Music

A Brief History Of Rappers In Soda Commercials

A match made in branding heaven. You probably got into Heavy D thanks to Sprite. Admit it.

1. Kurtis Blow for Sprite (1986)

Kurtis Blow embodies the greatest anchorman of all time, there’s a 7-UP diss in there and, oh yeah, remember the “Now More Than Ever” motto? Move over, “Obey Your Thirst!”

Most people don’t actually remember this ad, but it laid the groundwork for Sprite’s ongoing relationship with hip hop. Truly the first soda company to greet rappers with open arms!

2. Run DMC and Max Headroom for Coke (1988)

Not to be surpassed by Sprite, Coke jumped on the hip hop bandwagon and landed a spot with Run DMC and Max Headroom, which featured a PG-rated party scene, some sort of sweepstakes, and the short lived slogan, “A new way to party.”

3. Young MC for Pepsi (1990)

Young MC warns us that we better race to purchase Pepsi, “The Choice of a New Generation,” before it runs out. Because Pepsi could run out? Oh, yeah, and he has like fifteen billion wardrobe changes. C’est la vie.

4. Heavy D for Sprite (1990)

This ad was the first instance of the “I Like The Sprite In You,” slogan (what does that even mean?). Heavy D name drops himself twice, concluding with, “Remember I’m Heavy D, and the boys in my crew / we like the sprite in you!” The best part about the ad is that Heavy D literally dresses like the soda—lemon colored suit, green-collar shirt, and all. Now that’s what I call 1990!

5. Kid-N-Play for Sprite (1991)

I think we should make it a law that celebrity endorsements should require said celebrity to dress up like the product. You know, really embody the thing. Here, Kid-N-Play pull a Heavy D: Kid dressed as a lime, and Play as a lemon.

6. MC Hammer for Pepsi (1991)

This is the first instance on our list where the artist doesn’t rap an original composition. Instead, Hammer accidentally sips on some Coke (instead of his familiar Pepsi) and breaks out into Morris Albert’s “Feelings,” which apparently is the worst thing that could ever happen?

7. Kriss Kross for Sprite (1993)

The young Kriss Kross boys (RIP Chris Kelly) rap about Sprite, and unfortunately wear sensible oversize green hoodies. Bring back the soda suit!

8. Pete Rock And C.L. Smooth, Grand Pub for Sprite (1994)

In the first ad of the “Obey Your Thirst” campaign, Pete Rock, C.L. Smooth and Grand Pub are shown freestyling about Sprite after a session in the studio, like this is what they actually talk about after recording for hours on end. (But, seriously, I’m kind of thirsty now?)

9. A Tribe Called Quest for Sprite (1994)

A Tribe Called Quest compared thirst to desire; they had a thirst to rap, dance, and dress, which is as poetic as it sounds. I’m down!

10. KRS-One vs. MC Shan for Sprite (1995)

And FINALLY we have the rap battle commercial. Sprite wins?

11. Nas and AZ for Sprite (1997)

The cutest in the series, Nas and AZ rap like they’re telling a story to some kids playing in the street, and end with a handshake. Awwwww!

12. The Lost Boyz for Sprite (1997)

I feel like you could substitute beer for soda in almost all of these commercials. Case in point: “We got the Sprite. Now where are the ladiesssss?”

13. Afrika Bambataa, Fat Joe, Goodie Mob, Common and Mack 10 for Sprite (1998)

This was a series and it’s totally effin’ weird! Voltron makes an appearance for some reason? Everything is animated, except for the rappers, who attempt to save the world via the power of Sprite. By quenching their thirst? I’mma just leave this here.

14. LL Cool J for Coke (1998)

LL Cool J struggles to braid his daughter’s hair, so she hands him a Coke. This allows him to see that it’s just fine how it is, half-finished. “It’s cool. Just the way your mommy does it,” he reassures her. Not quite, but it’ll do!

15. Kool Keith vs. Mia X, Amil, Lady of Rage, Roxanne Shante, and Bahamadia for Sprite (1999)

Kool Keith plays sort of a villian here, claiming that female MCs will never “work,” and of course they end up kicking major butt!

It’s important to note that two years prior to this ad, Kool Keith wrote the song “Plastic World,” in which he raps, “As I do see soda, wack, rugged beer commercials / Some Rappers are brought up puppeteered like the Ninja Turtles.” So I guess everyone has their “sell out” price?

16. Busta Rhymes for Mountain Dew (1999)

Busta Rhymes raps in front of a crowd, chants the slogan, “Do the Dew.” The world stands still as he drinks it, because that’s the magical power of Mountain Dew, duh.

17. Ludacris for Pepsi (2002)

Bill O’Reilly attempted to launch a crusade against Ludacris and his affiliation with Pepsi. The commercial was eventually pulled but everything on the internet lasts forever. “You mad?!”

18. Kanye West for Pepsi (2005)

Kanye West, given the power of Pepsi, is able to walk around the world quickly and with total ease. Because bro clearly needed another ego boost.

19. Dr. Dre - Dr. Pepper (2009)

Get it? Dr. Dre? Dr. Pepper? It’s almost like a pun. He even ends the commercial with “Trust me, I’m a doctor.”

20. Drake for Sprite (2010)

DRAKE IS A ROBOT, I KNEW IT!!! Does the image of Sprite dousing recording equipment make anyone else really uncomfortable? That’s some expensive stuff you’re destroying, buddy.

21. Snoop Dogg - Pepsi Max (2010)

The war of the diet sodas ends when Snoop appears and says eight words: “I’m up to my knees in zero calories.”

22. Jay Electronica - Mountain Dew Code Red (2010)

I’m going to guess that this wasn’t very successful because does Mountain Dew Code Red even exist anymore? Regardless, this video has Jay Electronica rapping his track, “The Announcement,” before concluding: “Hip Hop is different on my mountain.” Possibly the coolest (and longest) ad on this list.

23. Lil Wayne - Mountain Dew (2012)

One of the most controversial rapper/soda company relationships of all time, Mountain Dew dropped its endorsedment deal with Lil Wayne after learning of his controversial lyric in the remix of Future’s “Karate Chop.” They were: “beat the p**** up like Emmett Till,” referring to the 1955 Mississippi attack and murder of a black teenager of the same name. Till was attacked after allegedly flirting with a white woman. Not a good look, Weezy.

24. Nicki Minaj for Pepsi (2012)

While Minaj doesn’t actually rap in this commercial, we all know where her roots are, yeah? Plus this ad is just beautiful and this list needed a strong woman on it. Go Nicki!

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