This year, celebrating the high holiday of 4/20 is obviously a less communal endeavor but that doesn’t mean we can’t feel a sense of connection, especially here in Los Angeles where music, retail and lifestyle combine to reflect weed’s all encompassing culture. Few understand this amalgamation better than Cypress Hill’s B-Real. The local chart-topping rapper and entrepreneur owns six Dr. Greenthumb’s dispensaries (two in L.A.) and will be opening a consumption lounge in Palm Springs when Safer at Home restrictions are past us. Greenthumb has their own line of Insane Brand products, just launched a partnership with G Pen and has a cannabis inspired beer with Sweet Water Brewing called Insane OG. BReal TV and Real’s Dr. Greenthumb podcast (both produced in-house at his studio in Downtown LA.) offer guests from the world of entertainment and more talking all things cannabis. L.A. Weekly spoke of toke and much more with B-Real for 4/20.
What did you hope to bring to the cannabis space and the culture with your Dr. Greenthumb’s dispensaries?
Dr. Greenthumb’s is a physical representation of a culture that we have been living for over 20 years. For us, it isn’t a new industry so we know it inside out from genetics to cultivation and built something that was true to our expertise. We are a seed to sale, vertical operation and besides having our own strains of Insane we have close relationships with some of the top growers out there and we’re able to collaborate on some really unique products. We also haven’t taken any corporate money to date, it’s important to me that we grow thoughtfully and stay true to our vision, brand and mission.
How have the stores had to adapt since the pandemic?
Once we knew dispensaries were staying open, we immediately put delivery services in place and prepared staff to take orders by phone for faster check out. We always have security on-site but we made sure we had crowd control and healthy safety measures followed at every store. In this industry we have learned to be agile and meet crises with solutions. We are constantly dealing with rapidly changing laws and the unpredictability of mother nature so we always make sure to have a back-up plan for whatever comes our way.
Were you happy to see weed shops deemed essential businesses during the lockdown? How do you think cannabis can help us during this crisis?
You know so many people use cannabis not just for recreational but medicinal purposes so I was happy to hear they were deemed essential because the people who use it as medicine really do need it for their everyday lives. It’s a big step that its importance in our communities is recognized. The properties of cannabis really lend itself to what we are going through right now and we want to be a support system for those who need it.
You have a new album dropping this month with Berner called Los Meros. What should people expect? What are the challenges or benefits in releasing music right now? You’ve been doing a lot of live streaming lately… why is it important for music artists to share their experiences online right now?
This album is for our community whether you light up or not the tracks are meant to vibe. We combined the beats with some unique instrumental elements and have some amazing talent on the album, so there is a little something for everyone. It’s for the fans and represents the culture so we are really proud of this record. In terms of challenges, of course not being able to do any live elements is a big one. There is nothing like the feeling of hearing music live but on the other hand our digital platforms have really allowed us to connect with fans and other artists in a different way. I just did a digital listening party with all artists on the album through our Instagram pages which was wild. I think it’s a really cool way for fans to experience the album right along with us and get a glimpse into the creative process. Live streaming has always been a big part of my BREAL TV platform so it’s something I have been doing a lot of over the years and now more than ever I am happy to have it to showcase the things my fellow artists are doing and serving the community. It’s always important to share our stories but I think now more than ever if artists can provide any type of comfort or escape for their fans that’s key. It’s always our goal to transport people to another place and time so why not do it digitally? I think people are getting really creative and it is a great way to directly interact with fans in a way that I haven’t been able to do in awhile. We have new content launching through new Smokebox and Dr. Greenthumb Podcasts as well with all recent projects.
You’ve got Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Xzibit, Paul Wall, Everlast, and others on guesting on your album. Why did you want to have so many voices with you on this one? What are the basic themes of your current music output?
Berner and I went into this project with an open mind, we would be in the studio listening to a track like “Candy” and think Rick Ross would kill on this or Wiz would have a fire verse on this one so it just went from there. Especially with our drop around 4/20 we wanted this to be a collaborative project that represents all corners of the culture. This album came from a very authentic place and everyone featured on the tracks represent their own space in the hip hop and cannabis community. The music comes first and this album speaks to a culture that is bigger than us and is truly for the fans on a global scale. I am constantly creating music and staying true to the work I put in everyday. My Insane brand, Dr. Greenthumb shops, and artist collaborations are taking the forefront in my music right now. It’s a fluid process and the game is always changing with new artists coming up. I like to leave my door open for the new and old school, this has really allowed me to create music for a new wave of fans while staying consistent for the ones who have been with me throughout the years.
You were also just heavily featured in the LA Originals doc on Netflix. Why is this doc about Esteven Oriol and Mister Cartoon important history for Angelenos?
I think Estevan and Cartoon did an incredible job exposing the journey of the impact they had in every area of hip hop music. From east coast to west coast their artistry really united and documented some amazing moments in time. They influenced a whole different get down in hip hop through photography and ink that are now staples for every artist. It brought back a lot of memories and it was a great experience to be able to share some history I haven’t thought about in a minute. Estevan was part of our first album cover, he captured so many monumental moments in my life and career that we wouldn’t have to look back at if it wasn’t for him. We were really one of the first artists to get ink from Cartoon, it wasn’t really done at the time like it is now. When Cartoon came on tour with us and people started seeing his artistry in action, it really created the tattoo culture in hip hop we see today. It’s a great story that was an invaluable part of my life and before this came out I don’t think Estevan and Cartoon got enough credit on how they influenced the music of that time. In a sense Estevan really represents the history of Los Angeles, most of the time he was the only one in the room with a camera documenting a place and time that only happens once. He is a large part of creating the history we look back on and I am so happy that him and Cartoon were finally recognized for it. True artists will always be driven to create in the moment and a lot of them may not credit for the contributions they made to the culture which are capitalized on today.
What are your thoughts and or wishes to LA Weekly readers for 4/20?