Wine crafted by celebrities is a rampant trend. It’s in liquor cabinets across America. It’s showboating at your local wine shop. The celebrity wine industry is approximately worth$50 million in the US alone, with over several hundred celebrities “making” wine. While their involvement spans from a direct hand in the process to straight up eponymous endorsements, everyone from Antonio Banderas to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Emilio Estevez, Francis Ford Coppola, to Fergie, are cashing in on the wine scene.
We wanted to fall off the wagon with some of these celebrities, so we organized a proper wine tasting. Rather than getting lost in the sauce—with eight bottles of celebrity wines—we called in some help from rapper Sadat X and his producer, Will Tell, known for their shared passion of wine drinking that’s best displayed in their YouTube show, True Wine Connoisseurs. Each episode begins with Sadat X drinking the “brown water” (a.k.a. Hennessey), moving onto drinking and reviewing a wine hand picked by Will Tell. By the end of the show, there’s a rap summation of Sadat’s thoughts on the bottle of choice, paired with any off-the-cuff idea that’s trickling through his mind while the camera’s running. Beyond Will Tell’s hand as musical producer and sommelier for Sadat’s wine-y episodes, he recently produced the True Wine Connoisseurs’ Planet of the Grapes, the first hip-hop wine album in history. The True Wine Connoisseurs crew is even hitchhiking on the celebrity wine bus. Paired up with Club W and Winebow, the connoisseurs have created their True Wine Connoisseur red wine, a Syrah-based California red that will be released on December 1.
Without further ado, here’s your Botox-free True Wine Connoisseurs bible on celebrity wine drinking that includes the presence of musicians Rick Ross, Dave Matthews, Train, actor Drew Barrymore, sportscaster Jim Nantz, and tattoo artist/husband of actor Lake Bell, Scott Campbell.
Rick Ross presents Luc Belaire, Provence, FR, Sparkling Rosé, ($33)
Tasting Notes Will Tell: I would actually drink this. Rosé season is over, but I would chill with this on a hot summer day. I’m getting cherry and a lot of flavors. It’s a little dry—it’s a brut.
Where You Should Drink This Sadat X: This is something I would drink with my lady somewhere. It’s got that type of feeling, ‘cause it’s only gonna take about one and a half of these, and whatever happens, happens.
Tasting Notes Will: There’s not much of a nose on this. I get a little bit of grassy flavors, and the color is even a little bit green. Sadat: This is feeling like a PTA meeting to me. This is like when the moms get together in the afternoon when the kids are at school. You drink it between 11 AM and 3 PM before the school bus comes home with the kids. You might want to drink this with an ice cube. I wouldn’t bring this into the studio, but if there was a blizzard outside and we had already finished drinking something else and this was lying around, we’d probably drink it. It’s that “this is all I got left,” type of situation, but I still love Drew Barrymore’s other work. Fucked-up Factor Sadat: If someone who is drinking this went really overboard with it, they’d probably wake up with a mind-splitting headache. I would give this about a strong five or a six.
The first time I caught wind of Gunplay was back in 2010. I was at a house party and a drunk friend of mine was raving about the manic Florida rapper with the wild dreaded mane—not for his deft and aggressive rhymes, but for his cavalier approach to snorting cocaine. Because I only vaguely recognized the MC as one of Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group hangers-on, my friend took it upon himself to drag me away from the party and give me a crash course in videos of the light-skinned MC getting knocked the fuck out, snorting heaps of blow in front of cops in Colombia, and generally acting like a some kind of ghetto Steve-O hopped up on coke and wreaking havoc. I was pretty impressed, probably because I have an affinity for maniacs. But what in the world did all of that have to do with rapping?
It wasn’t until this February, almost two years later, that I began to understand Gunplay as an artist rather than a sideshow. It was his closing verse on Kendrick Lamar’s superb track “Cartoon and Cereal” that grabbed me by the neck and pulled me into his world. When I heard him spit the lines, “No cameras, no lights, just pain/ Mama how much trauma can I sustain?” I knew there was more to Gunplay than just wilding out, even though his raucous and frenzied charisma is big part of his appeal.
Gunplay’s combination of craziness and consciousness has made him one of the most engaging figures to emerge in hip-hop. The unabashed junky has continued to up the ante on both fronts, dropping the stellar mixtape 106 & Snort while falling into even more controversy by doing things like brawling with five thugsfrom 50 Cent’s entourage at this fall’s BET Music Awards.
Right now, things are coming to a head for Gunplay. As he readies Medellin—his highly anticipated major-label debut for Def Jam, due out next spring—he also faces serious jail time for a laundry lists of criminal charges. This reality check makes me wonder whether the fire that has helped put him at the precipice of superstardom could also destroy him. Not only would a stint in prison likely derail his ascent to the heights of the hip-hop game, it would also leave his eight-year-old son without a father.
I called the rapper, whose real name is Richard Morales Jr., last week while he was on house arrest in Florida for allegedly attacking and robbing his accountant back in April. We ended up talking a lot about death, because with all the drug abuse and violent incidents, he’s been banging on heaven’s door lately. I really hope he can get himself together, slow down on the white girl, and fulfill his musical potential—even if that means we get fewer funny World Star Hip-Hop videos.
VICE: Hey man. Is everything all right? How’s house arrest? Gunplay: Yeah, I’m making it do what it do. I’m still working and I’m on that Black Ops 2, perfecting my skills. It’s cool, but I can’t wait to test the turf on the road again.
So, what is it like being Gunplay? Do you feel like you have to act crazy all the time because that is your persona? Gunplay is really me. What you see is what you get. I’ve got my chill days and I’ve got my turned-up days. But I’m mostly chill. You all just catch me when I’m wilding out.
So, the way you acted at Six Flags is how you are around your son? Well, you have to separate Gunplay from Richard Morales. That’s what I’ve been doing, lately. Trying to separate my music from my real life. You can get caught up in character.
How did having a son impact the way you look at the world? Once you know you’ve got a mouth to feed and someone to take care of who is depending on you, you go a little harder to try and get the money. Sometimes you do the wrong things to get it. I’ve been trying to balance my career, get the money, and not go to jail in the meantime.