That was back in June. Now, in his James Bond-esque new video, "Show Me What You Got," Jay-Z flaunts the break-up, turning down an offer of Cristal in favor of a gilded bottle of Armand de Brignac "Ace of Spades" bubbly.
Why should we care? Because Jay-Z's earlier endorsement of Cristal (in his 1998 hit "Hard Knock Life," he intoned, "Let's sip the Cris' and get pissy-pissy," which in certain circles qualifies as a four-star review) had given the brand a huge popularity boost in the U.S. But Jay-Z abruptly lost his taste for the stuff when Frederic Rouzaud, chief executive of Cristal's parent company, Roederer, was quoted in the The Economist's "Intelligent Life" supplement making what Jay-Z considered racist and demeaning remarks, to wit:
Asked if an association between Cristal and the bling lifestyle could actually hurt the brand, [Rouzaud] replies: “That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”
Oooof. Jay-Z parried by calling for the hip-hop community to boycott Cristal. He also banned the brand from his 40/40 clubs.
Fast-forward to last week and Jay-Z's PDA for Armand de Brignac, a brand previously not sold in the U.S. Here's what caught my eye: the "Ace of Spades" sub-brand. Not very long ago, "spade" was about as insulting an epithet as you could hurl at a person of African descent--nearly the equal of what's now coyly referred to as "the n-word." (Word Origins dates the first recorded use of "spade" to 1928; it was still common parlance during my Vietnam War-era high school days at a mostly black high school.)
And where did "spade" come from? "Black as the ace of spades."
I suspect that 36-year-old Jay-Z, who is also CEO of Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella Records, is fully aware that the "ace of spaces" association is far more racist than M. Rouzaud's imperious snub. Maybe he finds the phrase satirical (so bad it's good). Maybe he's moved on from the whole racist-demeaning thing. Maybe he just likes the Armand de Brignac bottle's golden bling. Or maybe he's cut himself a cozy deal with his new favored quaff, as this hip-hop blog alleges.
Hat tip to Strategic Name Development.