Now Reading:Culture | Exclusive Interview: Vic Mensa Launches Chicago’s First Black Weed Brand ’93 Boyz,’ Gives Away $10K In Free Gas
Giving back is a way of life for Victor Kwesi Mensah. You might know him as Vic Mensa, the seasoned Chicago-based rapper, producer, MC, activist, and visual artist.
Chicago natives recently saw this first hand when the rapper gifted free gas to 200 cars. Literal gas and figurative gas too.
Over the Labor Day weekend, Mensa returned to his old stomping grounds at a BP station in the Southside of Chicago at 47th and Woodlawn Avenue. He donated a generous $10,000 to fill 200 cars with gas, and everyone was given a dank parting gift from Mensa too.
The donation was hosted by his new weed company, 93 Boyz, the first Black-owned and Black-led cannabis brand in Illinois. Stretching genres far and wide, the adventurous hip-hop artist recently announced his first endeavor in the legal cannabis industry.
93 Boys is an equity-focused cannabis brand. Its mission is to give back to the underserved and most-impacted communities while satisfying consumers’ needs with the headiest products in Illinois.
Cannabis aside, Mensa has been hard at work, gearing up to release his second full-length studio album, dropping this October on Roc Nation.
It’s one of the most self-reflective, personal, and meaningful projects to come from the Chicago-based rapper, one that tracks his journey moving from Los Angeles back home to Chi-Town.
The album is mainly produced by Grammy award-winning Nigerian producer Bongo ByTheWay and Mensa himself. Until the drop, we should expect a collection of singles through the fall with hot features from some of hip-hop’s best acts.
The upcoming album isn’t the only personal venture Mensa is bringing to the masses. His cannabis brand, 93 Boyz, is in partnership with the non-profit organization Books Before Bars.
The NPO works to provide books to Illinois prison libraries, ensuring that inmates have access to resources that could change their time in prison for the better.
Mensa isn’t just a cannabis advocate but an activist for the greater good. In 2018, the rapper founded a Black and Indigenous-led non-profit organization called SaveMoneySaveLife. The organization strives to empower people of color and create positive change within the arts.
Being Chicago’s first Black-owned and led cannabis brand, 93 Boyz is also dedicated to giving back to the communities most affected by the failed war on drugs.
In fact, only 2% of the cannabis industry comprises Black-owned and leading brands. For that reason, 93 Boyz strives to change the narrative around cannabis while shining a light on social equity initiatives and the highest quality weed.
“Selling weed was my first hustle. It taught me work ethic, entrepreneurship and funded all of my first music projects,” Mensa explains, adding that his experiences with anxiety and depression inspired him to help people with similar issues.
The brand’s mission is to reinvest in those communities and individuals while lifting them up with the headiest product in Illinois.
For more information about 93 Boyz, visit its website at 93boyz.com.
What inspired you to launch your cannabis brand, 93 Boyz? When did you start feeling a need to jump into the legal cannabis industry?
I was initially inspired to launch 93 Boyz by my recognition that my community needs to be involved in the legal cannabis industry. And as soon as the legislation in Illinois began to shift, I began to focus on entering the industry.
Would you say that your past days of selling weed helped prepare you for working in the legal cannabis space? Did you ever consider owning a brand back when you were dealing?
I would say that my history of selling weed has definitely prepared me for working in the legal cannabis space—in that I’ve been intentionally focused on product quality and customer service and the cultivation of a customer base as it pertains to cannabis since I was 15 years old. At those times, no, I don’t think that I ever considered owning a cannabis brand. Although the creation of brands and all the branding, in general, has always been a concern of mine, I don’t think I imagined that cannabis was going to be legal.
Shifting gears a bit, what is your preferred strain of choice when hitting the studio? Do you have a favorite strain or variety when making music?
My preferred strain when hitting the studio, I think classically, has been OG because Indicas just relax me. But more recently, I have started to experiment with a Sativa called “My Thai” when I would hit the studio because it gives you an ill-creative boost. My favorite strain when making music is OG, though.
What is your relationship with cannabis like? Why do you use the plant, and what makes you so passionate about it?
My relationship with cannabis goes back to age 11 and has existed in more of my life than not. I believe that for me the plant has primarily been a creative inspiration in my life. And I’m passionate about it because, as a person with a lifelong experience with anxiety and depression, I’m passionate about all holistic and natural approaches to those mental health concerns being that I have been through the wringer of the pharmaceutical industry, and I know that there’s no salvation there.
Why is giving back to the community so important for you? Was it your goal to ensure that 93 Boyz is as socially conscious as it is a reliable brand with the best products?
Giving back to the community is imperative for me as a man in general, as well as specifically with 93 Boyz, because I don’t think that I could reasonably or responsibly enter an industry that has made millions, billions of dollars off of a plant that has been used to incarcerate and decimate so many lives in our community. I mean, just in 2019, a man named Allen Russell was sentenced to life in prison for a cannabis conviction in Mississippi. In a world where people are still being sentenced to life in prison for something that’s making other people billions of dollars, stepping into this game, in my mind, has to be in part with a mission to cultivate freedom. And my goal with 93 Boyz has definitely been to make sure that not only is it a reliable brand with cutting-edge products and captivating aesthetics but also that it is socially minded and involved in creating opportunity and reinvesting into the communities most damaged by the war on drugs.
As Illinois’ first Black-owned and led weed brand, 93 Boyz has a lot to live up to. How do you plan on leading the way and setting an example for other Black-owned weed brands to come to Illinois?
As Illinois’ first black-owned weed brand, the responsibility is major…to be taking steps to impact the many ways that we’ve been exploited and damaged by the weaponization of cannabis by the state. I plan on connecting with other black-owned brands that are building and coming into the state and being born in the state to build power and collectivize power.
What’s next for you?
Next for me is the release of my second full-length album, my second full-length rap album that’s in the stages of competition now.
For more info, visit: 93boyz.com
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