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Weeks after going viral with his NPR Tiny Desk Concert, Usher is making waves again with a new Rémy Martin partnership. The music superstar has teamed up with the cognac brand for the “Usher x Rémy Martin 1738: A Taste of Passion” global campaign, which launched last week with a limited-edition bottle and NFT. The kicker: the super exclusive collab sold out in two seconds.
Launched on the direct-to-consumer NFT marketplace BlockBar.com, the collaboration saw the release of 25 bottles of Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal, each reimagined in a jet-black colorway and artwork created by blending Usher’s voice with A.I. technology (the resulting sound waves basically dictated the abstract-style illustration on the label).
Made available for $500, the 25 bottles were quickly snapped up, and the lucky fans and collectors who own the NFT release can now either keep it, gift it, re-sell it on BlockBar.com’s marketplace, or redeem it for the physical bottle in October.
Usher says he’s been looking for ways to promote Black excellence through his projects, and he came across cognac after studying the rich history of jazz.
“This was really an opportunity to celebrate Black culture and highlight the cultural connection between cognac and music,” Usher told Rolling Stone during a launch party for the Rémy Martin collab at his “My Way” residency in Vegas. “In the formative days of R&B and jazz, artists actually went to France, whether because of the freedoms they were given or because they were celebrated for their music,” he explains. “And they’d play in these Parisian clubs where they would actually serve cognac. So there’s always been this undertone of Black culture in [cognac].”
The Rémy Martin campaign is also a way for the artist to flex his entrepreneurial muscles, something Usher credits to his early days around mentors like Diddy and L.A. Reid.
“I think being introduced to the marketing aspect and finding a tool to promote culture was something that was introduced to me at the age of 15 by being around Sean Puffy Combs and then also being in the environment that was LaFace Records,” he says. “You thought of music as more than just the song — what is the brand of it? What brands are associated with it? And if these are things that we naturally gravitate towards, or we use in the environments where we celebrate music, then why not tie them into a cultural experience?”
Usher is doing exactly that while performing at his “My Way” residency in Las Vegas (with dates running through the end of October). While audience members are treated to a 90-minute-long setlist of his greatest hits at the show, Usher is also launching the “Taste of Passion Experience” after the show, that gives fans a chance to attend an exclusive Rémy Martin-sponsored afterparty at On The Record, the speakeasy-style club inside Park MGM Las Vegas.
Inside the experience, guests can walk through interactive rooms with specially-created artwork and nods to Usher’s career, while sipping Remy cocktails co-created by the singer himself (think an iconic Sidecar, along with the “Rémy Roller” and “UR Way,” which are new takes on a Rémy Ginger and Tom Collins).
“I’m excited for my fans to be able to engage with what we created, and experience taste front-and-center, just like I was able to,” Usher says, about the immersive afterparty. It isn’t just the chance to snap selfies and sip on Rémy cocktails either — the singer has been known to pop-in from time to time, and he was spotted at On The Record just the other weekend sipping drinks with R&B singer Sevyn, actor Evan Ross and longtime collaborator Jermaine Dupri.
The new Rémy Martin collaboration also helps to mark the 25th anniversary of Usher’s seminal 1997 album, My Way. The singer, who opens his residency show with the title track, says it’s nice to be back in a city where he’s had so many memorable moments throughout his career. “Many years ago, when I did [the album] Here I Stand, I came here to Las Vegas and I recorded at the Palms,” he shares. “I welcome the ability to get off the beaten path and come here and be inspired,” he says. “To see the shows and other artists, it creates a little bit of inspiration and helps you start creating ideas for your next project.”
As for going viral in 2022 with his “Watch This” meme and now a sold-out Rémy collab, Usher is taking it all in stride. “I’m happy that people are excited about what I’m excited about,” he says with a smile. “I got to create something that people will enjoy, and now, I can actually share with you something that I enjoy as well.”