Gangsta R(A&P) parody video gets brothers canned from store forums

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May 19, 2006
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Aug. 29, 2007, 1:40AM


Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. — Two New Jersey brothers sacked from their grocery jobs for filming a gangsta rap parody at the store now face a defamation lawsuit from their former employer.

A&P claims the video by Mark and Matthew D'Avella motivated at least one "disgusted and distressed" customer to boycott the supermarket because of the video's "repulsive acts."

The Montvale-based chain seeks at least $1 million in compensation and demands that the D'Avellas remove "Produce Paradise" from the Internet. On Tuesday it remained on YouTube and the brothers' Web site.

The company asserts that the video "contains numerous false and defamatory statements that are injurious to the reputation and livelihood of A&P." It's also suing for trademark infringement, charging that an A&P logo can be seen on a ballcap shown in the video, though the D'Avellas contend the resolution is too fuzzy to make it out.

The 4-minute, 16-second video features the two college students rapping as they handle fruits and vegetables in different parts of a grocery store.

The brothers — styling themselves as a group called Fresh Beets — stand with bananas suggestively hanging out of their pants at one point. One pretends to urinate on some greens.

The rap's refrain is a rhyming couplet: "It's all about the produce produce, we don't like to kid/It's the lower middle portion of the food pyramid."

The rap never mentions the food chain, but A&P said several lines were "disparaging and disgusting," including, "it ain't safe in our produce paradise." The song also uses an obscenity to describe cut fruit.

The video was posted Aug. 6; the brothers were fired Aug. 23, and the lawsuit was filed Aug. 24 in state Superior Court in Flemington. The lawsuit was first reported Tuesday in the Courier News of Bridgewater.

"Producing a video that intentionally and unjustly depicts our company in a negative light, and utilizing company facilities without management knowledge of the specific content involved, is obviously a blatant violation of our policy," A&P spokesman Richard De Santa said in a statement.

The brothers worked part time at the store in Califon, near their western New Jersey home in Glen Gardner. Their father is the produce manager.

"This is just crazy that we put so much dedication into the company and they just stab us in the back," said Matthew, 19.

"We're making fun of the outlandishness of gangsta rap," said Matthew, who produced the video in anticipation of submitting it for a class project at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, where he has started his sophomore year majoring in mass communication.

Mark, 22, said he doubted the video, which had been viewed more than 6,000 times on YouTube as of Tuesday afternoon, caused any harm to A&P.

"If they lose any sales, it will be because of the way they treated two students," said Mark, a junior at the University of Delaware who is majoring in leadership.

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. operates 337 stores, mostly in the Northeast, under names including A&P, Waldbaum's, Super Fresh and The Food Emporium.

Gangsta R(A&P) parody video gets brothers canned from store | - Houston Chronicle


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