J.P. Morgan, ballin’
Folding, folding, falling
Morgan Stanley yes, that’s family
Goldman Sachs, I’m holding sacks
Credit, bliss, credit, Swiss
Get it quick, headache, sh-t!
-- Das Racist, “Ring Tone”
They may be among the biggest public companies in the world, with operations spanning the globe and raking in billions of dollars in profits, but when it comes to their clout in the rap world, General Electric, Shell and HSBC don’t have much of an impact. Which doesn’t seem to make a dent in their bottom line, obviously, but it affects public perception of them. From the streets of Cairo to the suburbs of Copenhagen, rap is the shared language of young people (as well as a few olds), who can recite dense lyrics from memory and are often inspired by the words streaming through their headphones. So to be name-dropped by a popular rapper can increase a company’s visibility.
Socially I can't function
From the pen he would scribe,
on how to survive
Don't be Microsoft, be Macintosh
-- The Coup, “Me and Jesus …”
For more than three decades, certain brands including sneaker manufacturers such as Adidas and Nike and liquor companies like Cristal and Hennessy have credited their ubiquity in rap lyrics with a bump in sales. A few years ago, Magnum condoms said that rappers name-checking them in lyrics bumped their sales by 14 percent. Cadillac attributed its turnaround in 2006 partly to the popularity of the Escalade in the hip-hop world and Mercedes-Benz claimed that its prevalence in lyrics increased sales.
I got that cold flu, that itchy sneezy
You in that Mitsubishi, I'm in that Bentley GT
-- Gucci Mane feat. Nikki Minaj, “Coca Coca”
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It’s not clear if the reverse is true -- amid the financial crisis in 2008, some rappers denounced Wall Street, aiming their lyrical fire at Goldman Sachs and AIG, among other firms that were blamed for profiting off of the market for subprime mortgages. And after the BP oil spill, the oil giant was condemned in certain rap lyrics. But the references were only occasional and didn’t appear to have a widespread impact on those companies’ revenues.
Used to blow through money when the Dow looked sunny
Now when I fall, accountants act funny
Who buys shares in AIG?
Thanks for the advice in the NBC
Got me tracking S and P now
I’m mad at my money, mad at my money.
-- Slim Thug, “Still a Boss”
To assess the rap clout of the 100 biggest public companies in the world, we tallied how many times their names were mentioned in lyrics using the RapGenius.com database of tracks. As a result, many of the most-cited brands, such as Puma, Fila, Dom Perignon, Moët, Louis Vuitton, Armani, Smith & Wesson and Glock, are not included because those companies are not large enough to make it on the list. Plus, we searched only corporate names, not individual brands, so companies such as General Motors and Coca-Cola had lower-than-expected results because their brand names are much more popular in lyrics than their corporate names. And we only searched for lyrics in English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese, so some of the giant Chinese and Japanese companies are not represented in our tally. Check it out: