Rapper's Beer Ads Reportedly Succumb To Korean Americans' Boycott
Nov. 27, 1991
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Korean American merchants angered by what they call a racist song by rap music artist Ice Cube have forced a beer company to stop commercials starring the singer, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
A nationwide record-store chain, meanwhile, said it wouldn't reorder Ice Cube's new album.
Merchants in Philadelphia and across the country pulled St. Ides beer from their shelves earlier this month to protest a song called ''Black Korea,'' that warned that disgruntled blacks might ''burn your store right down to a crisp.''
Ice Cube stars in radio and television ads for St. Ides, a high-strength malt liquor popular in black neighborhoods.
Korean merchants own an increasing number of inner-city convenience stores and several have found themselves in conflicts with blacks. A New York City store was picketed after a black woman claimed she was pushed. Blacks have been shot by Korean-Americans in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
An estimated 3,000 stores joined the beer boycott. It ended Nov. 20 after the brewer, San Francisco-based McKenzie River Corp., agreed to stop broadcasting Ice Cube ads until the dispute is resolved, The Philadelphia Inquirer quoted McKenzie River's president, Minott Wessinger, as saying.
The brewer also agreed to donate up to $90,000 to Korean American groups, including about $20,000 to Philadelphia's Korean Beer and Deli Association, the newspaper said.
A receptionist at McKenzie River said Tuesday company officials were out of town and couldn't be reached.
The Korean merchant group told the Inquirer it will use much of the money to provide scholarships to needy black students or otherwise help the black community. The merchants said they hoped to defuse longtime tensions between the merchants and the predominantly black communities they work in.
There was no comment from Ice Cube on Tuesday; his New York publicist, Lesley Pitts, said she didn't yet have details on the situation.
''Black Korea'' is a single off the 22-year-old's latest album, ''Death Certificate.''
''So don't follow me up and down your market, Or your little chop-suey ass will be a target,'' the song goes.
It ends with: ''So pay respect to the black list, Or we'll burn your store right down to a crisp. And then we'll see ya, 'Cause you can't turn the ghetto into Black Korea.''
One music chain, Camelot Music, said its 307 stores nationwide won't reorder copies of the album because of its language.
''We really didn't know how rough it was until we received it,'' said Lew Garrett, vice president of purchasing for the North Canton, Ohio-based record retailer.
He said most Camelot stores have sold out of the album.
In Nashville, Tenn., several record stores are asking for proof of age and won't sell the album to people under 17.
The album's distributor, Hollywood-based Priority Records, was unaware of Camelot's decision, said publicity director Lillian Matulic.
''We at Priority abide by the enduring ideals that our society is founded on, and view it as our obligation to present our artists' work as it is created whether or not we personally agree,'' a company statement said.
The Rev. Henry Hong, a Korean-American who is pastor of a black church in New York, said Tuesday he has persuaded two popular South Korean singers to record a song he wrote to challenge ''Black Korea'' and promote friendship between blacks and Koreans.
Hong, who is touring his homeland, said in Seoul that his song, ''Because I Know,'' is being recorded by Yoon Bok-hee and Yoon Hyung-choo and will be released Monday.