Biggie Put Cristal Champagne On A Pedestal, And Jay-Z Knocked It Back Down

By Rahman Dukes

“Cristal forever/ Play the crib when it’s mink weather,” the Notorious B.I.G. raps in Jay-Z’s “Brooklyn’s Finest.” You gotta love B.I.G. Seriously, the man’s lyrics are timeless, his energy was indisputable, and homey had class.

From the hats to the shades to the cane, Big had that “splash,” to steal a word from Jim Jones. Among the many notable items B.I. brought to the forefront, Cristal champagne still, to this day, rings bells in your local club and liquor store.

Cristal will go down in the record books as one of the most celebrated spirits in the rap community. Although B.I.G., Bad Boy and later Jay-Z became the unofficial poster boys for the pricey bubbly, it was Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface and Raekwon who should be credited with first mentioning the gold bottle. This is just one reason Rae and Ghost labeled B.I.G. a biter and launched an attack on him on a skit from their Cuban Linx album.


As was the case with DKNY, Versace and Coogi clothing, B.I.G. introduced an über-expensive lifestyle to rap fans who believed if they could afford a bottle of Cristal or those $200 shades, they had pockets as deep as your average rapper. Not quite the case. Some rappers don’t even possess the “rapper dollars.” More importantly, similar to clothing empires Gucci and Louis Vuitton distancing themselves from the rap audience, Cristal came out and made it known that the obsession with their brand in rap music was “unwanted attention.”

Soon after, Jay-Z would dismiss the Cris: “It has come to my attention that the managing director of Cristal views the ’hip-hop’ culture as unwelcome attention. I view his comments as racist and will no longer support any of his products through any of my various brands, including the 40/40 Club, nor in my personal life.”

And just like that, stocks in the Louis Roederer-made champagne dropped faster then shareholders who saw Bernie Madoff’s demise coming.

MTV News has some B.I.G. things on the horizon surrounding “Notorious” — stay tuned for more this week!

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