Jay-Z was popping Cristal back when a lot of ya thought it was beer and shit. But then in '06 he realized that them fuckers racist, so he switched gold bottles and went on to that Ace of Spades and overnight it became the hip-hop's drink of choice. But it turns out Hov's co-sign might not be as authentic as you think. In a new piece titled "Jay-Z’s Great Champagne Robbery"—which is excerpted from the new book Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner To Corner Office—The Atlantic uncovers the real depth of Hov's associations with Armand de Brignac (which he casually refers to as Ace of Spades) and how much coin it's generating for one of rap's reigning cash kings.
On how much cake Hov is making off the brand:
"All of them confirmed that Jay-Z receives millions of dollars per year for his association with Armand de Brignac. The connection wasn't through the Cattier family, but through Sovereign Brands. The production cost per bottle of Armand de Brignac is about $13; the wholesale price is $225. The maximum output is 60,000 bottles per year. If Jay-Z splits the $212-per-bottle profit evenly with Cattier and Sovereign, a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests his annual take would be a little over $4 million. One of my sources confirmed that number, and added that Jay-Z may have received equity in Sovereign Brands worth about $50 million."
On the perceived quality of Ace of Spades:
"Jay-Z may tout Armand de Brignac in his songs and videos, but to some champagne industry veterans, it's at best a mediocre product masquerading as a high-end delicacy. 'It tastes like shit,' says Lyle Fass, an independent wine buyer in New York. 'At least Cristal tastes good.'"
The inconsistent story on how Jay-Z discovered the little known French liquor label:
"Shortly after Armand de Brignac's debut in 2006, Bienvenu claims, Jay-Z came across it purely by chance. 'When we started to ship product to the U.S. and especially to New York, Jay discovered our champagne in a wine shop and bought a few bottles,' he says. 'There has never been any partnership, any financial involvement, or something like this between Jay and us.'... But the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office confirms that the first bottles of Armand de Brignac weren't shipped to the U.S. until the fall of 2006—months after Jay-Z's video was filmed. Obviously, it would have been impossible for Jay-Z to stumble upon a bottle of champagne in a New York wine shop.