This article was originally published by Natan Ponieman and Javier Hasse in Benzinga and appears here with permission.
Rapper B-Real's success story is a cannabis industry and movement favorite. The Cypress Hill frontman is a living example of how to leverage a high-profile public image to build a marijuana business.
For almost three decades, B-Real and the Cypress Hill crew have been regarded as some of the most iconic acts in the stoner rap scene. They have also become leading activists and advocates for the plant.
But taking a strong fanbase and turning it into a crowd of loyal customers was no easy task. B-Real, whose real name is Louis Mario Freese, spoke with Benzinga about his many hits in both the music and cannabis scenes.
New Releases Coming
After a year that was extremely challenging for the entire world, B-Real is optimistic about 2021.
The artist anticipates a number of new solo releases, an upcoming collaboration with Berner and a Cypress Hill 30-year anniversary release in August.
For his cannabis ventures, we can expect to see more Dr. Greenthumb's dispensaries open up around the country.
“We have two pending, one in San Diego and one in Tulsa. So we're looking forward to those things this year,” he said.
The Path To Cannabis Success: Quality, Consistency And Community Building
Creating a brand that would resonate with the cannabis space was the easy part. Cypress Hill’s 1998 hit single “Dr. Greenthumb” had already become one of the band’s most memorable tunes by the time a market started developing in the Golden State.
“Before it became rec down here in California, or anywhere else for that matter, we were already pumping the Dr.Greenthumb name," B-Real says. "So we had brand awareness.”
He then made sure that any product released by the Dr. Greenthumb brand was of top quality.
“My team and I, we've been cultivating for close to twenty seven years now," he says. "So, you know, we definitely had our feet and legs up under us to create something that would be impactful."
However, to become more than a “one hit wonder” in cannabis, quality is not enough. Being able to produce large amounts of consistent product was as important as the quality of the product itself.
“Volume and consistency are important along with the quality," B-Real adds. "If you can only produce so much and you have this demand — they'll go somewhere else if you can't meet it.”
Once those bases were laid down, it became all about building bridges with other industry members and the consumer base.
“After all the work and time and investment you put in, then it’s push forward and show up and build the relationship with the cannabis community in the corner stores and just the overall consumers,” he says.
For the entrepreneur, attending cannabis events and interacting with the fanbase is a key factor in the success of his cannabis brands. This is important not only to leverage his existing fanbase, but also to make his brands known to new consumers who might not be aware of him as a musician.
Berner Bond: Mutating Beyond Music
B-Real likens fellow rapper and cannabis entrepreneur Gilbert Milam (aka Berner) to a long-lost brother.
“We just have a great chemistry together,” B-Real assures. “When we work together, it's just a special connection. I don't think either of us thought we'd have it.”
Many times, artists try out collaborations, but the spark just isn’t there. It wasn’t like that with Berner.
“Once he proposed the idea and I said yes, we were on it immediately, and then it went from, you know, just doing a song to ‘hey, we sound pretty damn good together and work quite quickly and efficiently, we should do more’.”
That turned into an album and then another one, and then a few more. The duo is currently working on their fifth album together. But the alliance goes well beyond the music.
Berner has amassed an impressive cannabis career in his own right, as founder and CEO of the Cookies brand.
The duo continues to support each other’s brands through public “plugs.” The idea of a possible collaboration between Dr. Greenthumb and Cookies has come up many times during their conversations.
“Maybe doing genetic swaps and hybrid collapse and stuff like that. It's just about finding the time and the right genetics to cross with one another,” he says. “So, yeah, that's definitely a thought between him and I to make something like that happen.”
Thoughts Going Into The “Biden-Harris” Era
“Being that Harris comes from California and she is very familiar with the cannabis industry, I think there could be some positive changes,” says B-Real.
The rapper believes that if there’s someone in the current government that can speak for the positive changes that cannabis legalization can bring to society, it’s vice-president Harris.
“I don't know exactly what's going to happen, but, you know, God willing, the taxes on the cannabis industry at least come down a little bit. We know that all the other taxes are probably going to go up. But in the California cannabis industry, the taxes should come down. And that would be nice to see.”
For B-Real, having democrats in control would naturally mean an increase in taxation though.
“And to an industry that’s already overtaxed, it's kind of scary where it could go,” he says.
However, the presence of Kamala Harris may help alleviate that in order to provide a viable working ground for the cannabis industry as a whole, not just in California, concludes the entrepreneur.
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