Dan Charnas discusses his new book. Link

When did corporate America begin to take hip-hop seriously as a profitable venture?

Charlie Stettler was the first person to get corporate America to sponsor a hip-hop related event. [He organized a Rap & Breakdance] contest at the Radio City Music Hall. The mob basically, at the time, controlled the unions and didn’t want the event to happen. So they threatened Charlie and were like we don’t want those [racial epithet] at Radio City Music Hall. Charlie goes ahead and makes it happen anyway and brings security down from the Fever Night Club in the Bronx. They have this talent show at which Coca Cola is the corporate sponsor and this was the first time any corporation sponsored any hip hop related event. This was in 1983. And what happened at this event is that there was this group performing called the Disco 3, whom Charlie Stettler ends up managing and who later became the legendary Fat Boys. So that was the first corporate sponsorship of hip-hop.
Charlie Stettler went on to get Watch Watch to sponsor the Fresh Fest and from there we start to get people like Adidas, like Sprite and brands like those who begin to take interest in hip-hop Culture. In my book the brand that takes the award for really taking an active interest in understanding hip-hop culture would be Sprite. In the early 1990′s, Daryl Cobin helped them come up with the Obey Your Thirst campaign. That’s really a turning point in the relationship between corporate sponsors and hip-hop.

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