Cash Only’s 420 Recs: Noah Rubin, Author of ‘How We Roll: The Art and Culture of Joints, Blunts, and Spliffs’

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Noah Rubin is pretty much the big brother I never had. A little over five years ago, he hired me as an editor at Merry Jane. We quickly discovered that we were coincidentally from the same rural town in Massachusetts, as well as some of the only jews hailing from the small community. We went to the same college (though at different times; Noah is 13 years my senior), we both cut our teeth professionally at record labels and print magazines, and—most importantly—we both really like weed. Yes, it was kush kismet that the guy became one of my closest pals and regular collaborators.

While Noah and I have both moved on from Merry Jane, he’s kept his THC ties fully ablaze and just dropped a marijuana magnum opus. His book How We Roll: The Art and Culture of Joints, Blunts, and Spliffs, out now via Chronicle Books, is required reading for seasoned tokers and the cannabis curious alike. It may very well be the first in-depth text that explores one of the most foundational aspects of weed culture (CONSUMPTION methods!), and it elegantly mixes tutorials and history alongside interviews, epic stories from iconic smokers like Snoop and Tommy Chong, do’s and don’ts, illustrated guides, and much, much more.

I’m proud of my boy, and not surprised that the text is flying off shelves and making waves in the world of printed matter. Noah is also promoting How We Roll in a nuanced way by offering rolling tutorials at music festivals across the country, on top of pop-ups and activations at weed-friendly establishments that aren’t distinctly plant-touching. Places like Morgenstern’s Ice Cream in New York, where he’ll be celebrating the book on November 4th, 5th, and 6th in an event co-presented by WeedFeed. Come say hey and smoke one if you’re in town!

To ring in this milestone for my bud, we thought it was time to give Noah the Cash Only treatment—and man did he come correct. Below, we discuss squirreling homegrown weed from Cantor Bob, some of the more exotic locales where Noah has sparked one up, and why it’s time to finally get Joe Biden high.

Much love and big ups, Noah! See you at the trippy tree.

Courtesy of Chronicle Books

What was your first time smoking weed like? Were you in Sherborn, our hometown?

Noah Rubin: So it’s funny that you ask about Sherborn, because that’s definitely where my first memories of smoking weed are from. As you know, being a Jew in semi-rural Massachusetts is a bit of a rarity, but one of my best friend’s growing up, Ori, and her family were deeply involved in the Jewish community out there. Her father Bob was actually a cantor in the temple a few towns away. For the uninitiated, a cantor is almost on the level of the rabbi; he sings all the prayers in the temple etcetera. So I would go to their house for sabbath dinner on occasion and we would notice that after knocking out the prayers, Cantor Bob would disappear for a bit. He’d come back with bloodshot eyes, smelling kind of funny, and in an extra good mood. As we got older, we started to put one and one together, and realized that Cantor Bob was actually a stoner on the low. 

Once we realized that, we started sniffing around until one day Ori came to school and let us know that she was in her mom’s garden and noticed that there was a plant that looked an awful lot like a weed plant. That, of course, got us plotting how we could get some. We sort of started whispering about that, and I think the parents overheard us. Before we knew it, the plant disappeared from the garden. 

It was a smart defensive move on the adults’ part, but it tipped us off that Cantor Bob had harvested it and stashed it somewhere in the house. It didn’t take Ori too long to figure out where the stash was—and that became the first time we had access to a steady supply of weed. 

And the weed was honestly amazing. Cantor Bob also brewed his own beer at that time, which was always fermenting in the basement and there was more of it than he could drink. Needless to say, my parents were wondering why I was so interested in going over to their house for sabbath dinner all the time. Even though Ori’s mom was an incredible chef, it definitely was Cantor Bob’s beer and bud combo that kept us coming back for more. We’d eat an amazing dinner, then steal our party favors and chill on the couch on the second floor of their garage. I remember those as some sacred evenings on multiple levels.

Photo by Zach Sokol

Your book opens with a great anecdote about scoring nug in mainland China. What are some other foreign locales you’ve lit one up in? Any memorable weed/travel stories that didn’t make it into the book?

Definitely. My parents were actually quite chill when I was a kid, so I didn’t have a lot of rules. So when I asked if I could go on a solo trip to Europe at the age of 15 with a friend of mine who was a couple years older, they said yes without much hesitation. And you’ve got to remember this was before cell phones or anything, so they were basically letting me go to Europe alone for three weeks at the age of 15 with the understanding that they weren’t going to hear from me for that entire time. 

Of course, me and my buddy Geoff who I went with immediately routed the trip through Amsterdam. We got there after a couple days in Germany and the first thing we did was hit up a coffee shop where it was a weed cornucopia like nothing I had ever seen. I remember we bought this really amazing black Nepalese hash and proceeded to roll it up in a spliff and get really blazed. I think we also bought some “space cakes,” which was more than we should have taken all at once. The next thing I remember, I was sitting cross-legged on the floor in the Salvador Dali Museum, looking at a painting from like six inches away. I was so high off my ass that I literally didn’t know where I was. 

Fortunately, after a couple hours, I got my head straight and had something to eat and we started drinking beers in the red light district. I spent the rest of the night chit-chatting with ladies of the night, probably annoying them as a weird 15-year-old kid who had never really experienced anything before.

While working on How We Roll, did you discover anything surprising about your own relationship with weed? For example, did you realize you were better or more knowledgeable about X than you previously thought? Did you find any gaps in your cannabis education or consumption skill sets that you had to bone up on?

Working on How We Roll definitely reminded me of all the amazing people in my life that I have smoked weed with from around the world. I never even thought about that before, but all of these relationships that I’ve had for many years and cherished had some component of smoking weed as a recurring theme. I was really happy that the book pushed me to examine that part of my own personal relationships, as well as just read up on as much material as I could find about rolling and weed history. 

Not only did I brush up my general knowledge, I also had to roll a ton of joints. I forced myself to roll every joint I wrote about in the book until it was really good. That gave me a good basic vocabulary of different things to roll and I am pretty grateful for that in hindsight.

Photo by Zach Sokol

Do you have a favorite quote, tip, or particular illustration from the book? 

I would just say overall that I’m super happy with how the illustrations came out. I’m extremely grateful to my illustrator Tasia Prince for hitting such a home run with the artwork. Tasia and I go back as collaborators to when she was an intern at Mass Appeal and I was editor-in-chief of the mag over there. She would always show me these dope little drawings she was working on and I was always impressed. Now she’s a big-time tech executive, but her art skills are super on point, so collaborating with her on this project was an extension of this relationship that has meant a lot to me over the years. 

In terms of my favorite quote, I think that the story that Tommy Chong told about being in the room with a stinky ass joint alongside John Lennon and Rod Stewart still slaps, even though I’ve heard it several times before. And speaking of quotes, I got to say I’m really appreciative to the Anthony Bourdain estate for letting me clear his iconic quote about wiping your ass and omelettes and the importance of rolling a joint—shout out to my boy Nick Morgenstern for connecting the dots on that one.

If you could get the book into any living person’s hands, who would you want to read it? 

I guess now that President Biden is trying to be down with the weed, I think someone on his team should put him on to my book so he can get a basic grasp of where a lot of this shit comes from and the culture behind it. If anyone out there can make it happen, please holler at me.

Photo by Zach Sokol

Do you have a current favorite weed strain? How do you like to consume it? (Bong, joint, etc.) 

My old friend Luca at Biscotti just hit me with his line of flower, and it’s pretty fire. Even though Biscotti really made a name for themselves with premium hash, they’re definitely coming correct with this new product. I smoked the Sugar Biscuits strain the other night in a big fat joint then crushed some Thai food at Ruen Pair in L.A. I gotta say it was an amazing combo.

Also, just for the record, even though I’m the guy that just wrote a book about joints, I am a big fan of bongs in general, as well. I always keep my handy bong, Mr. Pink, on deck when I need a late night rip. 

Do you have any favorite weed products—any particular papers, grinders, or whatever?

The beautiful thing about being a California resident is that we have a lot of amazing product innovations here… like shit I would never have dreamed of as a young weed smoker. One product I want to shout out in particular is the Pure Beauty “menthol cannabis cigarettes.” Definitely not a product for the purists out there, but an amazing overall experience for someone like myself who wants to have a menthol ciggy on the low once in a while. Definitely scratches that itch like none other. I also want to give a shout-out to Krush grinders cause I think they make a really beautifully-engineered product. And then in the world of edibles, I think Harmony’s Malus infused cider is top notch. Super dry and delicious with a good THC kick.

Photo by Zach Sokol

 Lately, what activity do you like to do after you’ve gotten stoned? 

I’ve been a big fan of smoking weed and doing outdoor activities for a long time. Back in the day, I would roll with a crew of folks all over New York City on our bikes. We would pick destinations 10 or 15 miles from Manhattan and ride out there and smoke a few big blunts and then find something amazing to eat, like L&B Spumoni Gardens. That kind of defined an era for me and we had a lot of great times together. Now that I’m in L.A., if I have the opportunity to smoke a joint and go hiking in Griffith Park or basically anywhere else, I will definitely do that.

Can you recommend something to watch while baked? 

Since you’re a cat guy, I’m guessing you might be up on this video game called Stray—it’s a super chill and interesting video game. Basically Stray imagines a post-apocalyptic world in which you’re a cat adventuring through an abandoned city. The music is amazing and even though there are some hectic moments in the game, it’s a super zen and exploratory experience overall. I highly recommend checking it out.

Photo by Zach Sokol

Currently, what do you like to listen to after smoking?

The Jamaican artist Protoje just dropped his new album called Third Time’s the Charm. It’s a great example of an artist taking classic roots ideas and updating them in an interesting way, while still staying true to a core reggae aesthetic. 

Also gotta give some props to my man Ev Bird who just dropped his debut EP Puff Piece on Royal Mountain Records. He’s a young indie artist with a genius instinct for writing chill tunes. I connected him with Boldy James for a song called “The Ring,” which has been doing well. Definitely check that one out, too.

Can you recommend something to read after smoking besides your own book?

Sex Magazine, duh.

Photo by Zach Sokol

Who’s in your dream blunt rotation? Dead or alive.

I honestly feel so blessed by the amazing people I have had the opportunity to smoke weed with. It’s kind of crazy when I think about it. In terms of people I haven’t smoked with that might be in my dream rotation, I guess I got to go back to politics, cause I think it’s time we get Joe Biden high. And maybe let’s invite Obama, ‘cause I bet he’s got some solid rolling skills. And I’m even down to get some maverick Republicans in the rotation, too. We all gotta start smoking weed together cause this is an amazing country that needs to do more in leading the world to be a better place than it is right now.

You’ve been doing some nuanced promotion for the book release, including events and classes you’re teaching at music festivals, as well as pop-ups at stores that have nothing to do with weed. Can you tell me about this approach to getting the word out and what else is on the horizon?

I like bringing some of the message to people in non-conventional ways—food, music, and art are things that I’ve always closely associated with my love of weed.

On that note, I’m looking forward to the upcoming How We Roll event with Morgenstern‘s Ice Cream in NYC, in collaboration with WeedFeed. It’s going to be a three-day event—November 4th, 5th, and 6th—celebrating rolling culture alongside one of my favorite things besides weed: ice cream. Nick Morgenstern, the brains behind the operation, collaborated with me to develop an incredible variety of sundaes that people will be able to experience. It’s a whole different way to help bring to life some of the regional vibes that I explore in my book.

Photo by Zach Sokol

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The post Cash Only’s 420 Recs: Noah Rubin, Author of ‘How We Roll: The Art and Culture of Joints, Blunts, and Spliffs’ appeared first on High Times.

Jamaican Reggae Artist Protoje Creates an Energetic Feedback Loop Through Music

Oje Ken Ollivierre—the Jamaican artist known professionally as Protoje—is a thoughtful, contemplative individual—a thinker, if you will, who is consciously aware of his role as a creator and his responsibility as a creator to share what’s most authentic to him with the rest of the world.

Born into a family of music-minded parents, music started as a hobby for Protoje and eventually took form as a career once he made the conscious decision to go all-in and dedicate himself to his craft. His latest album Third Time’s A Charm acts as a culminating expression of his life experiences and feelings that have brought him through to the present moment.

When we connect over Zoom, Protoje is in a happy, expressive mood—having just taken a quick puff—and from a free and open mindset begins to share his journey through music, his relationship with cannabis, how he channels a higher power for his music’s creation, and how that higher power gives life to further music creation, performance, and sustenance.

High Times: Growing up in a musical family with both parents being musicians, was music always the path for you growing up in that environment?

Protoje: I really wanted to be an athlete first. I wanted to be a long distance runner and was obsessed with basketball in my teens. I always loved music and was involved in it, but it was like a hobby to me.

A little bit before I left high school I started to realize that the idea of getting a job or working somewhere was not sitting well. Not realizing the work it would take to be an artist, I thought maybe I could become one. Everyone was telling me how good I was and I could see how they were reacting [to my music]. So I declared that I was going to be an artist and that was what I was going to do [for “work”].

What was it about the artistic lifestyle that you realized was different from running, different from having a nine-to-five—what was it that really captivated your spirit?

To be honest, it was people’s reactions to hearing me DJ or doing other stuff. I just thought it would be a good way for me to express myself. I think where I felt most natural and felt most happy and content was writing music and singing it to my friends. I would get very excited and it’s what brought me joy.

So there’s a fulfillment element then that being on stage and expressing yourself provides, perhaps in a way that other occupations may not.

I think so. As simple as it is, I just didn’t want to have to report to anyone. I grew up with parents who always helped me feel very free. They had such busy schedules that they just kind of let me set my schedule, so it was very hard for me to adjust to operating on someone else’s clock. Doing so takes away my joy, so I knew that while I wanted to pursue music, I’d also have to do it under my own label. I just really didn’t want to have to report to someone, so I built my entire creative process around that.

When expressing yourself through music, is there a mission that you’re trying to fulfill or is it just an expression of yourself and music happens to be the tool to do that through?

I’ve found that the most honest way to approach music is to speak about experiences and the meaning that I derive from the way that I see things. That to me is me being my most honest self, and doing that is the most important thing for me musically.

So I may feel some way about something and I think the feeling is valid. After sitting with that feeling, I express it. A year later, I may be going through something else, but once it is valid and honest in me, I express it.

The overarching theme is to appreciate—to live in the moment of gratitude—to make use of the time that you have as best as you can. That’s really what I try to do as an individual. Because of that, that’s what my music tends to focus on.

When I listen to my music—look, I have to sing these songs everyday. I’m the only person who has to sing these songs one thousand times. I’m hearing myself sing this stuff all the time. So [the songs] need to be something that resonates with me and that I one hundred percent believe in. That they’re authentic from me. Otherwise, I’m going to hear it and I’m going to cringe.

The other day I had a show that was really hard to get up for energy-wise. I was tired, everyone was tired. I started the show singing “Deliverance” and said “Choosing how I spend my time is completely by design / They don’t even see the trying / All they see is dollar sign / All I make is sacrifice.” I was listening to those lyrics and I got an energy [that woke me up]. And this is why I [create] this way because it helps power the whole thing. Lyrics help power the whole thing of me being an artist.

So it’s almost like a really cool feedback loop. You’re channeling from a higher power, that channeling then leads to the creation of the music, and then the music gives you the energy you need to perform the music.

It’s like if you plant some lettuce yourself and you grow it and it comes up. You take it, and you wash it off, then you cook it, and you bring it out to the table for dinner. You break off a leaf of it and you taste the lettuce. You’re reminded of when you planted it and you get to experience it one more time and it’s a loop. It’s just like that, that’s [how making music] feels to me.

Photo by Yannick Reid

Was there a moment after deciding to focus on music where you realized the path could be both the vehicle to express yourself and provide you with sustenance?

I committed to music very early but it was very hard to get traction. I think when my first single “Arguments” came out and it came out and did well, I was like, “Wow, I’m an artist.” People were starting to recognize that I made music. I knew I had the skills and I knew I had the talent but my main problem was that I thought it was owed to me because I was so talented. I was like, “I’m talented, so why isn’t this person recording me? Why am I not getting the respect?”

Once I realized that nobody owed me anything and that talent alone had nothing to do with it—sure, I’m talented, but many people are talented—I began to realize I needed determination and discipline, and after that, everything started to happen fast.

Once you realized you weren’t owed anything, what was the shift in your actions that led to success?

The shift was immediate. I was at a friend’s playing video games and I went outside and started to smoke. Anxiety came over me like I’d never felt before. I didn’t understand. I knew I wanted to be an artist, I had a song that I was recording, but I was hanging out playing video games with friends during the day. I could tell you how many points Kobe had in the game the night before. But what was I doing every single day [to achieve my goals] apart from writing some songs at night? What else am I doing?

So I stopped everything that day. I got rid of my PlayStation, I stopped watching TV, I stopped everything else I was doing and I just started doing music all of the time. I started to bring my song to every radio station and go to every live event that they had where it was possible for me to get in front of people. Every day, everything I started doing was centered around “how is this helping me get closer to my goals?” I did that for a little and then everything started to happen when I stopped doing everything else. It was wild.

You went all-in and took the action of consistently showing up for yourself. And it sounds like, from that place, good things happened.

G, I’m telling you. In life, I’ve never seen it not work to really just narrow in on exactly what you’re trying to do and work towards it every day. I don’t see how that’s possible to not get closer to your goal if you work towards it every day. Once I realized that, everything changed.

That’s why I tell artists that I work with, “You want this and you want that, but have you done today to get there?”

From that day [of my realization] to now, no matter what it is that I’m doing, every day I do something that is helping me get towards where I am trying to go.

And you’ve had the positive feedback from the universe to validate that way of living.

I know that if I stay up another hour and send out another hundred emails today instead of tomorrow, I’m twenty-four hours closer to getting where I’m trying to go. That’s how I operate.

How do you protect your energy from getting burnt out?

The people around me will joke that I have an obsession or that I need to get hobbies, but I think it’s a balance. I have my family and my daughter, who give me a lot of relief. My family knows that I work really hard because I’m trying to do as much as I can do in as short a time as I can because I don’t want to be out here doing this forever.

I can spend five hours working feverishly on my craft today and then I have ten hours extra that I can use to go to the beach, I can hangout with my daughter, the whole family can chill and watch a movie or whatever—but the thing is, when I’m doing these things, the way my mind works is that these are all life experiences that are going into the process of me thinking. In turn, this leads to my music. You understand? It’s not focusing on being in the studio all of the time or recording all of the time, because that will burn you out. It’s living, experiencing, feeling.

Movies are a big thing for me and my writing because movies really make me feel. To someone else, watching a movie is time off—which it is for me, too—but at the same time, my mind is working and I’m getting ideas. So I’ve found a way to use it all as creativity.

Photo by Yannick Reid

In terms of creativity, what’s the inspiration behind your new album Third Time’s The Charm and what do you hope people take from it?

The album is an extension from [the album] In Search of Lost Time. It picks up right where it left off. Everything was coming from things that I was going through and experiencing. As I said, I communicate best with the world by talking about the things I’m going through and people can relate to it in some way and get something from it for their lives, as opposed to being preachy. That’s something I’m not interested in—being preachy and telling people what’s right, how you should live your life. I’m about sharing my experiences as you would when you meet someone and you’re talking to them.

Think about it: If you meet someone and you’re speaking to them and they say, “Hey look, you should live like this, this is wrong, this is the way,” or whatever, you’re not going to be receptive to the ideas and concepts I’m coming with, right? It’s the same thing musically. I’m just making music and communicating and sharing my thoughts and ideas. Maybe you connect with it, maybe it makes you come up with your own great idea.

I love this album, I really connect with it on a personal level. I love the words that are being said, I love the sounds that are playing behind the words. I love the way the album is mixed, I love the art. The visuals are possibly my most favorite that I’ve ever done. Everything is precisely how I want it to be and that’s what matters to me the most, knowing I’ve done exactly what I’ve wanted to do. However that’s perceived is up to people, and whatever that is, I’ll definitely be able to accept it.

It sounds like you’re consciously making art for yourself which enriches your life, and there’s an awareness of the power it has to also potentially enrich the lives of many others.

I like to think about van Gogh back in the day with an open canvas and him listening to his mind saying “Make this stroke with the brush here, use this color there.” I’d like to think he wasn’t there thinking “I wonder if someone is going to like this color here,” or “I wonder if people are going to like the way I do the grass here.” I don’t think that’s what people are doing when they’re making art. You have a picture in your head and you’re trying to put it as good as you can on the canvas. I feel like I’m hearing the songs in my head and all I’m trying to do is get it as close to how it sounds and looks in my head. When I really break it down to that, it takes away all of the pressure from making art. It helps you as an artist to not be anxious and feel like a hostage.

How does cannabis help you with this kind of creative process?

I have a very interesting relationship with marijuana. Sometimes, it gives me feelings that I’m not too comfortable with. Sometimes it makes me very anxious. Sometimes it makes me doubt myself. Sometimes it makes me question a lot of things. There’s lots of different reactions that I get from it depending on what I’m going through and how I’m feeling within myself.

When I smoke it causes me to overthink a lot and overanalyze. When I’m going through it, I feel anxious, but when I come out of it, I usually find something positive from the experience that I was having. So I’ve even learned to even accept the anxiety at times when it comes.

When I’m creating music—especially when I’m producing or recording another artist—and I’m smoking, it makes me able to spend as much time as needed without losing my focus. When I’m writing, marijuana will help me to be locked in and not be as easily distracted with outside elements. So creatively, I do think it helps me a lot, but I try to make sure that I’m not high all the time either because my conscious brain without being on marijuana is also such an effective thing and it brings its own qualities. It’s about finding the balance as with everything.

Follow @protoje and check out for tickets, tour dates, and his latest album Third Time’s The Charm.

The post Jamaican Reggae Artist Protoje Creates an Energetic Feedback Loop Through Music appeared first on High Times.

Yaadcore is Ready for His Spotlight Now

As a DJ, Yaadcore helped break acts like Chronixx and Protoje, ushering in the conscious, reggae revival movement that swept Jamaica over the last decade. These days, he’s focused on making his own tunes, dropping postmodern island bangers like “Ready Now” and “The Calling” through his 12 Yaad label and California’s Delicious Vinyl Island.

With his debut album, Reggae Land, primed for a January 2022 release, his transformation from DJ to artist is set to be complete. 

No matter which musical cap Yaadcore is wearing, advocating for the herb is a part of his DNA. Whether blazing chalice in the DJ booth, reviewing strains for Jamaican dispensary Itopia Life, or remaking John Holt’s classic ganja farmer anthem “Police in Helicopter” (alongside Jah9 and Subatomic Sound), he’s one of Jamaica’s most visible and authentic ambassadors for the lifestyle. This is Jamaica we’re talking about, so that’s really saying something. 

Originally released in 2020, Yaadcore’s “Nyquill” draws on reggae’s holy history of marijuana protest tunes to highlight cannabis’ medicinal properties, and the ways Babylon continues to fight the plant even as dispensaries proliferate from Kingston to MoBay. A new remix of the track, re-branded with the additional title “Spliff A Light Spliff,” is out today featuring reggae legend Richie Spice, and we’ve got an exclusive premiere of the video right here. 

High Times spoke to Yaadcore about “Nyquill,” making the transition from DJ to artist, and the ways legalization has and hasn’t changed Jamaica’s celebrated ganja business. 

What was the inspiration for “Nyquill”?

Really and truly, this is what the riddim spoke to me. Most times, songs just come to me. [Reggae artist] Micah Shemiah had [an instrumental] riddim called Lion of Judah he was gonna voice up a few more songs on, and I said I wanna try something on it. There is the popular Big Pharma brand, NyQuil, and I used that to show that marijuana is our medication and compare the medicinal values that marijuana has. 

Why did you add “Spliff A Light Spliff” to the title?

“Spliff A Light Spliff” was already a part of the hook. Being that we are remixing the song with a herbalist legend, Richie Spice, I emphasized the chorus more. After the original dropped, I did a “Spliff a Light Spliff” strain review series on YouTube with Itopia Life, a dispensary here in Kingston, which we want to continue. 

You’ve got “Spliff a Light Spliff” merch drops with Diamond Supply Co. and Blazy Susan, two American companies. Do you see yourself becoming a global spokesman for Jamaican ganja?

Jamaica has a big reputation where marijuana is concerned… for having the best. That goes along with reggae music [being] an avenue for advocating for marijuana to be free. With these collaborations, we see where we can cross market to different people who are not as familiar with reggae culture but share the same sentiment when it comes to the advocacy of marijuana.

I am definitely a voice advocating not only for Brand Jamaica where herb is concerned, but a global voice, you know. As [I say] in the song, “Babylon should never wah lock up anyone for just a little draw.” There are still people around the world faced with jail time just because [of] a little spliff. 

In 2015, the Jamaican government significantly amended its cannabis laws. How have attitudes towards ganja in Jamaica changed since then?

Before 2015, there was more tension between police and smokers. [Now] you can smoke freely without thinking about getting arrested. That is a big improvement we have to give thanks for. [At] the same time, farmers are still faced with high licensing fees.

Small farmers are not able to gather the right documents to be a part of this industry, and they are faced with penalties if they continue to grow. They don’t really get to benefit after how many years of maintaining the industry, and being oppressed for it. People with criminal records just for possession of marijuana are still faced with their criminal charges affecting their status in society. 

Photo Credit: Tizzy Tokyo 

Talk about why you set the “Nyquill (Spliff A Light Spliff)” video in a greenhouse.

A typical ganja video is in a ganja field, breeze blowing. I always want to be different. It was my intention to showcase the level of farming that has developed in Jamaica. I was scouting different farms for the video, and when Blaine from Itopia Life sent me a pic of his farm, the setup was very impressive for Jamaica. [The choice of location] was aesthetic and political.

Growers in Jamaica have always done their own thing and left well enough alone, and it’s served their reputation well. How is the island beginning to embrace the technological advances that have revolutionized the industry overseas?

America is blessed with a lot of resources. Scientists and farmers are way more educated in a technological sense. Whereas a Jamaican farmer, being we are a country of nature, we more deal with that kind of farming. As technology develops in farming all over, not just in marijuana, dem start use techniques to identify what strain is in each herb, and modify the seeds to be more specific as far as strain is concerned.

Since the whole legalization in Jamaica now, naturally we see some development in how we plant the herb. Naturally, we’re learning from what we see abroad as well as applying our own Jamaican knowledge. A farmer from California may come to Jamaica and not be able to plant the same crop as he could in California. You have to get used to the different climate and humidity, [whether] you’re growing outdoors or in a greenhouse.

How we now start to develop our thing is by importing seeds and learning to crossbreed different strains. The mere fact that it has become legal now, people can experiment more freely in the industry.

You were a DJ for a long time, touring with Protoje, making mixtapes, and platforming the reggae revival with your event, Dubwise Jamaica. How did your journey to becoming an artist begin?

There is a style in reggae where they play the song and then the [instrumental] riddim version. I remember one night, I was DJing in Bergamo, Italy, with Protoje, and I played a song, and the riddim as well, and people were saying, “Sing a song, sing a song!” I was really unable at that time.

I wanted to be able to toast as well when playing a rhythm live, so that was my first inspiration to become an artist. Then I discovered Mikey Dread. I knew of him already, but he resonated in my mind after that. He was the first DJ to have a reggae radio show in Jamaica; he was a producer and an artist as well. I saw that I don’t have to limit myself. 

“Ready Now” was the first song I put out. That song was not planned. It was mystical. A producer sent me the riddim to co-produce, and probably voice some other artist. It was playing one day at the studio and man dem said, Ready Now—they were ready to start—and immediately mi start sing, “Say mi Ready Now…” I wrote the hook in five minutes and, a couple months after, I released it.

That’s how the journey started. It was the third song I ever wrote, but I released it first, to send a statement that I’m ready now. I was already sure of what I wanted to do by that time. 

Photo Credit: Tizzy Tokyo

How does the herb unleash your creativity?

It unleashes creativity by making me feel relaxed. Once the nerves are relaxed, you are able to channel what the mind is really focused on. 

What are you looking forward to sharing with your debut album?

Mi want people to see the energy mi have set out for the world, transitioning from a DJ to an artist. To make the people know it’s not a joke ting. I’m not really a DJ anymore. I have a whole heap of material to share with the world. 

How would you describe your music? There’s a lot of hip-hop influence. It’s definitely not your father’s reggae sound. 

There are some fusions in it, but the foundation of what mi a deal wid [is] reggae music. From you hear I and I ‘pon it, then you know it ah go bring Jamaican flavor.

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