French champagne house protests rap boycott

16th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 16, 2006 (AFP) - French champagne makers Louis Roederer hit back against charges of racism Friday, after US rap star and nightclub owner Jay-Z called for a boycott of its exclusive Cristal brand because of remarks by managing director Frédéric Rouzaud.

PARIS, June 16, 2006 (AFP) - French champagne makers Louis Roederer hit back against charges of racism Friday, after US rap star and nightclub owner Jay-Z called for a boycott of its exclusive Cristal brand because of remarks by managing director Frédéric Rouzaud.

Rouzaud indicated to The Economist magazine that he was less than pleased by Cristal's association with the so-called 'bling' lifestyle of the rap world — leading Jay-Z to announce Thursday he will no longer serve Cristal in his 40/40 chain of clubs and will "lead a boycott in the world of hip-hop".

"I view his comments as racist and will no longer support any of his products," Jay-Z said.

But in a statement the 230-year-old champagne house said the accusations levelled against it were "unfounded."

"A house like Louis Roederer would not have existed since 1776 without being totally open and tolerant to all forms of culture and art, including the most recent musical and fashion styles which — like hiphop — keep us in touch with modernity," it said.

In his intervew with the Economist Rouzaud said he viewed Cristal's popularity among rap artists like Jay-Z, Puff Daddy and Snoop Dogg with "curiosity and serenity".

But asked if the association with rap could harm the brand, he went on: "That's a good question, but what can we do? We can't forbid people from buying it. I'm sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business."

Jay-Z said that Cristal — which sells at up to EUR 270 (US $340 dollars) a bottle and was originally created for the Russian Tsars — had enjoyed "loyal patronage" from the hip-hop community, and that he and other rappers had supported the brand by including it in their lyrics.

For example in his number one hit 'Hard Knock Life', Jay-Z says, "Let's sip the Cris and get pissy-pissy." According to the Economist, Cristal has been so visible at Puff Daddy's concerts that "onlookers have wondered whether the venerable champagne house was sponsoring the event."

But a statement from Jay-Z's agent said that "Jay-Z and the 40/40 Club will now be serving only Krug and Dom Perignon to their customers seeking high end champagne products."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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