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Posted May 9, 2013 by samuek in Events

My Cipher with Maurice Hennessy

There I was, attending a Hennessy tasting with the 8th generation founder, Maurice Hennessy from France, inside of the luxurious Suits Bar in Trump Towers Toronto and 15 minutes of the hour we had was spent on Hennessy and Hip Hop culture.

This was exciting for me because I grew up in this world in Toronto and have experienced firsthand the negative and positive aspects to the culture. In Hip-Hop, music defines who we are, so what is said and the images that are shared become a part of us for better or for worse.

Now I could go on about the beautiful Hennessy cocktails (Cigar Leaf soaked Hennessy – wow), the decorated history of the cognac from its roots in royalty to the unique stories behind how each blend was created.  I could share how the cognac is made and the labor of love the drink is. But really, you can find all this information online yourself, so instead you will use your time that you should be spending on that email backlog, on Hennessy and Hip Hop.

We all remember the 40 ounce, Gin and Juice and up there in rap references, Hennessey. Hennessy, though I am sure initially to their chagrin, was actually one of the first spirits to be mentioned with frequency in rap. Artists like Mobb Deep used it in the classic, “Drink Away The Pain” and “Hectic,” Tupac named a song after it and Drake more recently in “Hell Yeah,” says “I learned Hennessy and enemies is one hell of a mixture.”

I would argue, any drink and enemies is not a great idea.

Even more famously, is the scene below when a Hennessy fueled Kayne, crashed Taylor Swift’s VMA winner’s speech.

Kayne Crashes Taylor Swift’s VMA Speech

Despite this, Hennessy embraces Hip Hop culture and feels honoured that rappers talk about Hennessy in their songs. Maurice Hennessy shares that they have been connected to the youth for years with bands from the 40’s and 50’s posing with Hennessy and even in the 20’s ran ad campaigns geared towards a younger audience. So it makes perfect sense for them to respond positively to the dominating hip hop culture.

Even though, embracing this urban culture seems counter intuitive for a drink, who for some is known to spark images of an old white man in a smoking jacket, caressing a cigar, in a dark hunters den with a Labrador at his feet.  A bad move even to support a music who populates the news only when it fails. Though, to be frank the masses do love their bad news over a good cup of java.

Yet, check this.

When Hennessy Black launched, they partnered with Snoop Dog, who by the way, I will never call Snoop Lion. Also, Hennessy has just launched a campaign with NAS, called “Wild Rabbit,” including custom concerts, twitchats and media tours. They are engaged and serious.

Maurice Hennessy clarifies that despite the negative image that the media portrays and at times the rappers themselves portray, he has met many a rapper and has a different perspective. He shares that similar to when he hosted NAS at the Hennessy plant in Cognac France, rappers have shown a genuine interest in the product akin to a wine aficionado visiting Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux for the first time.

He goes on to discuss a meeting he just had with Kardinal Offishall who he describes as charming and genuinely interested in his product. This is not a surprise as many rappers are business men and passion is never in absence with success.

So yes, there are clowns in rap, in every music actually, who drive negative stereotypes. To me however, I see the classic hip hop story of rags to riches and the musicians who strive to have the best. Is this a good thing?  You decide.




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