Last night at a club called Element, on Houston Street, a line formed in the rain. Everyone in line was on the list for a free Smirnoff-sponsored concert featuring Common, Q-Tip, and KRS-ONE. The fact that everyone was on the list made them that much more put off that the doors opened 45 minutes late. "I'm with Diageo," moaned one girl. "I don't do lines."
Inside, brand name hip hop DJs spun 90s classics, and signature Smirnoff cocktails were served. Once the show started, it became clear that Smirnoff had paid a great deal of money for the famous MCs to shout out Smirnoff as many times as possible. The mic was even adorned with a huge, shiny Smirnoff logo that made Q-Tip look like he was wearing a four-finger ring.
Common freestyled, and shouted out Smirnoff. Sway, the MTV host, gave a convoluted disquisition explaining how KRS convinced him that working for MTV was not selling out. Then KRS, one of the most respected MCs of all time, did a set, interspersed with more long explanations about how Smirnoff had an integral connection to hip hop culture, and how the night was a cultural, not corporate, event. KRS is a great rapper, but his politics are straight out of an empty Smirnoff bottle. He eventually ran into the crowd and freestyled, which was very cool.
At the end of the night, they handed out free bottles of water, rather than Smirnoff. Smirnoff is poison.