Rappers have always name-checked alcohol in their music, but nowadays many artists are going beyond references to actually selling their own brands. From the way the Los Angeles Times describes it, Pitbull’s latest hits sound more like advertisements for Voli vodka. He’s part owner of the liquor brand, meaning he’s more than happy to rap about the low-calorie, flavored vodka as the new “it” drink. Ludacris and Snoop Dogg both push cognac, with both artists releasing mixtapes and music videos promoting the drinks.
Sean “Diddy” Combs, an equal-share owner of Ciroc vodka, goes even further, tweeting about the liquor hundreds of times and recently getting caught on video fighting with a club-goer who dared to drink Grey Goose instead. Rap music and alcohol are a natural fit, and the aggressive campaigning works: Ciroc sold just 98,000 cases in 2007, but 795,000 in 2010 after Diddy got involved—and it should hit 1 million by the end of this year. As for Pitbull’s vodka, the company’s chief executive says it has seen “multiple hundred percent growths over the year before he arrived.”