300 Entertainment CEO/founder Kevin Liles is making a sizable investment in Vancouver-based cannabis lifestyle company Burb as it closes a $4 million Series A funding round led by Connecticut-based private equity group KarpReilly.
For Liles, the combination of cannabis and music is a natural fit. As a Def Jam executive, Liles’ bonafides go back to his professional relationship with Jay-Z, himself an investor in cannabis, and overseeing Method Man and Redman’s 2001 film debut, “How High,” and the duo’s short-lived 2004 Fox series, “Method and Red.” 300 Entertainment, which Liles cofounded in 2012 with music biz vets Lyor Cohen, Roger Gold and Todd Moscowitz, is home to Megan Thee Stallion, Young Thug and Ambar Lucid, among other acts.
Burb co-founder CEO John Kaye is a former musician, denim wholesaler and investment banker who launched a federally licensed cannabis testing lab before starting Burb as an e-commerce, street wear and media company, acquiring a pair of cannabis retail locations three years ago. The two met three years ago through Gunna, an artist on 300 who wore Burb during a live performance.
“We’ve found the right partners by supporting the culture, the music and just letting things come to us,” says Kaye.
Liles is putting his own money into the company, and will be largely hands-off about the product, allowing the cannabis growers to do their thing.
“[Burb and 300] are like-minded companies that share a culture,” says Liles of his investment. “What we bring to each other is more than just business., though I am a businessman. More importantly, I want to create a safe haven for those who love cannabis, for those artists who celebrate it. Our goal is to service the cannabis community, not necessarily draw attention to ourselves, combining the artistic, creative and business sides.”
Burb plans to use this latest cash infusion to increase its network of cannabis retail stores in British Columbia and to support the launch of its private label, branded cannabis products across Canada and into the U.S., starting in California. The funding round comes after the company signed consumer goods brand licensing agreements with Canadian cannabis producers Citizen Stash and California cannabis group Martin Holdings, founded by rap artist turned “pot-repreneur” Jason “Problem” Martin, a Compton, Calif. native whose previous claim to fame was a feature on E-40’s “Function” and writing a verse for a track on Snoop Dogg’s compilation album, “The Big Squeeze.”
Liles is also an advocate of Burb’s social justice agenda, including the effort to aid those unlawfully imprisoned for cannabis possession or legacy (pre-legalization) dealers.
“We have a responsibility to the culture,” says Liles. “This is about righting social historical wrongs across both the cannabis and the music business. Our two companies are on the side of equality.”
Burb co-founder/CEO John Kaye says the company will release its first two proprietary flower genetics into the California market at this week’s cannabis trade show, Hall of Flowers, starting today (Wednesday) in Santa Rosa.
Burb currently operates three licensed cannabis retail stores in Vancouver’s lower mainland and recently received its fourth cannabis retail license in the city of Vancouver. The company has a pipeline of BC-based stores under lease with licenses pending, in order to open and operate up to eight stores in the province. In addition to its cannabis business, Burb produces its own podcast “Light Culture,” hosted by Paper co-founder/editor-in-chief David Hershkovits.
Burb plans to continue exploring potential product and retail licensing opportunities across North America, though Liles insists the two “won’t just slap a brand or a logo on something,” calling them “curators… Not every product is Burb, just as not every artist is 300. John and I trust in one another’s moral fabric.”
Kaye cites Liles’ “knowledge of how to move authentically, not just jump on the latest trends” as what draw him to becoming a business partner. “He’s built three separate companies in Def Jam, Warners and now 300 Entertainment, where his independence resonates deeply with us. His network is second to none, and as a person, he’s hella creative and one of the hardest-working guys I know, which is inspiring to me.”
Liles, who mostly puffs on cigars rather than blunts these days, is feeling the sky is the limit for this newest venture. “I’m not into smoking anything that would slow me down from the pace I work,” he says, then touting his new-found joint venture. “In this case, one and one equals 10.”
His new partner Kaye agrees: “Music and cannabis is a match made in heaven.”