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Celebrating 50 years of hip-hop with Hennessy: 10 tracks that reference the iconic drink 

Celebrating 50 years of hip-hop with Hennessy: 10 tracks that reference the iconic drink 

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2023 marks the 50th anniversary of hiphop, arguably the most vibrant, and far-reaching music cultural movement of our time. Hennessy has been there throughout the genre’s history, and is here in the present, and plans to continue supporting the culture into the future.


On August 11th, 1973, in New York, a group of teenagers threw a back-to-school party in rec room of an apartment building in the Bronx, presided over by the eighteen-year-old deejay Kool Herc.

50 years later, to the day this week, hip-hop officially celebrates its 50th birthday.

Since that Kool Herc party, the seeds of hip-hop were considered to be sown, and from the triumvirate of rap, graffiti and breakdancing, the music element has evolved and expanded beyond its humble beginnings to become a dominant culture and force of the music world.

As it did so, its practitioners built its foundational textbook of cadence, rhythm, flow patterns and wordplay, as references became codified text, to be repeated throughout the lineage of hip-hop history.

One such prominent reference is Hennessy, the cognac drink founded in France in 1765 by Corkonian Richard Hennessy, which has been name-checked in well over a 2,500 songs including such luminaries as 2Pac, Biggie, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Eminem, The Weekend and Kendrick Lamar.

Hennessy was originally adopted by the hip-hop community as a badge of social status, success and style from its early days, after its widespread acceptance in American street culture, which helps explain hip-hop’s early endorsement of the cognac once it began to develop into a phenomenon.

Hennessy or the slang “Henny” is now staple of the hip-hop lexicon. It is shorthand for an artist with good taste, sophistication and luxury, a phonetic wellspring that has continue to have a surprising versatility in the genre.

To mark the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, Hennessy has launched a limited Edition Hennessy V.S Bottle created with hip-hop superstar Nas, who as you’ll see below is a big fan of referencing Henny.

The orange-accented limited edition bottle design features Nas’ handwritten diary notes inspired by shared stories and late-night lyric-writing fuse with nods to graffiti, the New York City flag, and the rapper’s King Disease II album art.

On the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, this limited edition bottle celebrates the close link between Hennessy and hip-hop, with one of the genre’s classic artists.

The following are 10 of our favourite examples of this recurrent Hennessy motif in hip-hop music, along with a playlist of 50 Henny-referencing songs below…

1.

Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion – ‘WAP’

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s sex anthem is one of the more high profile songs in recent years to mention the Henny drink. Adding an extra layer of novelty, is the fact that Cardi’s own sister’s is called… Hennessy.

Look, I need a hard hitter, I need a deep stroke
I need a Henny drink, I need a weed smoker
Not a garden snake, I need a king cobra
With a hook in it, hope it lean over

2.

Drake – In My Feelings

Canada’s biggest rap export is one of the cognac’s biggest fans, with more than a handful of references to the brandy throughout his career.

As well as the viral hit ‘In My Feelings’, Drake has referenced Henny in tracks like ‘Only You Freestyle’ with Headie One, One Dance’, ‘Demons’, ‘HYFR’, ‘Portland’, ‘Right Hand’ and ‘No Tellin’.

Drake was Spotify’s most-streamed artist of the decade in the 2010s.

TrapMoneyBenny
I buy you Champagne but you love some Henny
From the block, like you Jenny
I know you special, girl, ’cause I know too many

3.

MF DOOM – ‘Kon Karne’

MF DOOM is one of the most respected wordsmiths in rap with an unparalleled ability to create dense complex verses, that mixed humour, superhero storytelling, metaphor and convention-breaking lines that created unexpected outcomes, and some of the best rap verses in history.

In 2004, DOOM released Mm..Food, a brilliant album thematically centred around culinary references, cooking terms, and food metaphors.

‘Kon Karne’ from that album features a Henny reference, in a song that pays tribute to his late brother, DJ Subroc.

As I reminisce never forgot when I was very broke
Shot the Henny straight couldn’t afford to cop the cherry coke
Or should I say broke with wealth?
To know enough to give them just enough rope to yoke they self
Plan B before I take the ring and pawn it
The long arm of the law couldn’t even put they fingers on it
Dog gone it

4.

The Notorious B.I.G – ‘Ready To Die’

Biggie Smalls’ solo debut track ‘Party & Bulls**t’ contains a Hennessy reference, and the brand would be repeated a year later on the title track from his seminal 1994 debut solo album Ready To Die.

The titular reference, Biggie later said, meant to put his old life behind him and that the subsequent album Life After Death was a reference to his new life of success after a period of struggle on the come up. The Notorious B.I.G was killed in 1997, and is now considered one of the finest MCs to ever do it.

Mic ripper, girl stripper, the Henny sipper
I drop lyrics off and on like a light switch

5.

Chance The Rapper – ‘Cocoa Butter Kisses’

On his breakout mixtape, 2013’s Acid Rap, Chicago MC Chance The Rapper displayed his playful phonetic word association style filled with alliteration and references to fellow Chicago MCs, seventies cop television series and celebratory behaviour.

‘Cocoa Butter Kisses’ featuring verses from Vic Mensa and Twista, was far and away the most popular song from the mixtape, and Chance would go on to work with Kanye, and release influentional mixtapes like 2015’s Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment album Surf and 2016’s Colouring Book.

Wiley up off peyote, wilin’ like that coyote
If I sip any Henny, my belly just might be outie
Pull up inside a huggy, Starsky & Hutch a dougie
I just opened up the pack, in an hour I’ll ash my lucky

6.

A$AP Rocky – ‘1Train’

An all-star cut from A$AP Rocky’s breakthrough 2013’s album Long Live A$AP, featuring Kendrick, Joey Bada$$, YelaWolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson & Big K.R.I.T.

It’s Bronson who makes the linked clever reference. Kenny Lofton was an outfielder baseball star who broke the record of stolen bases in a year, previously held by Rickey Henderson aka Henny, making this line a chef’s kiss, bon-mot double entendre. Outstanding indeed.

Red roses dropped from boxes very often
Confetti torchin’, drinkin’ Henny like I’m Kenny Lofton
Outstandin’, I fixed the game between Georgia Southern and Gramblin’
You see us scramblin’, sellin’ Susan Sarandon
The cloud of smoke like the phantom

7.

Nas – ‘Memory Lane (Sittin’ In Da Park)’

The New York rap originator Nas has been a Hennessy connoisseur since his classic debut album Illmatic, as you can hear on the DJ Premier-produced ‘Memory Lane (Sittin’ In Da Park)’.

The song is a nostalgic look at Nas’ early life built around a soulful beat sample from Reuben Wilson’s ‘We’re In Love’ mixed with samples from Juice Crew members Craig G and Biz Markie.

Illmatic’s opening track ‘The Genesis’ also features a Henny reference, and Nas would come back to the reference throughout his career.

See Also

The connection didn’t go unnoticed, and to mark 50 years of hip-hop, Hennessy and Nas have collaborated on a limited edition bottle of Hennessy V.S cognac.

I rap for listeners, blunt heads, fly ladies and prisoners
Hennessy-holders and old-school n***s, then I be dissin’

8.

Dave – ‘Professor X’

UK rapper Dave, aka Santan Dave quickly came known for his incisive wordplay with tracks like ‘Thiago Silva’ and the Mercury Music Prize-winning album Psychodrama in 2019.

The same year, ‘Professor X’, featured on original soundtrack album for the British television series Top Boy, which Dave also acted in. The track also references Jennifer Lopez’s 2002 pop smash ‘Jenny from the Block’ in the same line as Hennessy, like Drake above, proving rap is a circular culture.

Man, it’s lookin’ like plain clothes
We ain’t never had halos
Just Henny and Jenny from the block, no J-Lo
This year here is gonna be a mad one
I need a good girl, I need a bad one

9.

Kendrick Lamar – ‘​untitled 05 | 09.21.2014.’

As a measure of how next level Kendrick Lamar was becoming at the time, in 2016 the Compton rapper released a surprise collection of demos called Untitled unmastered that was better than most artists’ regular albums.

Featuring some of the previous album To Pimp A Butterfly’s live instrumentation, the album felt like a looser jazz exercise, allowing Kendrick to explore wordplay in his tracks without any grand narrative.

Lit off Henny, I’m tryna dismantle
These wicked ways, I’ve engaged in such a gamble
Cause I could speak the truth and I know the world would unravel, wait
That’s a bit ambitious maybe I’m trippin’
Maybe I’m crazy, maybe I exist in a different dimension
Not to mention when I close my eyes I see the distance
It’s such a scary sight so I rarely go to sleep at night

10.

Noname – ‘Diddy Bop’

Following Chance The Rapper’s breakthrough, Noname was perhaps Chicago’s most natural heir, a slam-poetry, lyrically dextrous rapper with a simialrly playful tone and style in her raps.

‘Diddy Bop’, from the 2016 mixtape Telefone, is easily one of Noname’s early career highlights – a soft, positive reminisce about childhood inspired by the casual dance that P Diddy popularised in the ’90s.

This sound like Mississippi sippy cup, daddy turn bibby up
Henny invented the catalyst for happiness in my cup
This sound like kiddies on the playground when mama was running up

Henny x Hip-Hop 50 Playlist

The Hennessy Hip Hop 50th anniversary limited edition V.S bottle created with Nas is available exclusively from 80 SuperValu stores across Ireland, costing €41.



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