Berner spring 14
Article and Photo by Dom Ellis
Today’s Congress is in a gridlock over marijuana laws. Half of them believe it will set the people free and will relieve ﬁscal hardships. The other half naively believes Mary Jane is an awful mind-rotting gateway drug. I met Berner in a smoke shop on hilly Haight Street in San Francisco (who would have guessed?). The native is renowned for his underground rap career and, of course, his green thumb.
He’s popularized the lethal strain called “girl scout cookies” that changed the weed and rap communities, making it a commodity to always possess or at least want the strongest marijuana possible. Some of Congress and other politicians believe marijuana eﬀects the cerebral cortex, responsible for memory, overall intelligence and drive, yet the 33-year old weed rapper showed up before his manager with Louis Vuitton luggage in hand; he just booked a ﬂight to Los Angeles.
Berner has never been a couch potato and has always been ready to go get it. “I just found a old W-2 from when I was 14,” he explained, “Yeah, I most deﬁnitely wasn’t supposed to be doing that. I’m a young hustla though.” He’s
always been ahead of his time and ready to act on his inhibitions, at 18 years old he ‘got it’ yet again.
“I’ve always been obsessed with weed, but right when I turned 18 I started running a cannabis club [at the same time I was bartending],” he said “…bartending and selling weed was the life.” Not only is he an intelligent and
driven weed rapper–contrary to what today’s politicians may think–he’s a bit existential. He’s gained valuable tools that many seek and uses them to be creatively proliﬁc through his music and in business. “You just got to do it, bro,” he said. “You’re going to have to invest money into yourself. You can’t rely on anyone else and once you realize that you got to be ready to go.”
We talked about his latest release, Drugstore Cowboy, against the vaporizer wall in the shop, the tape has racked up a hundred thousand downloads on the self-acclaimed mixtape authority site Datpiﬀ and is also moving units on iTunes. The 19-track project explores the stoner’s illustrious lifestyle ﬁlled with drugs, fast cars and women coupled with spacey beats and old school samples, a style that is in competition with a heavy cadence
and “turn up “ mentality of the current market.
“Drugstore Cowboy was a test for me to do what I want to do,” he said. “At the time my label didn’t really agree with the type of sound it was and didn’t understand that that’s my lane. I ended up doing it and it worked and I think now everyone agrees that I know what my fans want to hear. I know my audience.”
Some also believe that weed is an anti-social drug, yet as we stood store front watching patrons roam the many stores people couldn’t help but say “What’s up Bern.” He’s created a network of relationships through the banned substance that seems to help connect the dots and expand his reach. “It’s how I met Chris Brown, Wiz, Rick Ross,” he explained. “Weed is a way for everyone to bond that may have nothing in common. It brings people together and that’s the beauty of it.”
“I’ve been told I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things,” he said. “They said I wouldn’t make it in music, clothing, water, I have a marketing company and I make more than a lot of these marketing companies. Dawg I never went to high school or college. I don’t know shit about marketing! I know how to make sure people can see it, identify it and know where to get it.”
The proprietor of the dank strains Snowman and Sherbert, Berner is more than a weed rapping legend. He is an entrepreneur that goes with his gut and intuition. I watched him manage mainstream success after signing with Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang–juggling clothing companies, marketing, and Hemp2o – yet he can’t help but talk about more pop-up shops, store ideas, clothing and concerts with the shop owners as if he doesn’t already have a lot on his plate. He took a toke from his joint, as he took a snapchat of bubbles ﬁlling the air from a makeshift bubble blower set up on the corner by a band of street dwellers, he shared a few laughs with friends, everyone around him exuded conﬁdence–feeding oﬀ of his positivity–I couldn’t help but ask myself ‘Is THIS what congressmen and politicians are really afraid of, a person unafraid to trust his gut that can balance it all the while high?