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Hip Hop Hooch: Musician Boozes, Rated

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A ménage of Minajs with moscatos. (Photo courtesy Myx)

It’s a strange time to be a pop star. Technology has broken down many of the old barriers to entry and you can reach millions without a major label or even a contract. On the other hand, your fans are probably—er, definitely—all young enough to torrent your entire catalogue without paying a dime.

So what do you do with a million Twitter followers who love your album, but not the idea of paying for it? Channel this love into something they will pay for. Hip Hop—which became Pop Music a while ago—has discovered this is a particularly lucrative approach, because what is pop music without a party to play it at? And what’s a party without booze? If you create both song and drink, well, you’ve got the golden goose and it’s time to hit the shmoney dance.


But how do the brands actually match up? Read on to find out and vote in the comments.

(Photo courtesy Myx)

Nicki Minaj, Myx Moscato

What it is:
According to its website, “MYX Fusions Moscato has revolutionized the wine industry by leveraging the explosive popularity of Moscato and improving on the experience of drinking it.” It comes in four flavors, including mango, coconut and peach.

Taste: 2/5
Blech, good god, these are sweet—though, that seems to be the point. The plain flavor is the least cloying. You can get a four-pack of the 6.3-ounce bottles for $9, or the new, larger 375 mL format for just $4 each.

Presentation: 2/5
The bottle, like the product itself, kind of blends into the background to let Nicki take the spotlight. All four flavors come in translucent navy blue bottles and, oddly, include nutritional facts on the back.

Celebrity: 4/5
I’ve been fascinated by Nicki ever since her schizophrenic, swerving-across-four-lanes-of-traffic accented verse on “Monster.” It seems like every time Minaj does anything, every culture outlet is obligated to publish a think piece about what she means to feminism, race, America and the previous round of think pieces. Nicki, meanwhile, keeps putting out tracks, dressing weird and cashing checks. Oh, and putting out amazing music videos with insane levels of shameless product placement, but literally so much else going on that no one even gives a damn.

Final Score: 3/5

(Photo courtesy Time)

Justin Timberlake, Sauza 901 Tequila

What it is:
The brand calls itself a “super smooth, triple-distilled premium tequila experience” named for the exact minute “when the evening ends and the night begins.” Sure, why not.

Presentation: 4/5
It’s a pleasant, unique bottle. The backside is curved while the front half is angled into thirds, refracting the brand’s logo like a hall of mirrors. The red-white-black color scheme and bold lines are a good look.

Taste: 4/5
This is solid. It’s remarkably smooth for a blanco, and on the higher end of reasonably priced ($30).

Celebrity: 2/5
I can’t help it. No matter how many photoshoots like this JT puts out, I’ll never be able to unsee him as this.  Or this. Or this.

Despite that, Justin has made enough successful Saturday Night Live appearances to show he has a solid, self-aware sense of humor and “Dead & Gone” is a pretty good song.

Final Score: 3.5/5

(Photo courtesy Amazon)

Jay Z, D’USSÉ Cognac

What it is:
“D’USSÉ [dew-say] is a bold new expression of Cognac that dares the palate like never before”—at least that’s how the brand describes itself. D’USSÉ offers a VSOP ($50) and recently rolled out an XO ($230).

Presentation: 5/5
You really can’t do better than this. It’s a beautiful, elegant bottle with metallic, embossed logo: the Cross of Lorraine, which according to the brand’s site, is “France’s fabled emblem of courage, honor and perseverance.” It feels handcrafted to exist in an expensive, minimalist apartment overlooking the city through floor-to-ceiling windows, perhaps perched on a tasteful concrete slab shelf or mahogany end table. Oh, wait.

Taste: 4/5
It’s good. It’s really damn good.

Celebrity: 5/5
Despite appearing in that sexy teaser ad and drinking this cognac out of his Grammy, Jay Z is not actually affiliated with the brand but—according to D’USSÉ—he’s a big fan.

On the surface, it’s a strange use of celebrity by a public figure who declared “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” But I don’t think Mr. Carter—who dusted “Ether” off his shoulder, put out more platinum albums than he has fingers, and married Beyoncé—cares what anyone thinks. Fair enough.

Final Score: 5/5

(Photo courtesy Voli)

Pitbull, Voli Vodka

What it is:
Voli’s website hits on two very important points: “Hand crafted by master blenders in Cognac, France…Voli may contain on average one-third fewer calories than leading vodka specialties.” The vodka comes in six flavors, including the calorie-counting original and raspberry cocoa, which includes notes of “cookie.”

Presentation: 4/5
Nothing really jumps out, but it’s a nice bottle. It’s an understated fogged glass embossed with the logo. The “original” flavor, which seems to have been rebranded as “light,” offers drinkers a QR code to get “cocktail recipes under 100 calories.” Is that a thing people want? Also, are QR codes still a thing?

Taste: 3/5
Solid, smooth taste for around $20. The original has an interesting, semi-floral undercurrent. I didn’t love it, but somehow the entire bottle disappeared in one night. I think that’s more the point, anyway.

Celebrity: 1/5
I kind of hate every song Pitbull—aka Mr. International—has ever done, but apparently a lot of people disagree. I don’t get it.

Update: As due diligence, I listened to a Pitbull mix for two hours and…I was completely wrong. I’m not sure if it’s Stockholm syndrome, but I want to take six shots of Voli and blow out the speakers listening to this on repeat. Also, Mr. International is a cool nickname. Updated to 3/5.

Final Score: 4/5

Matt Merkin is a writer and photographer currently based in Oakland, CA.

Brands: 901 D'USSE Myx Sauza
Series & Type: Entertainment

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