Nuthin' but a "G" Thang: The Culture and Commerce of Gangsta Rap

By Eithne Quinn | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
A Gangsta Parable

IN 1986, the San Francisco–based brewer McKenzie River Corporation launched a new brand of malt liquor, a kind of high-alcohol beer, called St. Ides. Two years later, struggling to find a market niche, the brewer dramatically reoriented St. Ides’s brand image by dropping the soul group Four Tops as endorsers and turning instead to rap artists. Rather than employ the services of more established rappers, McKenzie River approached the underground, burgeoning rap scene in Los Angeles to market its product. The brewer signed up producer DJ Pooh (Mark Jordan), who was entrusted with production of the commercials. McKenzie River almost totally relinquished creative control, giving Pooh great latitude in production decisions. The underground producer laid down the tracks and recruited rap performers who would write their own odes to St. Ides in commercials that were aired on radio and television. The marketing coup that McKenzie River pulled off was quite extraordinary. It had tapped into the beginnings of West Coast gangsta rap before the genre term gangsta had even been coined. DJ Pooh was making a living producing records and deejaying as part of LA’s Lench Mob, affiliated with the Uncle Jam’s Army crew. The campaign’s debut rapper was King Tee,

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