Does Febreze spell the end of gansta rap?

Jeffrey Denny

Stinks build up in the tiniest places/From the closet in your attic, to the bathroom in your basement. Odors getting trapped? Hold the plugs and sprays/With Febreze Small Spaces you get 30 days.

Listening to the Sinatra Holiday station on free Pandora one night, my festive spirit was interrupted by a gangsta rap jingle for Febreze.

I wasn’t shocked. Or even dismayed. I was relieved.

It’s been nearly 20 years since LL Cool J, Public Enemy and 2 Live Crew topped the newly established Billboard “Hot Rap Singles” chart. This was back before the Ice Cube of N.W.A. became Ice Cube the TV and movie star who once appeared with Elmo on Sesame Street.

Today we have Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Logic, J. Cole, Kevin Gates, Young Thug, Joey Badass, Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane and other rap superstars I’ve barely heard of but Googled “top rap stars 2017” to compile this list.

Just announced, the 2018 Grammy nominees for rap include Messrs. -Z and Lamar, of course, but also 6LACK, Migos, Rapsody and Tyler the Creator, Goldlink Featuring Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy and SZA Featuring Travis Scott.

None of whom, to my knowledge, have appeared on A Prairie Home Companion (which I can’t cite favorably anymore because of, well, you know about Garrison Keillor making the sexual harasser list).

In between rap’s emergence as a powerful new force in music, from game-changing to mainstreaming, after megatons of gold chains, platinum records, b-, c- and f-bombs and shocked parents, gansta rap has come to this: Selling hydroxypropyl beta-cyclodextrin.

HPβCD is the active ingredient in Febreze that “traps and binds volatilized hydrocarbons within its structural ring, retaining malodorous molecules, which reduces their volatility and thus the perception of their scent,” as Wikipedia describes.

Tupac Shakur, if he’s really actually dead, might be rolling in his grave. The Febreze jam could be the end of rap as we know it.

But I feel fine. If rap has jumped the shark, then I can skip the whole thing. And not even try to pretend to know anything about it.

It’s like how I never mastered the Electric Slide, the Macarena, Gangnam Style, the Whip/Nae Nae, Juju on That Beat, Y.M.C.A., or even the Time Warp or the Hokey Pokey, even when the dance instructions are right in the songs.

I rationalized my failure to keep up with a belief these dance fads would fade. I waited them out. I was right.

Yes, I know rap went corporate a long time ago.

Chris Brown did ads for Wrigley’s Doublemint gum.

The Black Eyed Peas, aka “The Most Corporate Band in America,” wrote and performed music for the NBA, Pepsi, Intel, BlackBerry and Bacardi.

2 Chainz did an ad for Beats by Dre.

Drake did a Superbowl ad for T-Mobile.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis sound-tracked a Miller Genuine Draft ad campaign.

Snoop Dogg redid his “Drop It Like It’s Hot” as “Pocket It Like It’s Hot” for the microwavable snack Hot Pockets.

Pit Bull’s “Freedom” was used to plug Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Then there’s Eminem, who nobody ever would accuse of being a complete corporate sellout, at least not to his face because he seems like someone who might punch your face or at least make you feel small or stupid. Maybe he’s using the corporations to get back at The Man. Whatever, his “Guts Over Fear” was used in ads for the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Bless Eminem’s heart and every rap hero who makes a buck from the power as they fight the power.

But if Febreze is the new standard, if gansta rap can sell delightful home scents like Fresh Twist Cranberry, Fresh Fall Pumpkin and Mediterranean Lavender to mask the natural Jobless Husband, Adolescent Spawn or Unchanged Litter Box, then I have a few endorsement suggestions for favorite rappers:


No brainer — M&Ms. The jingle writes itself: “The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow/Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed/But M&M with peanuts/bitch is all I really need.


JayZee Lumber Incorporated.

“Based in Joseph on the beautiful Wallowa Lake in North Eastern Oregon, JayZee Lumber specializes in custom milling utilizing hand selected logs obtained from sustainable wood sources in the area. In addition, JayZee Lumber offers many other products and services including cabin restoration and chinking services.” Things are tough there so they could use a celebrity boost.


Another no brainer — everyone loves Drake’s Coffee Cakes, Ring Dings, Yodels, Yankee Doodles and Funny Bones. And naturally, Honey Buns.

Lil Wayne

The ailing city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, sure could use a good spokes-rapper.

Ice Cube

This is way too easy. If O’Shea Jackson can do “Friday After Next” and other cinema bombs, then he definitely could be interested in helping people who make sure we have cubes over the holidays.

Gucci Mane

Also too easy, given his eponymous Gucci branding. Mr. Mane’s potential to hawk $1,000 tennis sneakers is infinite.

$375 Gucci Kids Jonathan Bootie (toddler)

But he’s way ahead of me. Check out his fashion line on This is a real thing.

But the holidays, we know, are not about loud, crass commercialism and angry vocalizing, but peace, love, serenity, silent night and good will to all.

I searched Pandora for a “Holiday Gucci Mane” station but nothing came up.

And maybe it’s just me, but don’t his songs seem to have a lot of hard-core obscenities and misogyny? This might be part of some holiday celebrations, but not ones I’ll accept Evites to, even if Harvey Weinstein has the perfect role for me.

But since I do expect holiday guests, I’m glad that a line from the now classic Febreze rap song is stuck in my head:

Eliminate odors from your corners and your crevices. All month long, they’ll be fly like the freshest kicks.

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer




A Pullet Surprise-winning writer who always appreciates free chicken.

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Jeffrey Denny

Jeffrey Denny

A Pullet Surprise-winning writer who always appreciates free chicken.

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