LOS ANGELES (January 14, 2013) – When Korean artist PSY’s “Gangam Style” took over radio waves in 2012, notable spoof videos using the song’s catchy dance beat cropped up on YouTube immediately and copiously, and a few even caught national attention: lifeguards were fired when a “Lifeguard Style” video of the employees doing PSY’s signature dance in a pool surfaced, and during the November 2012 election “Mitt Romney Style” bolstered the Democratic platform by poking fun at the Republican presidential candidate’s affluent lifestyle.
But Philadelphia-based rapper Cassidy “The Hustla” – born Barry Adrien Reese – played on the fad in the most meaningful way yet by writing lyrics for his PSA-style parody, entitled “Condom Style,” that highlight the importance of condom use and safer sex. Cassidy, 30, partnered with AHF to make the song’s official music video, which features both the Foundation’s innovative nationwide mobile condom distribution initiative Condom Nation and AHF billboards highlighting safer sex informational websites. The nonprofit’s new condom brand, “ICON,” which is larger and thinner than presently available Magnum condoms and distributed for free through AHF, is also prominently visible.
Cassidy’s choice to use his social pull with both the African American community and young people to spread safe sex messaging with AHF provides important motivation and information to two of the most at-risk demographics for contracting HIV and other STDs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African Americans have long been one of the most at-risk groups for contracting HIV – in 2009, this group made up only 14% of the population yet accounted for 44% of that year’s new HIV infections.
Furthermore, with the CDC releasing additional information recently spotlighting the rise in new HIV infections among young people – including the 12,000 new cases diagnosed in people aged 13-24 in 2012 – AIDS organizations around the world, including AHF, are shifting their focus to break through to this demographic with preventative information. With catchy, funny, and relatable lyrics – such as the tale of Stephanie, a girl Cassidy rebuffed because she wanted to be intimate without a condom – coupled with the most popular tune of the past year, “Condom Style” has succeeding in breaking that barrier, as proven by the 500,000-plus views it garnered in the first three days after its January 10 release.
MTV/BET Award-nominated director Ethan Lader directed the music video with John Columbo. Other recent directorial projects for Lader include videos for musical artists Will.I.Am, Bruno Mars, and OneRepublic.
The video, which was filmed in Hollywood at the end of December, features the rapper and a crew of Condom Nation volunteers – including some AHF staff and family members – distributing free AHF-brand condoms on Hollywood Boulevard and at a South Los Angeles shopping mall. Sweeping aerial shots show the rapper dancing on top of AHF’s 18-wheel Condom Nation wrapped big rig, which travelled throughout the United States on a 10-month tour in 2012 distributing millions of free condoms and promoting an open dialogue about condom use in both small community venues and at major events like the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC.
Also prominently displayed in the music video is the rapper dancing in front of several LA-area billboards promoting the organization’s online resources for people who want to learn more about knowing their sexual health status (www.freestdcheck.org and www.freehivtest.net) and protecting themselves from HIV and other STDs through condom use (www.useacondom.com).
“AHF is committed to spearheading a new sexual health revolution with campaigns that organically speak and connect with the targeted high-risk urban audiences around issues of prevention, testing, access to condoms, and safer sex messaging,” said Samantha Granberry, AHF’s Director of Media and Production. “The collaboration with Cassidy is an overwhelmingly successful example of reaching this niche demographic in a way that helps to end the silence and stigma currently surrounding matters of sexual health and HIV/AIDS awareness within this community.”