Hidden ad agency messages in early hip-hop songs

June 30, 2010

Yep, I think I stumbled upon something big on this one. Being a hip hop fan and growing up in the days of LL Cool J, A Tribe Called Quest, and Big Daddy Kane (just to name a few), I started to re-think the meanings of those songs.

It Takes Two

Who knew that Rob Base and DJ Easy Rock where high level account managers. Yes, it does take two. Both the client and the agency need to be on the same page, collaborating, strategizing, sharing objectives, and participating in open and honest communication. And to prove this even more, what was the follow up? Joy and Pain. Like sunshine and rain. Yes DJ Easy Rock knew that one day his VP of Marketing would leave, and with it his biggest account.


Naughty by Nature’s little dirty secret. O is for other; P is for peoples’, the last P well that’s not that simple. No, it isn’t. And it was for proposals and Treach was playing the part of the client who knee jerks an RFP response “to see what’s out there.” And just like the video where the men of Naughty by Nature’s were stickering everyone and every body, these clients do the same. Please Mr. Client be serious about it. It takes a lot of time, money, and resources to put these things together simply to test the waters.

Parents Just Don’t Understand

OK, I am a Pennsylvania native, just like Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff, so I grew up listening to these guys… a lot. Little did I know the Fresh Prince was giving me guidance about knowing your audience. I even think “parents” meant “board members.” Yes, we have all been there when we present an interactive campaign to the board and we hear grumblings that “the internet is a fad” or that “you’ll all go blind if you keep twittering or tweeting or tweetering or whatever.” If you drive an 84 Cadillac with a suede roof and hid under your desk in grade school fearing an impending invasion of the U.S., then yes maybe there is a reason you don’t understand the campaign.

If It Don’t Make Dollars It Don’t Make Cents

DJ Quik was obviously a sales guy and not a PR person. He kept forgetting that damn C in his name. (No way that got through AP Style.) If LinkedIn was around at that time I imagine he would be one of those 500+ people. And really do you know 500+ people? Either way Quik was turning and burning major account sales like no other. And by the cover of his album he might have been burning something else, which leads into “don’t get high on your own supply”, but that’s another blog on another channel.

The Message

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five had all the creative directors in mind with this hit.

“It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder

How I keep from going under “

They knew to break through all the clutter one had to get the right message, in front of the right people at the right time. I can see Flash turning to his AE and asking, “if I gave you this could you do something with it? This isn’t magic! Where’s my strategic brief?!”

I could go on and on, but I want to hear from you. What did I miss?

Oh and word to tha mutha…


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