Jay-Z may very well have 99 problems but his position in the cannabis industry ain’t one.
The hip hop man, myth, and legend has been no stranger to cannabis — but not in the way you think. He very rarely smokes it, reportedly telling others around him to keep away from the magic ‘erb (or so the rumors say).
One of the only times he succumbed to temptation was during the making of his hit single “XXL” from the critically-acclaimed The Blueprint album. He couldn’t finish it the way he wanted. Blazed a joint or two and discovered a newfound sense of creativity.
It’s, therefore, weird to think of him as a cannabis entrepreneur with so little personal cannabis experience, but he’s a savvy businessman through and through. Outside of hip hop, he jumped into a variety of industries such as clothing, real estate, sports, beverages, and, of course, record labels with huge success.
Where there’s money, there’s an opportunity. With so much interest in cannabis, it’s no surprise he wants a slice of the pie.
This year, he not only launched his own cannabis brand but also took a senior position in an already existing cannabis startup.
Let’s take a look at Jay-Z’s journey into the cannabis industry in more detail.
Jay-Z started in 2019 as Chief Brand Strategist for Caliva, a California-based cannabis company.
In 2020, Caliva merged with other cannabis companies to form TCPO Holdings Corp. He is now Chief Visionary Officer.
He also set up his own cannabis company named Monogram in partnership with Caliva.
All throughout his cannabis career he has spearheaded social justice and criminal reform movements, something very close to his music and lyrical influence in hip hop.
Jay-Z’s position in the cannabis industry could have a positive impact on how many view cannabis use. His social justice and criminal justice movements are already having a positive effect.
Other celebrities endorsing (or investing in) cannabis include Snoop Dogg, Ghostface Killah, Mike Tyson, and Gwenyth Paltrow.
Jay-Z’s first steps into the cannabis industry…
Jay-Z’s first steps into the cannabis industry started with a California-based company called Caliva as Chief Brand Strategist.
This role allowed Jay-Z to not only steer the company’s creative direction but also allowed him to flex his social justice muscles, something that’s firmly entrenched in his music.
He started social outreach programs — job training, workplace development, and occupational opportunities all included.
Speaking with CNN Business, Caliva’s CEO, Dennis O’Malley, wanted Jay-Z’s newly-assigned role to become a revolutionary act, focusing on and working to “increase the economic participation of citizens returning from incarceration”.
Who is Caliva?
Caliva is a vertically-integrated cannabis supplier, manufacturer, and delivery service based in San Jose, California. The company was founded in 2015 and has two retail locations in San Jose and Bellflower, as well as products stocked in over 200 licensed dispensaries all across CA.
Over the past four years, Caliva has grown exponentially, boasting 600 employees producing roughly 11,000 pounds of marijuana cannabis each year in its cultivation and manufacturing facilities. The company is proud of its sustainable cannabis growing techniques and is committed to transparency, safety, and accessibility.
Now, with Jay-Z on the team, Caliva is one of the biggest and most notorious cannabis companies in the US.
What products do Caliva sell?
Caliva sells a huge range of cannabis and hemp-derived products including:
Cannabis extracts and concentrates
What’s special about Caliva?
Aside from Jay-Z’s inclusion into Caliva and its wide range of cannabis-related products, the company enforces strict stances on many social issues, specifically criminal justice reform.
In 2019, Caliva took part in National Expungement Week, an annual 7-day event designed to provide legal relief to 77 million US citizens currently with a criminal record, many with cannabis-related offenses.
Over forty expungement clinics were set up across the US, mainly in areas where the War on Drugs had the biggest effect. Services included:
Caliva is now merging with other companies…
As of November 2020, Caliva is in the process of merging with other California-based companies and brands in an effort to boost revenue and dominate the California cannabis market. Jay-Z will act as Chief Visionary Officer. The role will be very similar to his already existing Caliva position.
The company is called TCPO Holding Corp. Jay-Z and his Roc Nation Clothing brand will lead the brand’s strategy and marketing.
According to BBC News in the UK, he aims to “enlist other leading artists and entertainers to promote the business”, as well as “working towards meaningful change in the criminal justice system”.
TCPO already has Rihanna and Meek Mill as shareholders.
This move could see TCPO becoming one of the largest, most prolific cannabis companies in California — Jay-Z and Roc Nation’s influence helping it along the way.
Its product range is currently unknown, though we imagine the same as Caliva with extra cash flow. Research and development or more enhanced cannabis products might be in the pipeline. Only time will tell!
Jay-Z's own cannabis company making the headlines as well
Jay-Z’s original move into the cannabis industry via Caliva wasn’t the beginning and end of his journey. Just a little over one year after becoming its Chief Brand Strategist, he set up Monogram, a cannabis company in partnership with Caliva itself.
The playlist features tunes from Outkast, Bob Marley, Cypress Hill, The Beatles, and Dr Dre designed to enhance your Monogram cannabis experience. Most of the tracks also refer to cannabis — Peter Tosh’s Legalize It and Cypress Hill’s Stoned Is the Way of the Walk being the most on-the-nose.
Who is Monogram?
Monogram is a cannabis supplier and manufacturer based in California.
According to the site, Monogram “marks a new chapter in cannabis defined by dignity, care and consistency…a collective effort to bring you the best, and a humble pursuit to discover what the best truly means”.
Right now, no products are on sale. No-one knows when products will be released to the public. All we know is Monogram is putting in every effort to produce the very best cannabis products in the US right now.
The company’s flower is grown in small batches, receiving personalized care and attention from “its expert growers”. In terms of the pre-rolls it’ll be offering, each one will be hand-rolled with hand-selected cannabis flower, ensuring quality all throughout the process.
Monogram will continue Jay-Z’s cannabis advocacy and social justice vision
Jay-Z’s history of social reform and justice advocacy (insofar as cannabis legalization) in his personal and professional life gives Monogram a sense of integrity. His previous work with Caliva will no doubt bleed into Monogram, advocating for drug and criminal justice reform.
No Monogram products have been released yet but we expect high-quality cannabis flower and pre-rolls to start with.
How will Jay-Z’s influence change the cannabis industry landscape?
Hip hop and cannabis are essentially synonymous with each other. Underground and mainstream rap of the ‘80s and ‘90s glorified cannabis use but in a—dare we say—cool way.
Before then, the magical herb was seen as a “stoner” drug. A little weird. No quite as upmarket as cocaine but not as far-out as magic mushrooms or LSD. Many associated it with leftie-loving, free spirit hippy types and anti-establishment heavy metal kids in biker jackets listening to Metallica in their basements.
Hip hop superstars get onboard
Cyprus Hill, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg gave cannabis mainstream popularity later on and brought it into common public consciousness — hell, even Beastie Boys referenced cannabis used in their tunes.
The point is, Jay-Z and other hip hop artists endorsing (or investing in) cannabis isn't shocking to those who lived through the 80s, 90s, and 2000s where cannabis use and lyrical references were rife.
Social justice and cannabis reform
Jay-Z’s interest in (and advocacy of) cannabis, as well as social justice, will further push it into the realm of acceptance. Paired with pro-cannabis legislation in the United States pushed through each year, we see his artistic status and prolific business acumen enhancing cannabis’ credibility against naysayers and anti-drug advocates.
Hopefully, Jay-Z’s influence can turn the tide and allow cannabis some respite after decades of unwanted prohibition. Above all else, we hope cannabis is also rid of the unnecessary stigmas and taboos associated with its use.
Other celebrities jumping on the cannabis trend
Snoop Dogg hasn’t “jumped” on the cannabis trend per se. The man has always had his hand in cannabis, advocating for recreational and medicinal legalization for years. In fact, many believe he’s the “Messiah of Marijuana”. He even said he’d invite former President Barack Obama to his house to discuss the benefits of cannabis legalization over a joint or two of his finest Kush.
This didn’t happen, unfortunately. But when Snoop was finally invited to the White House, he apparently smoked a blunt or two while there. No one can officially confirm this but it’s a great story anyway.
In 2015, Snoop Doggy Dogg went one step further, creating his own cannabis company, Leafs By Snoop, in partnership with Canadian cannabis producer Tweed (a subsidiary of Canopy Growth). The company specializes in high-grade cannabis flower and edibles.
According to Green Market Report, Leafs By Snoop is the most recognizable cannabis brand in the US, presumably because its logo is dangerously similar to the Toronto Maple Leafs logo. A lawsuit was filed in 2019. Snoop probably sparked a joint in protest.
As of 2020, the Leafs By Snoop website is inactive.
From being a post-Muhammed Ali boxing prodigy and biting Evander Holyfield’s ear off to becoming a successful businessman, entrepreneur, and entertainer, Mike Tyson’s career has been somewhat eccentric. The guy beats to his own drum and people admire him for it.
You, therefore, won’t be shocked to learn of Mike Tyson’s cannabis venture. He certainly didn’t do things by halves. Not only has he created his own Tyson Ranch cannabis company, but he’s also developing a Tyson Ranch cannabis resort, featuring an edibles factory, a 40-acre campground, and a huge entertainment amphitheatre.
Gwenyth Paltrow’s interest in cannabis isn’t a surprise, though it has rustled a few feathers. The actor-turned-entrepreneur caused quite the stir with her outrageously expensive “lifestyle” brand Goop. The brand offers a range of absurd and downright bizarre products ranging from vagina scented candles and “vampire repellents” to silk toothbrushes and jellyfish tanks.
The cannabis gatekeepers don’t want this pretentiousness in the industry, but it hasn’t stopped Paltrow from investing in cannabis beverage company Cann, stating cannabis is “the hero ingredient of the future”. Be on the lookout for vagina scented Indica beverages near you soon…
Arguably one of, if not the best rappers to ever live, Ghostface Killah has gone from Wu-Tang Clan to Wu Goo, a range of cannabis products sold through California-based company Dynamite Stix. The company sells near-70% THC vape oils, as well as cannabis pre-roll joints, oils, and edibles.