Photo: Getty
  /  08.19.2022

Vic Mensa is making boss moves with his new initiative called 93 Boyz, which is the first Black-owned cannabis company in Illinois.

The core of the company’s mission is to reinvest in the communities and individuals that have been historically and disproportionately affected by outdated laws and prejudices regarding cannabis consumption, while elevating the underserved.

Among the community-based initiatives that the brand will be undertaking is Books Before Bars, a program dedicated to providing books to Illinois prison libraries, providing inmates with potentially transformative resources.

REVOLT chatted with the rapper about his new initiative, his experience with edibles, his upcoming album and much more. Peep the chat below!

93 Boyz is your latest venture and it’s the first Black-owned cannabis brand in Illinois. What made you want to dabble in this industry? 

Cannabis was the first industry I was in as a preteen — selling weed was my first hustle before I ever made anything of rap. In many different ways and in different points of time in my life, I’ve been involved with cannabis. As the legislation in Illinois has changed, it has been a priority of mine to take part in this industry. Coming from a community that has been so impacted by the war on drugs, I felt it was necessary that we, as a whole, are represented in this cannabis industry.

What sets 93 Boyz a part from other existing cannabis businesses? 

In Chicago, the cannabis industry is predominantly white and there are very few people of color who have ownership. There hasn’t been any native Illinois brands that are Black-owned that have been selling legally in the state thus far. Our aesthetic, our direction, and being the first Black-owned dispensaries is what sets us a part. We are also committed to use a portion of the proceeds to do community-based initiatives like our Books Before Bars program.

Compared to California and Colorado [that] have been leading the cannabis industry… the state of Illinois is very new to this industry and the strength of brands isn’t in Illinois as of yet.

You touched on Books Before Bars. Let us know about the program and why it’s near and dear to your heart. 

Books Before Bars is a program where we’re putting together a large number of influential literary titles and sending them to Illinois jails and prisons. It’s near [and] dear to my heart because I’ve been sending books to friends of mine in jail and prison for a decade now, and I’ve seen the incredible impact that the bright books have had on people in my life while incarcerated. I’ve seen the way that a little book at the right point in time for somebody facing a life sentence can transform their entire mind frame and bring them a sense of internal freedom even when the body is confined.

In this country, many Black men are still incarcerated for possession of marijuana and are fighting to be set free. With more businesses being built since weed is becoming legal, do you think we’ll finally see changes in our system and overturn marijuana possession charges?

I have to say free Allen Russell who is currently serving a life sentence for like an ounce of weed. The court recently upheld his life sentence and he was sentenced in 2019. We’re talking about right in the midst of widespread legalization, a brother in Mississippi was just sentenced to life in prison for an ounce of weed. It’s a tragedy and a travesty because [it’s a] complete aberration of justice and a true testament to the ridiculously hypocritical nature of United States law.

Do you prefer edibles or blunts? 

I can’t eat edibles in public or I’ll be an emotional roller coaster (laughs). I’d be laughing and crying — it’s too deep for me.

Have you experienced a bad or good trip before? 

Almost a decade ago, I was going with my girl to get her medical card. Back in the day you used to have to go down to Venice Beach to some of these sham doctors where you would say your elbow hurts and receive a card. I went with my boy Lottery, who was an executive at Motown at that time, and he gave me an edible lollipop when we left our meeting. As we were leaving, I began to feel myself getting very high and I was driving a separate car from my girl. I became extremely distracted by the radio because they were discussing Nipsey Hussle and it was the most wildest s**t I’ve ever heard in my life to the point where I couldn’t provide directions. At this point, I’m lost trying to get back to the hotel and it was almost time for me to have a meeting with Ethiopia, who was running Motown at the time. I was so high that I began to cry and felt like I couldn’t have a meeting with nobody. After that, I headed to sleep and when I woke up, I felt happy. So yeah, an emotional roller coaster (laughs).

What’s the best rolling paper one should use and why? 

The best rolling papers are raw papers. Raw papers have taken over. A lot of what we smoke on the joint side were like tops and easy widers. White papers have strong taste compared to raw papers, which has a more mild, palatable taste — a more natural unbleached paper.

Is there a celebrity you have a great time getting high with? 

One person I rarely see without smoking is Ty Dolla $ign. He smokes good, too. He’s a professional smoker and is probably one of those guys who are smoking their own thing. He definitely smokes. You damn near gotta pull up with some weed.

What are your go-to munchies? 

Insomia Cookies and I’m ordering the s’mores cookies with ice cream.

You’re also tapped to head to West Africa for a festival with Chance The Rapper next year. How are you preparing for that? 

We’re raising the resources and getting artists onboard — working with a lot of people on the ground. In Ghana, our team is largely Canadian and they’re tied in to the culture on the ground. There’s a lot of pieces to it, but the mission of the Black Star Line Festival is building bridges and creating a pipeline for collaboration of global Blackness.

Describe a Vic Mensa concert experience and what can a fan expect when they see you performing?

My concerts are a powerful, inspiring experience and have a range of energies from high intensity to profound messaging along with lyricism and melody. Overall, someone can leave my concerts feeling inspired.

What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to and why? 

The best concert I’ve been to was the Pitchfork Festival where Lauryn Hill performed. She brought me to tears. This was a different cry from when I was on the edible…

On “Wraith,” you say, “I swear this s**t feel like Attack Of The Clones, fathered them n**gas, I gave em they sound, it might’ve worked out if I wrote em they songs, one of one kerby, I got this s**t sown.” Do you feel like today’s rappers have been heavily influenced by the Vic Mensa sound? 

A hundred percent that I’ve given a lot of people influence. If you look to some of my earliest moments, like the rock and roll or punk-rock styles that I was doing from the beginning and how overarchingly popular they’ve become now — no diss to anybody — I’ve inspired people the same way that people have inspired me before me.

You also rapped “This rap s**t got slow, went and got me a pound, that Tokyo grown…” What is it about rap right now that makes you feel like it’s slow? Do you feel Hip Hop is losing its spark? 

No, I don’t think hip hop is losing the spark. What I was referring to was just my personal relationship with it and right now I’m getting more energized with music than I’ve been in a long time. I’m just very excited about my album. I’m in LA and mixing right now and putting finishing touches on things.

How are you approaching this new body of work to ignite that flame into hip hop again? Any rappers you want to collaborate you? 

I’ve been collaborating with Chance The Rapper a lot and I’ve been doing a lot more production on this project. This album is largely themed around my own personal growth and is one of my strongest offerings. It’s really my second full length album ever and it has a lot of depth, variation, and it’s good music.

How do you feel you’ve grown since your last project? 

I’ve grown in too many ways to address them all. One of my main primary areas of my growth has been honoring and protecting my gift. Gratitude and prioritizing my peace, which are ways I’ve grown as a man in life. So, the music will represent that.

Who in hip hop right now do you feel is bringing it? 

Saba is doing amazing things. I would like to also call out David Sabastian who is inspiring and influential to me. I think he’s one of the best and I encourage people to listen to him. Also, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Kanye West.

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