Pop quiz: what Oakland rap act was featured prominently in a television commercial spot during Sunday's big Super Bowl event? If you answered MC Hammer, you would be partially correct, as indeed the long fallen-from-grace (and riches) bygone Oakland pop-rap star was featured along with another former big baller, Ed McMahon, in the funny (but in a sad/tragic way) Cash4Gold commercial in which Hammer and McMahon are seen selling off their worldly possessions to get some needed cash.
But also on Sunday there was another Oakland rap act featured, or rather their music was featured, in the new series of always anticipated Super Bowl commercials.
New up-and-coming Oakland hip-hop group The High Decibels' song "That Dude" was prominently featured in the "Sphere of Summer" Super Bowl Commercial spot for Budweiser's new Bud Light Lime line of beer. The commercial, which aired in the game's exciting final quarter, was one of many anticipated new TV commercials unveiled during Super Bowl and which famously cost advertisers $3 million per 30 second spot to run on NBC but are viewed by tens of millions of potential customers.
Considering that the High Decibels are a relatively little-known group with only one album out on a small indie local label, I was curious as to how they landed their music on such a major TV spot. So yesterday I caught up in person with the group's mainman/guitarist KC, who I hadn't seen since I did an Amoeblog profile on the High Decibels back in October when they had just put out their debut album HD on Rolling Jack Records and were doing a record release party in SF. In addition to putting together the hip-hop band, whose two emcees are Duke and Chief, KC also oversees the management and business of the group.
With a wide smile on his face, KC, who has been inundated with congratulatory phone calls, texts, and emails ever since the spot aired Sunday evening, was still in a state of surprise himself. Not even sure that the spot would run, and out of fear of jinxing himself, KC didn't even tell anyone before Sunday that it might be on during the big game. But the 30 second ad for Bud Light Lime (above) did run, and in the best part of Sunday's exciting game too! The song was tightly edited down to half a minute utilizing mainly its third verse.
So how the hell did KC land his group's music in such a high profile ad? "I went to a music seminar locally here in the East Bay," he said. And there he met a guy on the panel from a music distribution company that helps lands licensing deals for music. "I handed him the High Decibels CD and the guy listened to it in his car and liked it and got back to me," recalled KC. Fast forward several meetings and several months later and the little known Oakland hip-hop group's music is part of the Super Bowl.
AMOEBLOG: So just how many people saw the commercial?
KC: They are saying 90 to 100 million people, especially because the game got really good towards the end and they put the ad in on the fourth quarter when a lot of people were really paying attention.
AMOEBLOG: What has the reaction been like since Super Bowl when it aired?
KC: It was shock because we are not a band on a certain level. We haven't even done a proper tour yet. So everyone we know was very surprised when they heard the song in the commercial...In fact we didn't even know, up to the last minute, if it would be aired during Super Bowl as part of the game. All we knew is that it was being used in a Bud TV commercial and that it might run during the Super Bowl. But today there has been a definite buzz going around for the band...especially with industry people. It is like our stock has gone up a lot.
AMOEBLOG: Without divulging your personal finances, did you make a tidy sum for the ad?
KC: Not really...But we did okay for a band that's like, really small. It is not enough to make us rich even for a year but it's enough to say 'Okay we got paid for real.'
AMOEBLOG: Yeah plus if/when it airs in the future there will no doubt be future residuals. So what is upcoming for the High Decibels, and has this changed things a lot for you guys as a group?
KC: We were already winding down from the album, which has been out for several months. And we were already starting on recording the new stuff for the second album. But this now gives the album a sort of second wind. So we'll see.
For more information on the group visit the High Decibels website or their MySpace or check out the past Amoeblog about the Oakland group. And in the meantime, below view the original video for the High Decibels song used in the commercial, "That Dude."