Scion Hip Hop Promotion Backfires


Bucky Turco reports Scion's latest hip hop promotion, NEXT UP, an unsigned emcee search, has recently faced backlash from the very community it was trying to reach. The car company disqualified an emcee because of his politically charged lyrics about President Bush and the war. The track, entitled Black Gold, is an obvious reference to oil and the war.

The rap artist, Bavu Blakes, was willing to alter his lyrics a bit so he could advance to the next round of the competition and potentially win a $50,000 marketing deal, but Inform Ventures, the marketing company handling the promotion for Scion, said he was disqualified because his lyrics were too political.In fairness to Scion, Bavu entered the "underground" category rather than the "political" category but many still believe Bavu was censored.

The lyrics in question are:

1. "Now Bush and bin Laden got so much they rotten"
2. "Texas home of the real death row"
3. "What'd we really go to Iraq fo?"

As brands try to be hip through association with various pop-culture areas, the athenticity of those associations become very important. Soome feel Scion can't claim to be down with hip hop, use hip hop as part of a promotion and then censor it. The Houstonsoreal blog writes, "Scion as a company has garnered a lot of praise and has also taken a lot of heat over the past couple of years for their co-opting of hip-hop music and culture to sell their cars. Does this action prove the nay sayers right? Find out for yourself. We feel as though Scion and Inform Ventures need to be taken to task for their decision. If they are so down with the streets and hip-hop culture then why are they trying to censor one of it's strongest voices?"

Other commentary:

by Steve Hall    Aug-31-05   Click to Comment   
Topic: Brands, Opinion, Promotions   

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Bavu Blakes is from Texas, born and raised. His lyrics focus on Texas culture not anti-Bush or anti-Iraq war. We from Texas home of the real death row where more people have received the death penalty than any other state in the nation!

Posted by: lil bit on August 31, 2005 11:27 AM

Scion is a car company. Scion sells great little cars and lots of fun custom shit for their cars. Scion was created by Toyota, backed by Toyota. A very major corporation. They've got a contest going on to give away a car and a marketing deal. Somebody breaks the rules of the contest, bashes George Bush and is thrown out. Do you actually believe Scion customers are so stupid as to believe that Scion is actually a product of the hip hop culture and not a major company creating products for gen y and marketing to them? Bullshit. Of course, funny cause now Blake has got more and better PR than any stinking $50,000 marketing deal could've gotten him.

Posted by: owen plotkin on August 31, 2005 12:13 PM

In fairness to Scion, Bavu entered the "underground" category rather than the "political" category but many still believe Bavu was censored.

Just to be real clear here. The political category did not mean that you can go off on the president. It was just a different classification. Regardless of where he submitted that rhyme it would have been dq'd by management.

Posted by: bucky on August 31, 2005 1:43 PM

The only people I see driving them are the 30-40 somethings that can afford the marketing people are barking up the wrong tree in the first place.

Posted by: Nanette on August 31, 2005 1:49 PM

I love that one of the links you posted starts off explaining how the writer works regularly with Scion and promotes clubs they sponsor. Right. I guess Baby-Daddy needs to get the cake some how. I hope Scion drop kicks that fool back onto wellfare.

All kinds of kids love to spit hate at Scion for their hip-hop association out of one side of their mouth and all the while they attend the free sponsored shows with acts that would never have even made it to their town without Scions support. Toyota is one of the only companies out there that has steadily and unabashedly been supporting the hip-hop community. Scion is doing it right and have been from the beginning. A $50,000 prize for some lucky MC? That's just dope.

Bavu didn't get censored. He clearly didn't follow the rules and got disqualified for it. He and his 2 bit publicist are using this opportunity to get some hype. The hop-hop community should be checking them! I mean, would it have been fair to the other 2000ish MCs and producers who submitted tracks and didn't break the rules if they didn't kick Bavu to the curb? You should get a quote from the Boom Bap crew or Reach (whom I voted for) or Omega Red who followed the rules and DID made it into the finals. Let's see what they think of this whiney kid whose thowing a tantrum and kicking up dust around their chance to make some noise.

... i drive a Vespa.

Posted by: a35mmlife on August 31, 2005 9:52 PM

A lot of good responses here. I'd like to add my two cents as a fan of Bavu and a hip hop business writer.

Basically, I believe Bavu Blakes is exactly the kind of emcee that a company wanting to use relatively unknown artists for promotional purposes should seek out. He can be political, but he was willing to work with the company's concerns.

More importantly, Bavu has a great stage presence, he's clean cut in appearance but not a Will Smith goody goody, he comes across as a real nice guy who wants to give a good show plus he's very skilled and he does always give a good show.

I don't know what he's like outside of the performance setting but I was impressed by all my encounters with him when I lived in Austin. Including the way he handled himself when he took issue with some comments I made in my old hip hop blog.

I'm sure this is disappointing for him but I also believe he will prevail if he continues to hang in and do what he's doing.

Bavu's site:

Posted by: Clyde Smith on August 31, 2005 10:19 PM

lol @ "2 bit publicist"... hahaa!
mr. 35mm you either work for scion or don't know HOW it happened. if it's the latter and you care, my email address is

p.s. you obviously don't know me, but no hard feelings. hit me up if you wanna...

Posted by: bavu on September 5, 2005 6:55 PM

real hip hop is a lifestyle that is a great way

Posted by: hiphop on June 28, 2009 4:41 PM

real hip hop is a lifestyle that is a great

Posted by: hiphop on July 16, 2009 12:13 PM