 1991.
MC Hammer, Pepsi Commercial
Pepsi is Coca-Cola's direct competition and has been for over 100 years. When Pepsi wanted to make a statement that their soda was better than Coca-Cola, they enlisted the help of MC Hammer, who at the time, was one of the biggest acts in music, high off the success of his massive hit 1990 hit, "U Can't Touch This." The 1991 commercial showcases what happens to MC Hammer's voice once he drinks a Coke.
Kris Kross, Sprite Commercial
The young hip-hop duo Kriss Kross not only won over the hearts of young girls everywhere with the release of their debut album, Totally Krossed Out, in 1992, they also won over Sprite. Recognizing this young duo's impact on hip-hop, Sprite jumped (pun intended) on the opportunity for them to star in their campaign.
Tyrese, Coca-Cola Commercial
Yes, Tyrese is mostly known as a singer but he has had rapping stints—Black Ty, anyone? But long before he was releasing music of any sort, Tyrese was sitting on a bus singing. Tyrese was virtually unknown before starring his now famous Coca-Cola commercial. But once the ad was released in 1994, everyone wanted to know who he was. In 1998, Tyrese released his first single, "Nobody Else," and got a proper introduction to the music world.
KRS-One & MC Shan Sprite Commercial
Sprite was able to tap into the culture of hip-hop when they dropped the "Rhyme for Rhyme," commercial. Battle rap is the essence of hip-hop, one of the biggest feuds in hip-hop included KRS-One and MC Shan. Sprite revisited this legendary feud in 1995, and had both KRS-One and MC Shan in the ring for another round.
Nas & AZ, Sprite Commercial
By the late 90s, Sprite had become a figurehead within hip-hop. Each campaign they released spoke to community and showcased the culture in a positive light. They released their "Wild Style" campaign that took some of the top players in hip-hop—Missy Elliott, The Lost Boyz, Nas, and AZ—and recreated scenes from the 1983 classic film, Wild Style. In 1997, Nas and AZ recreated the scene from Double Trouble's "here's a little story that must be told..." stoop scene.
LL Cool J, Coca-Cola Commercial
LL Cool J ,in the late 90s, wore FUBU, had a hit television show, In the House, and was married with children. Coca-Cola moved away from the sex symbol image that LL Cool J was known for to showcase his softer side. "Daddy's Little Girl," was released in 1998, and the cute commercial shows LL Cool J and his daughter sitting on the porch while he tries to braid her hair.
Missy Elliott, Sprite Commercial
There are in total three commercials for Sprite's "Wild Style" campaign. In 1998, Missy Elliott was tapped to do the recreation of the Cold Crush/Fantastic 5 basketball scene in the Wild Style film. To make the scene more relatable to the times they were in, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are pitted against one another while Missy raps.
Afrika Bambaataa, Fat Joe, Goodie Mob, Common and Mack 10, Sprite Commercial
Sprite was culturally aware of the times, and after the passing of both Tupac and Biggie, hip-hop was trying to cut down on beef, and was focused more on coming together. Sprite tapped into this when they brought a team of hip-hop artists from different regions to fight crime using the character that everyone could identify with—Voltron. Playing on the "defender of the universe" tagline, the five-part series of commercials features artists coming different parts of the globe to defend hip-hop.
Eve, Angie Martinez, Mia X, Amil, Roxanne Shante, Sprite Commercial
One of the dopest commercials that features women in hip-hop was released by Sprite. The Five Deadly Venoms is a 1978 kung-fu film about a dying master enlisting his final student to check on the activities of his five former pupils, each of whom possesses unique forms of kung-fu. Sprite created a five-part commercial series that recreated this kung-fu film.
Busta Rhymes, Mountain Dew
The Mountain Dew "Do the Dew" tagline was largely made popular when Busta Rhymes stepped in and used hip-hop to make the catchphrase cool. Known for being over-the-top in his videos and clothing, Sprite played on that and created a futuristic and very green club scene that went with Busta's image and the Mountain Dew colors.
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