Rap and cannabis have always been the greatest of partners, at least in the public eye. But, as far as industries go, they are vastly different.
Could there be something they have in common, something they can learn from each other? Well, for the iconic rapper, broadcaster and actor Xzibit, there definitely is.
In a recent, exclusive conversation, he talked about bringing his expertise, honed in the music industry, to the development of his cannabis brand, Napalm, and about the benefits cannabis can bring to society as a whole.
Bigger Than Just A Product
This is not the first time Xzibit has ventured into the cannabis business. A couple of years ago, he partnered up and created the edibles brand LOL Taffy. But things have changed a lot since then: “That was kind of like getting my feet wet. It was a different time. But it was great because I got to cut my teeth on something and I love being able to build things from the ground up.”
As years went by, the rapper took all the experience he had amassed from mass marketing and putting out records, and created the (famous and then infamous) company Brass Knuckles with two other partners.
This cannabis vape carts venture, however, would turn out to be a “huge part of (his) learning curve in the cannabis industry.”
In fact, one of the company’s top selling products was none other than Napalm, which had been named after one of Xzibit’s albums, and would later turn into his own brand — after leaving Brass Knuckles.
‘Get Your Walk On’
Even though the falling out was less than amiable, Xzibit remembers the experience with Brass Knuckles fondly.
“It was incredible because we created a brand that had an identity, and that hadn’t been seen in the cannabis industry: it was more of a lifestyle,” he said. “The experience that I brought from the music industry was a lot of what made Brass Knuckles’ messaging what it was. You know people with oil, with carts, with flowers, but to be able to create an identity, a lifestyle brand, something that people wanted to be a part of… That was bigger than just a product. I think that’s the advantage that we have coming from the entertainment side: to be able to find those messages that attract people to the brand at a mass level. And I think we’ve been able to bring that into Napalm.”
Today, he finds it refreshing to be around people who understand the cannabis market and how to make a premium product, he added. Xzibit makes it very clear: his brand has to be the best of the best, and to set innovative standards for others to follow. Because, unlike other celebrities that limit themselves to be the face of a brand, he is the heart of the creative and decision making process, he assured.
As for “being the very best,” Xzibit proudly emphasized the quality of his products. He assured me that Napalm products are rigorously tested up to the standard of California state code and that safety is a priority for the company.
He also acknowledged the health concerns about vaporizers, which he stated were caused by illicit market, untested devices, and shared a very interesting perspective: “I gotta ask you a question. You wouldn’t buy cold medicine from somebody in an alley, out of a trunk, at 12 o’clock at night. Why would you think that it’s okay to buy a smokeable cannabis product from somebody in an alley out of a backpack? (…) You have to be cautious, you have to buy our products from licensed facilities from licensed distribution. There is no other way to get Napalm. If you are able to get it out of somebody’s trunk, then you’re not buying real authentic Napalm.”
The Public Eye
The music business is not the only place where Xzibit got his expertise: he was also the host of the MTV’s hit show Pimp My Ride for several years.
When I asked him if there was anything he took from his time on TV to develop his brand and make it visible, he pondered on the limitations of advertising a cannabis brand on TV, given the lack of federal legality.
But he has his hopes set in the future. The situation will be reversed soon enough, he said.
“That’s going to be incredible. You know, there’s a lot of firsts that have not happened in the cannabis industry and we want to definitely be there, to be the first television commercial for Canada Discovery. (…) I can’t wait until we have the opportunity to do a Super Bowl commercial. I don’t care how much it costs!”
Down this line, Xzibit pointed out the unfairness of alcoholic beverages and tobacco companies being allowed to advertise their products on TV, despite boh having been proven to be far more harmful than cannabis.
But the rapper does recognize that we, as a society, have come a long way in accepting cannabis and its health benefits.
“When I was a teenager, when it was illegal, when it was taboo, when people were still being arrested for it, and to see where it is now, where it is considered a medicine that helps so many people with so many conditions… Cannabis came in and was able to help heal children, not just people that smoke. People have this idea of cannabis being like this hippie thing, or only for rappers. It has this negative connotation, but it helps millions of people. It’s not just the hemp side of it, but the CBD side, where people aren’t using this for the psychedelic effect of THC.”
Besides the obvious health benefits, he highlighted the socioeconomic benefits of cannabis legalization as well, from the billions of dollars being made in tax revenue that go right back into the State to the importance that decriminalization has had in community efforts all across the country.
A Higher Cause
Quality and safety may be Xzibit’s top priorities concerning the company, but they certainly are not the only ones. The rapper wants social justice to be one of Napalm’s pillars as well. In fact, he has partnered with the social equity applicant Greenwood Distribution to supply his products throughout California. But this is far from the only effort he plans to make in that direction.
One of his main intentions is partnering up with veterans.
“I’d like to dedicate part of our income to giving back to our veterans,” he declared. “Giving people access to medicine, who don’t necessarily have the income. I’d like to be able to help on that level, and not only do donations through activism. That is something that is very important to me. My father was a veteran. He was a Marine, and he recently passed away… I’d love to be able to build something, in his honor, and use part of Napalm as a way to give back to our veterans.”
Lastly, I asked him what he would say if he could sit in front of Congress and share a heartfelt message in favor of legalization. His answer struck me as brutally honest and comprehensive:
“Unfortunately, the people that I’m speaking with aren’t really interested in people’s hearts. But the economic side of federally legalizing cannabis will be so positive! You’re talking about lowering the national debt. You’re talking about educational increases, tax revenue. You’re talking about improving your Security, your infrastructure in each city. You’re talking about pumping vital resources back into the communities of people who need them, who’ve lost jobs to downsizing of work staff. Trucking industry and shipping from coast to coast will have a new revenue outlet. I mean, there’s so many positives and upsides to people that need to be put back to work.”
But he makes it clear that the economy will not be the only one to benefit from the eventual legalization of cannabis. “On top of the shoe, the humanity of it, the leasing of relief to people in our legal system that are there for nonviolent drug or drug related convictions. So those people will be led out from prison and can actually be part of society. They need to be back with their families and their communities to take care of their kids.”
In the end, he did give me the heartfelt message I was hoping for. “If it’s decriminalized, I believe that from the bottom of my soul that there is a medium ground that everybody can meet at,” he concluded. “It can be done in a financial way or in a human way, it can be done either way. You know, if alcohol can be legal, if cigarettes can be legal then cannabis can be legal as well.”