Yesterday, San Jose based cannabis company Caliva announced that it has hired Jay-Z as a Chief Brand Strategist to help it penetrate California’s massive but ultra-competitive legal marijuana industry.
Caliva is a private company that operates a weed farm and has two retail outlets in Northern California. It also sells flower, pre-rolled joints, vaporizers, edibles and oils online and in 200 dispensaries across the state. Caliva has not published its revenues.
Retired NFL quarterback Joe Montana’s venture capital firm injected $75 million in Caliva earlier this year help it grow.
Jay-Z’s multiyear deal with Caliva consists of “driving creative direction, outreach efforts and strategy for the brand”.
Cannabis companies often sign deals with rappers to help build their brand (Snoop Dog, Wiz Khalifa, Baby Bash, Redman, Ty Dolla $ign etc.) Google their names + “smoking” – and you’ll find them on stage at an outdoor concert happily smoking a blunt.
Google Jay-Z’s name + “smoking” and you get an image of the Jay-Z on a red carpet next to his “Smoking Hot Wife” – pop star Beyoncé.
When you do find an image of Jay-Z smoking, he’s not on-stage smoking weed, he’s in a boardroom, smoking a cigar.
Jay-Z is a billionaire rapper, producer, entrepreneur, philanthropist with a sprawling empire that includes clothing retailer Rocawear, luxury sports bar chain 40/40 Club, an entertainment co. Roc Nation, tech company Aspiro, and a media streaming service Tidal.
Will Jay-Z’s track record as a salesman translate to the cannabis industry?
Jay-Z was born on December 4, 1969 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City and was raised in a housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
After the father walked out, Jay-Z and his three siblings were raised by their mother, Gloria Carter. To make some pocket-money, Jay-Z sold crack cocaine. At age 12, he shot his older brother in the shoulder for stealing his jewelry. Out on the mean streets hustling, Jay-Z was shot three times himself.
Jay-Z’s mother remembers that little Jay-Z used to wake up his siblings at night by drumming on the kitchen table. She bought him a boom box for his birthday, and he started “freestyling” and writing lyrics.
In October 2001, Jay-Z pleaded guilty to stabbing record producer Lance Rivera in a bar. For this 2nd-degree felony, Jay-Z was sentenced to three years probation.
In 2008, he married Beyoncé. Two years later, they were listed as Time Magazine’s Most Powerful Couple.
In his song “Feelin’ It”, Jay-Z hinted that he was drifting away from weed.
“I’m so confused, okay I’m getting weeded now
I know I contradicted myself, look, I don’t need that now
It’s just once in a blue when there’s nothing to do
And the tension gets too thick for my sober mind to cut through”
Some cannabis companies have partnered with celebrities more closely associated with weed, than Jay-Z.
Wiz Khalifa is a 31-year-old ex-military brat who lived in Germany, the U.K, and Japan before settling in Pittsburgh with his mother.
He released his debut album, Show and Prove, at the age of 19 The debut single for Atlantic, “Black and Yellow” peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Khalifa Kush is a hybrid that was bred specifically for the rap artist Wiz Khalifa,” confirms Leafly.com, “it has an active cerebral buzz ideal for morning and daytime use.”
Wiz’s strain has 572 reviews on Leafly – with a 4.7 average rating.
“Dear Khalifa Kush, I am writing this to inform you that I am stoned,” states Senatorbear. “Stoned in a happy way, a loving way. For some odd reason, this strain is my new Viagra.”
Chris Parry considers Kevin Smith “One of the top three best endorsement targets (for a cannabis company) in the world today.”
In recent years Jay-Z has tackled some valiant social causes, including working with the Criminal Justice Reform Organization to help U.S. convicts re-integrate with society.
This poignant video is entitled “Jay-Z’s War on Drugs”.
Dennis O’Malley, CEO of Caliva, told CNN that Jay-Z “will be involved in outreach programs — such as job training, advocacy and workforce development” – to help create more opportunities in the industry for people who were negatively affected by the War on Drugs.
Caliva’s interest in this issue appears to be genuine. The company has partnered with Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream to promote Clear My Record – an organization that helps criminals expunge non-violent marijuana convictions from their records.
Jay-Z has a solid track record making stuff and selling it at a profit to American consumers.
The phrase “American Consumer” is like the phrase “Tiger Meat-hunter”.
It identifies the subject while highlighting the primary skill-set.
Can Jay-Z help Caliva sell more weed?
This complicated brilliant dude can sell anything.
Full Disclosure: Supreme and Chemesis are Equity Guru marketing clients.