Jay Z, who infamously started out dealing crack and drugs in Brooklyn’s notorious Marcy Projects before becoming a successful rapper and entrepreneur, has entered into a long-term partnership with Caliva, one of the largest, vertically integrated cannabis companies in California.
According to a release, the mogul, whose real name is Shawn Corey Carter, spent “a significant amount of time surveying the market for a like-minded collaborator in the cannabis space” before choosing Caliva as a prime partner.
As Chief Brand Strategist for the company, Jay Z will play “a crucial role driving creative direction, outreach efforts and strategy for the brand,” while focusing on increasing the economic participation of citizens returning from incarceration — through advocacy, job training, and overall employee and workforce development.
Commenting on the partnership, Jay Z said, “Anything I do, I want to do correctly and at the highest level. With all the potential in the cannabis industry, Caliva’s expertise and ethos makes them the best partner for this endeavor. We want to create something amazing, have fun in the process, do good and bring people along the way.”
Despite California’s cannabis economy shrinking by 17% year over year in the wake of expanding regulations, Caliva grew its revenues by 350%, employing over 600 workers.
“For Jay-Z to seek out Caliva as a partner is humbling and confirms our mission of being the most trusted name in cannabis,” said President/CEO Dennis O’Malley. “To find that we were in complete alignment around our values and ethos was just a home run. We believe this partnership is unparalleled in this or any business and we could not be more pleased to be working with him and have him as our Chief Brand Strategist. Look for some great things ahead!”
It is no surprise Jay Z is focusing on criminal justice reform in his initial foray into the cannabis business. He was the executive producer of a docuseries on Kalief Browder, the teen who committed suicide after spending three years on Rikers Island while awaiting trial for stealing a backpack, and his efforts on behalf of Meek Mill and others who are victims of unfair sentencing. After Mills’ release, he and Jay Z teamed up on a new foundation, the Reform Alliance, to reform the criminal justice system.
Other musicians who have teamed up with the cannabis industry for their own brands include Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, the late Bob Marley, Melissa Etheridge, Wiz Khalifa, 2 Chainz, Freddie Gibbs, Juicy Jay, The Game, Ghostface Killah and System of a Down bassist Shavo Odadjian. Cypress Hill’s noted hemp enthusiast B-Real opened a dispensary, Dr. Greenthumb, in Sylmar, CA, last year, while Kiss’ Gene Simmons, although a longtime advocate of sobriety, was recently named a Brand Ambassador for Canadian cannabis company Invictus, claiming he has changed his views on the plant.