Here’s one problem with revolving your entire musical identity around one luxury brand. Despite endless adulation from certain corners of the rap community, Mercedes is now retiring its ultra-premium, supremely expensive Maybach line, effective 2013. The Maybach, panned as a pompously marked-up S Class with prices in the $300,000-range, performed quite poorly against incumbents like Rolls-Royce and Bentley.
Retirement discussions first emerged last year, and car enthusiasts knew this was a dying bird. All of which makes this a funny twist in marketing: despite all the free publicity and material worship, it turns out the Maybach was only selling a few hundred units a year. This was a automobile saturated into endless rap songs, rap names, imprints, and videos, but a product that was ultimately an unreachable pin-up, not an aspirational possibility.
Especially ‘in this economy…’
And maybe all that attention was working against the brand. It’s a hushed topic, especially given very delicate racial waters in the US. But rap is often shunned by older, more ‘refined’ buyers, and hip-hop wasn’t exactly reared in the refined halls of the elite. Quite the opposite: rap’s embrace of its street roots is enduring, all of which makes movements like Maybach Music the perfect appropriation of upper-crust refinement. And, perhaps a turnoff to the pampered, image-conscious .001%, an elite crowd that ultimately stuck with the Rolls.
Outside of its garish opulence, perhaps there’s more reason to celebrate the death of this brand. Like many oldline German companies, Maybach was an important manufacturer for the Nazi regime in World War II, particularly for tank engines. The main manufacturing facility was ultimately bombed by Allied forces, part of a broader offensive against the Nazi manufacturing base.