As KRS-One articulated throughout his catalog and in his many teachings, “Rap is something you do, hip hop is something you live.” As the culture continues to evolve today, many feel it’s not only important, but vital to preserve and honor the fundamental elements: Graffiti, emceeing, breakdancing, deejaying and knowledge. This column called “Each One, Teach One” aims to do exactly that. It will highlight various lessons that can be passed between new and old generations alike.
As exemplified in countless ways since hip hop’s inception, the ability and opportunity for an artist to expand their personal brand into other ventures is a prudent path that speaks to longevity. Hip hop has emerged at the forefront of dominating the music industry at large, solidifying itself as the most consumed genre in recent years and unsurprisingly making ample room for its leading stars to make all sorts of power moves in business. With its incredibly inspiring and well-rounded growth in mind, the notable emergence of rap artists entering the legal cannabis space is a fitting progression as well, and speaks to the transcendental nature of influence.
The cultural stigma surrounding cannabis is rapidly changing with a handful of recording artists helping lead the charge. While we as a country have a lot of work to do regarding how to ensure the future of the plant is headed in a fair and fruitful direction legally, a topic already at the center of the upcoming presidential election, many rappers have already began applying their business savvy to embrace the plant’s extensive range of medical and recreational uses on an entrepreneurial level.
Throughout hip hop’s history, all sorts of monumental business deals have been inked across every facet of contemporary culture. They’ve ranged from fashion to tech to beverages, and everything in between. In the realm of cannabis specifically, heavyweights such as Snoop Dogg, JAY-Z, Action Bronson, Wiz Khalifa, Method Man and Redman, and more have leaned into their love of weed on a legitimate level.
As recently as last week, Drake threw his name into the ring by announcing his new More Life venture, which is to be facilitated in partnership with Canopy Growth. According to a press release, the brand will be “centered around wellness, discovery, and overall personal growth with the hope of facilitating connections and shared experiences across the globe.”
Given that the Toronto native’s net worth is estimated at $150 million, his foray into the cannabis business is exciting on both a commercial and cultural level. Drizzy, who also has invested in Virginia Black whiskey and the e-sports organization 100 Thieves, would benefit from writing a book on his storied approach to cultivating his personal brand.
In the meantime, there are ample lessons to take away from his example, including executing smart collaborations, placing an emphasis on mentorship, and fearlessly embracing the art of using vulnerability and humor on social media to one’s advantage. Given his ability to appeal to a wide-ranging audience across industries, Drake’s involvement in cannabis is sure to yield a promising return, all while staying true to who he is and bringing business to his beloved hometown.
Another recent addition to the roster of rappers turned cannabis entrepreneurs is none other than JAY-Z, who announced his latest business move back in July of this year. The mogul, who has been studied and celebrated for his revolutionary business acumen, joined Caliva, a California-based cannabis company, as their Chief Brand Strategist.
This partnership is especially important for the future of the cannabis industry, as Hov will be focusing specifically on social justice issues surrounding the legalization of the plant in addition to offering input regarding creativity and overall strategy. Specifically, he aims to improve representation in the industry and work to ensure that those who have been incarcerated or disproportionally affected are not being pushed out of the legal weed business.
”Anything I do, I want to do correctly and at the highest level,” JAY-Z said in a statement surrounding the partnership announcement. “With all the potential in the cannabis industry, Caliva’s expertise and ethos make them the best partners for this endeavor. We want to create something amazing, have fun in the process, do good, and bring people along the way.”
JAY-Z’s focus on the social justice aspect of legal marijuana business endeavors is absolutely necessary and integral for all companies to mirror moving forward. Statistics show that black people are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people despite usage being roughly equal among races. From issues such as racial disparity and over-policing to matters like expunging records and ensuring that such jobs in cannabis are equally available to all to benefit from, our country must work to yield tangible change in tandem with the evolving legal status of the plant. JAY-Z’s dedication to criminal justice reform across the board is setting an example every brand can benefit from learning from.
In a multitude of ways, Snoop Dogg was one of the first mainstream names to successfully amplify his legacy through fully embracing his advocacy of the plant to build an empire. From helping start the media brand Merry Jane to co-funding the Casa Verde Capital venture firm, which is focused on funding projects in the cannabis ancillary market, Snoop has had a hand in everything from growing and branding his own set of strains (a la Leafs by Snoop) to investing in the financial landscape as a power player.
He has even worked tirelessly to help change the stigma of getting stoned by speaking openly about his usage and the many benefits the plant provides. As such, his cannabis-influenced business savvy is inspiring others to follow his example with such fearlessness and strategy, all without losing the entertainment and enjoyment factor.
Needless to say, there are ample lessons to learn from Snoop’s example. It’s hard not to praise how the rapper’s love for weed has not only become synonymous with his personal brand, but has afforded him ample opportunity in the business space, and without generating any commercial fallback reputation-wise. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that Snoop is largely to thank for helping de-stigmatize cannabis on a mainstream cultural level.
With artists such as 2 Chainz, Cypress Hill’s B-Real, Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, Ray J, Freddie Gibbs, Lil Debbie, Migos, Paul Wall, Rick Ross, Riff Raff, Soulja Boy, The Game, Xzibit, Curren$y, the late Nipsey Hussle, Berner, and more all getting involved; the list is only sure to grow over time, and ensure that the future of industry is in the hands of those who know the product and the culture best.