Rivaling Jack’s tales of his harem in the “Most Unpopular Subject Matter on TTAC” Sweepstakes is my constant references to rap music. What I perceived to be a wink-and-a-nod to younger readers who enjoy hip-hop was succinctly summed up by one commenter who wrote “It wouldn’t be a Kreindler piece without a [deleted perjorative for white wannabe rappers] reference”. Although I resolved to tone down the “shout-outs”, an recent piece by Bloomberg demonstrates that there is a time and a place for a knowledge of hip-hop music.
Bloomberg, – a notorious peddlar of pro-Cadillac stories, even in the face of contradictory date – is committing yet another act of fellatio-in-print upon GM’s luxury brand, suggesting that a song by rapper Macklemore is indicative of Cadillac’s rising fortunes, along with a 22 percent bump in sales in 2013. There are, of course, a few issues at play here
1) Nobody who is a real fan of the genre regards Macklemore as anything but an interloping yuppie, adopting hip-hop modes of dress and language while preaching overly PC themes. This is neither the time nor the place for a discussion of hip-hop’s attitude towards gender relations, other sexual orientations or state and federal penal codes, but it’s safe to say that people from all walks of life, whether black, white, gay, straight male or female enjoy hip-hop music, including its darker sub-genres – and part of it is because the edgy, if not downright criminal themes, resonate within them the same way that any form of rebellious, anti-social music does. Macklemore is like the helicopter parent that wants Little League to abandon scorekeeping and make every game a tie, when everyone else is alright with the spirit of competition.
2) Cadillac has not been relevant in hip-hop, or with young people, for some time. Over time, rappers’ taste in cars has evolved, with imported luxury cars becoming the preferred vehicle of choice. Maybe the 2015 Escalade will make a resurgence, but it’s hard to see rappers backing away from the G-Wagen and Range Rover as the SUV of choice.
3) Even though a late model SRX is driven for 2 seconds in the video, the song is not singing the praises of the XTS, CTS or any modern Cadillac. The brand made its way into hip-hop culture via old body-on-frame sedans like the Fleetwood, which were both prestigious in hip-hops early days, and popular with the low rider crowd on the West Coast. Dr Dre may have been “King of the beats you ride to in your Fleetwood” but nobody is ever going to rap about the ATS. Speaking of which…
4) In a growing luxury market, Cadillac sold 182,543 units, including 38,319 ATS models. Subtract sales of the ATS from that total, and Cadillac’s 2013 performance is worse than any other year since 2009. So while adding a nameplate has been a help for Cadillac’s overall volume, the rest of the brand is down, and the ATS itself has been struggling, with residuals taking a beating due to incentive spending. Those $299/month lease deals are going to be very expensive for Cadillac once the term is up.
5) Bloomberg’s piece also sneaks in the inevitable mention of Cadillac as a global luxury brand. Can we please stop this? Mary Barra may be targeting 1 million units in a decade, but with diesel engines not arriving for another three years, Cadillac is, and will remain, an utter non-entity in Europe
The “White Walls” video isn’t so much an ad for new Cadillacs as it is an homage to the Broughams and B-Bodies of yesterday, the ones that cemented Cadillac’s reputation as a “pimp mobile”. They might still be writing songs about Fleetwoods, but in 20 years, nobody will ever be rapping about the XTS. Now, the Elmiraj on the other hand…