Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
In the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” rapper and entrepreneur Berner makes his debut appearance on the show, and gives insight into his various exploits inside and outside of the booth. Known as one of the most powerful figures in the cannabis industry, Berner has spent the better part of the last two decades climbing up the totem pole while turning his love for marijuana into his bread and butter. As the face and spokesman for Cookies — a streetwear collection — Berner has parlayed his position in the world of cannabis into relationships with many of the biggest rappers in the game, which has resulted in a number of collaborative albums with artists like Cam’ron, Curren$y, Mozzy, Styles P, Young Dolph, B-Real and a host of others. In this interview, Berner details his beginnings in the cannabis game, how it’s affected his rap career and what we can expect from him next.
To help give fans a recap of the conversation, REVOLT compiled a list of seven things we learned from the Berner episode of “Drink Champs.” Take a look at them below.
1. The Origin of Cookies
As one of the foremost authorities on cannabis in hip hop, Berner’s brand Cookies has become a powerhouse within the industry. During his sit down, he shed light on how the company initially came to be. “At the end of the day, my partner Jai was from my neighborhood and he was bringing the bags and I was moving ’em,” Berner recalls. “I was doing my thing, I was the brander, the creator, the hype, the machine, the engine behind getting it where it had to be and I was rapping at the time, too. So, I just happened to get it cracking. So my boy Breez, he bred everything. He bred the Girl Scout Cookies, he bred the Gelato, the Sunset Sherbet. A lot of things you see in the world today, he bred it. But, I had to do the pipe up on it. The branding, the naming, the name of the strains, I take care of all of the packaging, the marketing, the business behind it. I’m actually the business behind Cookies. A lot of people think I created it. I didn’t physically create Cookies, I just put it on the map.”
2. His Introduction To Weed
According to Berner, his introduction to marijuana came at an early age due to his family ties.”When I was in Arizona, my homies had bales full of weed,” he remembers. “They had bales, like, big bales of weed, bedrooms, closets, houses full of this shit. We’d go in there as little kids and take out fucking handfuls, and eat it and roll it up in Walgreens receipts, and smoke it and not know what to do with it. We was playing with it, we was watching Friday, having fun with the weed. And when I went back to California, I told all of my older homies and older brothers that was in the business at the time, I was like in 5th or 6th grade, bro. I was like, ‘Look, out in Arizona they got bales,’ and they’re like, ‘Nah, bro, you know how much this shit cost,’ and they showed me bomb, which we used to call it dro. Bomb, $20 a gram and I was just blown away ’cause it beat everything I ever seen in Arizona. So, when I fell in love with cannabis is when I took that first flight from California to AZ. I took an OG long sock, cut a hole in that bitch, put it in my pants, let it hang down my pants. I brought two zips and when I showed up to Arizona with that thing, I realized the impact that good weed has, the conversation it starts and just how powerful it is having something that no one else can get.”
3. His Partnership With Gary Payton
Berner shook the cannabis game up with one of his most popular strains, which is named after NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton. The rapper reveals how his relationship with “The Glove” came to be. “Dude, the randomnest shit happened, bro, shout out to Gary Payton,” he says. “When you plant seeds, you number them… Well, we did only about fifteen strains on this and the number 20 was just popping and my boy Powers Up naturally just started calling it that GP, that Payton. Well, his sons follow me, I guess, so just in the few times we mentioned it online, some people in Oakland started bootlegging it. ‘OK, Bern’s bout to pop the Gary Payton,’ they made fake baggies and everything. So, his sons hit him, I believe, and told him there’s bags floating around. He thought we were the ones putting out the fake bags. So, when I got with him, he hit me — through some mutual friends, powerful people may I say — and we sat down for lunch in Oakland. He pulled up in the white Range Rover, bolo, hopped out like a gangster and I think he thought I was on some bullshit. And when I broke it down to him like, ‘Nah, I would never put out a bag that looks like that, but I do have this strain.’ And I showed it to him at lunch, bust it out, the whole restaurant smell it, I said ‘Look, we can do this.’ And I thought it would be cool ’cause he don’t smoke weed, but he’s the Hall of Famer, he’s The Glove, he’s the man, his attitude is everything. I said, ‘Look, I wanna put you on a bag like a Wheaties box. I wanna be the first person to do that shit and I want to do it legitimately, can you do that?’ And he said, ‘I’m already in the Hall of Fame, they can’t take shit from me, baby boy, let’s do it.’ So, out of nowhere, Gary Payton has the best weed on the market right now, but it happened organically.”
4. Meeting Wiz Khalifa
Of all of his relationships in the rap world, Wiz Khalifa is amongst Berner’s closes friends. He shares his memories of first meeting Wiz nearly a decade ago. “Wiz came by the club I was running back when — so before Cookies was Cookies, he came by there,” Berner shares. “I was running the store, I was the buyer and the manager at the cannabis club, he came by, we got high, he was cool as fuck. It was before ‘Black and Yellow,’ I think. In regards to his dealings with Taylor Gang Records, Berner makes it clear that they’re still on good terms, regardless of his partnership with Empire. “We’re still doing business,” the MC confirms. “And the thing about me, bro, I just move so fast, bro. I like to just move at my own pace and I think it’s a little overwhelming sometimes because these albums could’ve been a lot bigger and marketed a lot more.”
5. Working With Cam’ron
One of Berner’s more acclaimed collaborative projects is Contraband, which he released alongside Cam’ron in 2015. The Bay Area boss gives N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN the rundown on his initial encounters with the Diplomat. “Let me tell you a story about Cam, bro. I reached out to him to get on me and Young Dolph’s album. So, Cam’ron is such a gentlemen, he was in L.A. I told him, ‘I want you to come be on the record.’ He said, ‘Call me, I’m driving. Where you at?’ I’m like, ‘Yo, I’m in the Bay.’ He said, ‘I’ma drive over there and knock it out.’ I’m like, ‘He’s lost, he’s not coming over here.’ Cam’ron drove from L.A. to the Bay. Now mind you, he only thought it was two hours away, but he drove six and he knocked the verse out in my house, and fucking got on the plane to Vegas an half-hour later.”
6. His Relationship With B-Real
When speaking of smokers in hip hop, B-Real has to be near the top of the list. Berner shares his history with the Cypress Hill member and how their relationship blossomed. “When I was around 18 or 19, I seen him at the Rainbow Lounge, which is like a popular bar in L.A. [where] we can smoke bud on the patio and eat food. He’s the one that set that up. So, when I was younger, I was trying to link with him. I brought my little mixtape through and some guy approached me that was around him, tried to get to sign up a fourteen album deal with no advance or nothing. Like, bro, I’d fuck with you, but I been trying to meet B-Real. And one time he reached out to me to get on the smoke box and when I got in, we caught a good vibe. And I just said, ‘Let’s do an album, bro,’ and he was like, ‘Cool,’ and we knocked that shit out in four hours, and it was classic. So, the vibe was there from the beginning.
7. His Favorite Thing About The Cannabis Game
During his conversation with the “Drink Champs,” Berner shares what he loves most about working in the cannabis industry and how it leaves him in a state of fulfillment. “I think the favorite thing about the cannabis game is actually being able to be a part of someone’s day,” he explains. “So like, if I sell you a bag at my store, if you go to Cookies and you buy a bag, that’s gonna help you with a hard day. It’s gonna help you when you’re celebrating, you’re gonna celebrate with my weed. You’ll listen to music, you’re gonna make, you’re gonna create. It actually affects somebody and their day, and what they do, and their decisions, and their mood, and their life. It’s more than just selling someone some weed and making some money. They’re gonna take that shit, they’re gonna smell that shit, they’re gonna share it with their friends, they’re gonna smoke that shit. And whether they’re venting, creating, celebrating, chilling, they just got done fucking and wanna smoke a joint, we’re a part of someone’s day. They use this as part of their day. I think that’s cool as fuck, to me, bro.”
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