When Kanye West released The Life of Pablo in early 2016, he was praised for pushing the boundaries of hip-hop. But Kanye also did something that rappers have been doing nearly every single year since 1992, when he says, "Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy, this is pure luxury / I give 'em Grey Poupon on a DJ Mustard, ah!": He referenced the overpriced white wine Dijon mustard Grey Poupon.
It all starts with this 1981 ad for Grey Poupon, then owned by Heublein Inc. Up until the 1980s, Grey Poupon ads were only in print magazines like Food & Wine and Cosmopolitan. But mustard was the condiment of the 1980s, and Heublein wanted Grey Poupon to be on everyone’s shelves.
By the late ’80s, the ad had completely changed the face of the brand, and people across the US knew the phrase, "Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?" by heart.
This brings us to 1992, when Brooklyn hip-hop duo Das EFX released their debut album, Dead Serious. Das EFX had a super-fast flow, started the trend of putting "iggity" at the end of words, and were pop culture–referencing fiends. Their song "East Coast" combines all of these trademark elements and also marks what is probably the first Grey Poupon reference in hip-hop history. They did it with this verse, "He's the don, have you seen my Grey Poupon? Bust this, we roll more spliffs than Cheech and Chong."
From then on, Grey Poupon became the condiment of choice for rappers who wanted an easy rhyme that also illustrated the idea of status, luxury, and class. From 1992 to 2016, Grey Poupon references popped up in hip-hop songs nearly every year.
Here’s the thing. The ad campaign ended around 1997, but through my research I discovered that Grey Poupon references in hip-hop spiked in 2007. That’s a full decade later. Why would this happen? Watch the video above to find out.
As a bonus, here’s a Spotify playlist with some of the best Grey Poupon songs from the past 24 years.