In this latter half of 2016, we’ve seen a recent surge of up-and-coming rappers taking advantage of their growing popularity by partnering with established corporations for commercials.
Chance the Rapper is probably the largest artist to do so with his collaboration with Kit-Kat. The 23-year-old Chicago native plays on his pen name and appears on Kit-Kat bars as “Chance the Wrapper” to help celebrate the Halloween season in the recent Hershey’s ad.
Will there be a Christmas themed “Chance the Wrapper” commercial leading up to his performance at the 2016 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the White House in December? We’ll have to wait and see.
Last week, Sprite unveiled its new commercial featuring the G.O.A.T. with Boat — NBA superstar LeBron James and 19-year-old Lil Yatchy (aka Lil Boat). I struggle with finding the right words to convey my emotions, so simply put, this made me smile. To be honest it kind of seems surreal. James has been a household name for a good part of the last 15 years, while Yatchy has been a relevant artist in the world of rap for about the past year.
The good natured, self-proclaimed “King of Teens” is found in an ice cave remixing one of his standout singles “Minnesota,” a song in which he sings “Cold like Minnesota” in the hook. In the commercial, the red-hair-dreaded-with-clear-beads rapper is playing the same simple piano keys as the original track, but switches up the lyrics to, “Cold like a Sprite soda.”
Brilliant. I want to share a Sprite with the person who’s the brains behind this, partially to express my jealousy of their job position.
The last artist as of late is Lil Dicky and Trojan condoms. Much like Chance the (W)Rapper and Kit-Kat, the name and the product fits like Cinderella and her glass shoe. The University of Richmond graduate turned XXL Freshman takes his staple awkward presence and applies it to this Trojan spot.
So why are these artists partnering with these major brands? I think that could be answered with another simple question: Why wouldn’t they? It reaffirms their growing success, and builds their relevance — and bank account — even more. It helps build their personal brand into something bigger than music. The list could go on. I don’t think it’s selling out, rather than simply taking opportunities given with companies who want to work with them.
A better question in my opinion is why are these major brands partnering with these artists who have little to no mainstream commercial success?
I’d argue it’s fair to say that a majority of individuals, no matter what age, are familiar with products like Sprite and Kit-Kat. But I’d also argue these three artists are most popular with individuals around my age, dare I say, millennials. That’s the only reason I can think of, is to appeal to people like me — and to be honest it works. No offense to my parents, but rather than getting excited about seeing Lil Yatchy in a Sprite commercial I think they might just be a little confused.
With all that being said, I’m going to end with a brief list of other up-and-coming rappers with the ideal product:
Kodak Black: Kodak Digital Cameras
This pairing is one of the more obvious. It doesn’t get much easier than sharing the same name as a company. However, the 19-year-old is currently in jail so it actually probably isn’t as simple as it seems at surface level.
Another obvious one. Madeintyo (pronounced made in Tokyo) was put on the map last year when his single “Uber Everywhere” blew up. This collab has occurred to some extent with certain Uber discount codes the rapper has tweeted in the past, but I’m talking commercials. I love Uber, but somebody over there has really been slacking on this one.
Lil Uzi Vert: Voss Water
In one of Uzi Vert’s more popular songs right now, DJ Esco’s “Too Much Sauce” featuring him and Future, he says this one liner multiple times: “Diamonds they look like Dasani, more like Voss.” This implies his diamonds are as clear as purified Dasani water. But wait, on second thought they’re as clear as the more expensive, artesian water from Norway. Amazing. This collab is more than halfway there already.
Big Baby D.R.A.M. : AT&T
D.R.A.M., the buzzing Virginia artist, hit the No. 1 spot on Billboard this summer with his infectious single “Broccoli” featuring the aforementioned Lil Yatchy. But there’s a better pairing for D.R.A.M. than Steamfresh frozen vegetables in my opinion: AT&T. This would take a more Lil Yatchy-like approach, using his most recent single (which is equally as enjoyable as “Broccoli”) “Cash Machine” in which he sings, “I love it when you talk to me, my cash machine, my cash machine,” in the hook. For this advertisement jingle, simply replace “my cash machine” with AT&T. “I love it when you talk to me, AT&T, AT&T.”
KYLE: Crest toothpaste
KYLE, also known as Super Duper Kyle, is one of the most positive, fun-having and easy-going artists out there — and he’s always smiling. His latest album was even titled “Smyle,” with the album artwork simply being an illustration of his own smile, snaggletooth and all. What better matchup than with a brand that encourages healthy teeth.
For anyone wondering, I definitely have more but I’ll save everyone the time and end it here. The bottom line is I’m enjoying seeing some artists I listen to in more of a national spotlight and I wouldn’t be mad seeing more of my favorite artists in commercials to come.