When Jay-Z posed alongside a Bentley Azure for
the cover of his 1998 album, Vol. 2, Hard Knock Life, the braggadocios
rapper forever immortalized the English automobile as a hip-hop symbol of success.
So much so, in fact, on an episode of MTV's Cribs
rap impresario Jermaine Dupri quipped, "You ain't a baller unless you got
one of these," referring to the car.
Soon, however, the hit-making duo that recorded
"Money Ain't A Thang" may have to expand the Bentley for Ballers auto
Alasdair Stewart, C.E.O. of Bentley Motors, Inc.,
announced the upcoming U.S. release of the Continental GT last week (April 8)
at the New York Auto Show. The coupe, named 2004 Car of Year by Robb Report,
retails for roughly half the cost of the Azure.
"I guarantee by the end of the year every rapper will have a GT,"
Hot 97 radio personality Miss Info told AllHipHop.com. "Everybody's hype
off that Bentley 'cause they can afford it."
While $150,000 (excluding options) is hardly
a bargain, compared with a $300,000-plus price tag for a Bentley Azure, the
Continental GT is reasonably affordable.
Whereas Jigga and J.D. are also music moguls
for Roc-A-Fella and So So Def Records, respectively, now, potentially any one-hit
rapper can entertain thoughts of driving a car with the winged B on the hood.
"A rapper can get a deal and they can easily
drop 75,000 and get it [a Bentley]," said DJ Envy, the interim host of
the Hot 97 Morning Show.
The GT coupe along with the recently revealed
Bentley Arnage R and Arnage T models represent a shift in the Brand image of
the auto brand, according to David Goggins, the Director of Marketing for Bentley
Last year, the U.S. became the number one market
for the luxury automobile besting the home market of England. New York accounted
for 25% of U.S. sales with over 100 cars sold.
Though the Bentley brand is widely associated
with Jay-Z when it comes to hip-hop, countless other rappers have mentioned
the car in their rhymes as well.
A search on Online Hip-Hop Lyrics Archive (ohhla.com)
revealed up to 323 songs where rappers mention the word Bentley.
With the release of the Continental GT, rappers
can "keep it real" again and stop renting Bentley's for their appearance
The New York Auto Show runs from April 9 through
April 18. The exhibition is the best attended of the touring show in North America,
drawing nearly 1.2 million people last year.