Life has come full circle for rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z.
Back in the early days, Jay-Z was selling drugs outside a New York City housing project. This week, he was named Chief Brand Strategist at a cannabis company called Caliva.
Caliva is considered one of the biggest cannabis firms in California, and as Chief Brand Strategist Jay-Z will have “a crucial role driving creative direction, outreach efforts and strategy for the brand,” according to an announcement from the company.
Specifically, Jay-Z — whose given name is Shawn Corey Carter — will focus on helping individuals leaving the prison system. He will help them through job training and development, and through advocacy. That has become a major focal point for Jay-Z, who has also championed efforts to reform issues with lengthy parole restrictions, prohibitive bail structures, coerced confessions, and prison violence and sexual abuse. These problems disproportionately impact lower-income neighborhoods, with African-Americans heavily impacted.
Jay-Z issued a statement in regards to his new role with the company, which pointed to a lot of potential in the cannabis industry. But is this industry still booming?
During the past year, California’s cannabis industry has surprisingly shrunk by nearly 20%, at least in part due to an expansion of government regulations. But this downturn has not affected Caliva, whose revenues have grown by 350% over the course of the same period of time. The company also currently employs more than 600 people.
Some in the music industry are not surprised that Jay-Z’s first foray into cannabis is related to criminal justice reform. Just recently, Jay-Z served as the executive producer of a documentary series about Kalief Browder, who committed suicide at Rikers Island prison after spending 3 years while waiting to be tried for stealing a backpack.
Jay-Z is not first musician to partner with the cannabis industry. Others include:
- Snoop Dogg
- Willie Nelson
- Wiz Khalifa
- 2 Chainz
- Freddie Gibbs
- Juicy Jay
- The Game
- Ghostface Killah