I interviewed hip-hop star and National Cannabis Party (NCP) co-founder Redman at the CWCBExpo at New York's Javits Convention Center on June 3. It was a big day at the canna-conference. My on-stage interview was followed by Mayor Eric Adams, who exhorted attendees to "light up."
Redman made news as well when I asked him why - unlike Willie Nelson, Method Man, Jay-Z, B-Real, Wiz Khalifa and others - he doesn't have his own cannabis brand.
Redman grimaced as he answered. "My boy Meth deserves his own brand. Wiz Khalifa deserves his own brand. Jay-Z has never promoted smoking cannabis on anything. I don't know what the fuck he's doing with a brand. I tell it to their face. I'm very transparent. All these stars that think they can just jump in the cannabis industry and make a little money, they don't even have the right linguistics. They say, 'Yeah, I'm about to sell some drugs.' I'm like, 'Give me a...' I let 'em know. None of them don't know shit about the cannabis industry, But they want to get in the game because they think it's a stepping stone to some more money. I'm like, Fuck that!
"Me? I done turn down mega, mega money from endorsing cannabis products. None of y'all never seen a Redman vape pen, a Redman strain, Redman anything becasuse for some reason God was telling me everytime anyone offered me a business deal as far as the cannabis industry, he said, 'No." I was like: Are you sure 'cause I could use this money? He's like: 'No, I'm saving you for a bigger picture.' This was like seven years ago. Yes, I could've been a millionaire just endorsing other brands and having my own strain. But God said, 'No.' When God tells you something you don't have to understand it, you just have to be obedient. And I was obedient.
Redman: "Jay-Z has never promoted smoking cannabis on anything. I don't know what the fuck he's doing with a brand."
"Plus, just to be very clear, all these artists who got their name on a brand, their white labeling it. I don't want to white label it. I want to actually be with the grower, be on the farm, grow it, taste it, say, 'No, that's not it,' and then go back in again. Whether it takes three-four years to get my strain, that's how I wanna do it. I wanna do it organically. I wanna grow with that plant, I wanna be entwined with the plant, all that good shit. I don't want to put my name on a white-label brand and say it's my brand. It's not me. I was really saving myself for the bigger picture, which was NCP and actually doing a strain the right way. I'm about helping people. I believe it's a medicine... I want to have a brand that supports health and is not just recreational."
Rather than go into the business as an entrepreneur, Redman, his sister Sephida Artis-Mills and several others founded the National Cannabis Party in 2021. He describes it as the "bigger picture" God had in mind for him. "It's more for the purpose of this industry and not for the profit," Red says about the nascent party. "We've been ground-working, foot-working. Any business you start in life you have to do the foot-work. We're still foot-working. We started last January. Since then we grew tremendously. I mean really putting in the work to create awareness. At the end of the day, we're not trying to sell you anything. We're trying to let everyone be a part of the fabric and structure of this industry. The awareness I'm proud of... We're about making history."
Regarding Jay-Z, he's the owner of Monogram, a high-end cannabis brand based in Los Angeles. "Grown in small batches to maintain control and quality, each flower is hand-selected and hand-finished by MONOGRAM experts to provide the best possible experience," the website states. "Whether it’s just for you or for the group, the 4g jar offers twice the flower, twice the good smoke."
One online bio says, as a teenager Jay-Z "delved into drug-peddling and became involved in various clandestine street activities. He soon capitalized on his hustle and became a street rapper known as Jazzy in his [Brooklyn] neighborhood. He later modified the name to Jay-Z."
In 2019, Redman supported Jay-Z when his Roc Nation company partnered with the NFL. "I’m sure whatever he’s going to do with the NFL, he’s going to branch out and open more doors for other players and for us to get a better understanding of the NFL,” Red said then. “Jay-Z is smart. I don’t really know the details of why he’s doing it, but Jay-Z has never really made a bad move during his career, so I’m sure whatever he’s doing with the NFL right now will make sense in the end."
It would appear from Redman's remarks at the expo, Jay-Z's move into cannabis may not be his best.