Last week we showed you The 20 Most Embarrassing Sellout Moments In Hip-Hop History. On the flipside of that coin, there have been some dope moments when rappers starred in commercials for products, many times the commercials themselves more memorable than the items they were pushing. Let’s take a look…..
20. Lil Jon + Subway – Definitely one of the strangest commercials on this list, this one is pure win, based on the fact that Jon looks up from his sandwich to play hype man for some Subway-eating white people.
19. Pete Rock + C.L. Smooth + Sprite – The first of many Sprite ads on this list finds Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth goofing around in the studio, while Sprite catch phrases are product placed into their freestyles. Given the group’s classic but short-lived legacy, we’ll take anything included in it. Kind of ironic C.L. disses commercial rap… in a commercial.
18. The Neptunes + Nike – The rich simplicity of fools getting dunked on to a sparse Neptunes track made this one of the most memorable Nike commercials ever.
17. Eminem + Itunes – Em broke the mold of the typical Itunes ad of the time, which featured really funky hipsters dancing to tunes from Black Eyed Peas and Jet. Instead, we find a slightly muted silhouette of Eminem rhyming his own personal Rocky anthem, “Lose Yourself”. This was huge at the time because it showed a major artist – perhaps the biggest artist of the moment – embracing music’s shift to the digital medium. Take that, Beatles.
16. Dr. Dre + Rhys Darby + HP - See, Dr. Dre is working on Detox, his manager Murray just walked in on a studio session.
15. MC Shan + KRS-One + Kid Capri + Sprite – This literally left heads with their mouths wide open the first time they saw it. Probably Sprite’s ballsiest of ads, recreating the legendary KRS vs. MC Shan battle to sell soda. We guess they were going for the blue-collar, grumpy, 40 year old b-boy demographic.
14. T-Pain + Bud Light – Now answer this: Is autotune really dead?
13. MC Hammer + Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company – There’s nothing greater than self-parody.
12. LeBron James + Lil Wayne + The Cornershop + Nike – Nike’s had a long legacy of hip-hop influenced ads, and this one featuring Lebron tossing up handfuls of chalk while Lil Wanye watches on might not have any super symbolic meaning, but is dope regardless. High art.
11. Fat Joe + Common + Mack 10 + Goodie Mob + Afrika Bambataa + Sprite + Voltron – Talk about sensory overload. Someone at Sprite had the brilliant idea to do a multi-part ad campaign with rappers from each coast, teaming up to fight evil hip-hop culture hating robots from the Voltron cartoon. After the dust from the east-west beef had settled, this was Sprite’s way of bringing all the regions together, under the watchful eye of Afrika Bambaataa. This is also wins for the “most backpack rap ad” award.
10. Charles Barkley + Michael Jordan + Humpty Hump + Nike - After Barkley’s controversial “nineties-n***a” and “not a role model” quotes, Barkley fashioned himself as the antithesis to Michael Jordan, as the two compared and contrasted their shoes, while Humpty Hump did his best Ed McMahon.
9. Master P + Snickers – In an alternate reality, Master P hangs out with a Snicker chewing dude named Josh, who helps him with important financial decisions.
8. Jay-Z + HP – Jay-Z can make anything look cool, even computers from Hewlett-Packard. Pharrell was also a part of this ad campaign, but Jay’s convincing, headless sell gives the viewer insight into just how many pockets he had his hand in at the time, even hinting at his eventual return to the game. Not only did this commercial sell the product, but had the streets talking as well.
7. Nas + AZ + Sprite - Of all the Sprite ads, this one had the most flavor, as it broke things down to simplicity, without the over-the-top, high production value of some of the other ads included on this list. Here, Nas and AZ play Wild Style, rhyming on the corner in probably the most realistic portrayal of their actual lifestyles ever caught in a music video.
6. 50 Cent + Jay-Z + Just Blaze + Reebok - Embarking on a tour together at the time, the two biggest egos…. personalities …. in rap engage in an informal battle in studio over who’s got the better shoe game, while Just Blaze crafts a beat that’s equal parts Run DMC and BDP. The best thing about this commercial is that while both 50 and Jay are incredible businessmen, at the end of the day they are still rappers, who can even make peddling shoes sound dope.
5. Snoop Dogg + Adidas + Daft Punk + Star Wars – What does it all mean? We’re not sure, but throw all of these things into a pot and you’ve got our attention.
4. Hammertime Live On Sunset Blvd. - This campaign was used to raise awareness of Hammer’s forthcoming reality television show, Hammertime. While you couldn’t pay us to watch it, this brilliant ad found unsuspecting, snooty Sunset shop-goers assaulted in legion by an army of dancers to the tune of “Can’t Touch This”. Hammer fan or not, you can’t front on this.
3. Mos Def + Nike Air Jordan XVI – It’s hard to top Spike Lee’s portrayal of Mars Blackmon in the Air Jordan commercials of the late 80′s and early 90′s, but Nike took a different approach with this millennial take on how to market the shoe. With Jordan retired, Mos Def’s “Umi Says” animates the hoop dreams of the aspiring athlete.
2. St. Ides Promo Spots – While Mista Chuck would disagree, in the 90′s St. Ides spearheaded the rappers-as-spokesmen-idea before anyone, with an unprecedented rawness in both style and production, that the Sprite ads could only hope for. Rappers like Wu-Tang Clan, 2Pac, Biggie Smalls, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, King Tee, Ice Cube, Rakim, Tha Alkaholiks (naturally) and others all lent their talents to these legendary commercials, unfortunately promoting the sale of 1 million bottle-bags (count ‘em). Regardless of how you felt about the controversial move, these spots produced a handful of legendary original tracks, many of which were collected on DJ Drank’s Greatest Malt Liquor Hits mixtape, which you can find online if you look hard enough.
1. Jay-Z + Rhapsody – “The Blueprint 3″ TV Spot – Aside from being among the best hip-hop commercials, this might just go down in history as one of the best commercials period.
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