As we originally reported last summer, the ‘Business, man’ has set his sights on Cannabis. Starting today, those in California can buy weed directly from Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter through his direct to consumer platform www.monogramcompany.com
Jay-Z Has Entered The Market
In what was originally announced as a Chief Brand Strategist role, last July Jay-Z linked up with one of California’s largest cannabis producers, Caliva, in a partnership that promised to give those formerly incarcerated due to the War on Drugs an opportunity to get involved in the booming legal cannabis industry. While at the time many questioned his intentions, this was hardly a surprise coming from one of the biggest rappers on the planet, especially one with as much business acumen.
In October, the first bud from this new grow was announced. Dubbed MONOGRAM, the brand would mark Jay-Z’s first true entrance into the space, and was positioned as having “uncompromising quality” with a tailored, direct-to-consumer strategy made possible through a “best in class e-commerce platform dedicated exclusively to its singular product line”, according to the release. The news lacked mention of working with the previously disenfranchised, but did mention this was the first of what we imagine to be many releases coming from that camp.
In November, Caliva announced their agreement with The Parent Company (TPCO Holding Corp.) (OTCQX: SBVCF, NEO: SVC.A.U, SVC.WT.U), which will bring the newly formed corporation to the public markets. In the deal, Jay-Z’s title was repositioned to Chief Visionary Officer (which, admittedly, is much cooler), and the brand became a contender for the largest publicly traded cannabis company in California.
Today, the wait is over. While the suits wrap up the merger, MONOGRAM is finally available to the public. Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to get my hands on some samples to try (review below), but you can get yours right now at www.monogramcompany.com as well as through www.Caliva.com, and in-store at select Caliva locations across the state.
Initially launching with four proprietary strains, the line will bring raw flower, prerolls, and what seems to be billed as cannagars to market in its initial run. Designated ‘light’, ‘medium’, or ‘heavy’, and available in the unique 2 or 4 gram quantities, the flower is grown out of The Parent Company’s flagship growing facility in San Jose, California. According to the press release “each plant receives personalized attention from the company’s expert growers, who grade and select every flower by hand.”
In Mr. Carter’s own words, “Cannabis has been around for thousands of years, yet it is still an industry whose legacy of skilled craftsmanship is often overlooked.”
“I created MONOGRAM to give cannabis the respect it deserves by showcasing the tremendous hard work, time and care that go into crafting a superior smoke,” he continues. “MONOGRAM products are next level when it comes to quality and consistency and we’re just getting started.”
With strain names like No. 88, No. 96, No. 70 and No. 1, the brand immediately feels it’s the real thing. Reminiscent of the pheno hunters who focus so intently on each individual plant that they monitor by bean number and not the overall crop, Jay-Z has made sure to stay true to the culture and not focus on some clever name to sell his product, but instead craft products that are worth buying.
In that spirit, the products feel premium before you even open them up. From the clean, easy to open and reusable packaging, to the dark UV-resistant glass used, the containers are the types you’ll save to reuse, even if you’re refilling them with someone else’s product, which goes a long way in terms of getting the word out—even when you don’t have a name as notable as Jay-Z backing it. Further, the brand clearly understands the different situations in which their smoke could accentuate your situation, and have offered products that will speak to each environment. Their prerolls, dubbed ‘the Loosies’, are four packs of 0.4 gram mini joints which are ideal for communal—but personal—consumption, while their ‘OG Handroll’ is more akin to the king size cones we all know and love. However, the raw flower options show they are truly proud of their product—they’re not just hiding it behind paper or concentrating it into vape pens.
But How’s The Flower?
The early look I received had three of the four strains they’re launching, through each of the varietals offered. No. 1, No. 88, & No. 96—two of which (the OG Handroll and the flower) were classified as ‘medium’, while the loosies were classified as ‘heavy’.
The flower, labeled No. 1, was actually more impressive than I’ve become accustomed to with celebrity launches. While the nose was a lower volume than I was expecting, the buds did illustrate they had been cared for, with a delicate trim job and nugs that appeared fresh. The smoke was tastier than it’s scent let on, and it’s high was a more sativa leaning, stimulating buzz. It clocked in at 34% THC, so I’m not entirely sure what the heavy to light scale is really saying, but it’s worth restating that this was considered a ‘medium’.
The Loosies, labeled No. 96, were true to their ‘heavy’ title. While the buds didn’t dry pull or smell like gas off the top, the effects were certainly heavyweight. In fact, I’d go so far as to say those little 0.4’s hit like a full gram of some competitors strongest indicas. Testing at 25% THC, they describe this strain as having “fruity aromas and a sherbet-like flavor”, and while I didn’t get a look at the buds to cosign that statement, I’m happily on board for the last part which claims it provides a “deep high that flows through you and releases your mind.”
The OG Handroll, in the brand’s apparently signature No. 88, is meant to provide the brands flagship representation of the decades of experience of cultivation behind the MONOGRAM team. Measuring up at 30% THC, this ‘medium’ strain was a true hybrid. Designed to smoke like a premium cigar, the OG Handroll is less blunt than I was expecting, and more king size cone, but it truly feels like what you’d create if you broke this up yourself.
All in, I must say I’m impressed with Jay-Z’s entry into the market. Sure he’s got a billion dollar marketing machine behind him, but while most celebrities just white label some bullshit and put their name on it, it’s clear that their team took their time to perfect all the edges. While I won’t liken it to the loud ‘rapper weed’ that commands so much hype right now, this is clearly a premium product designed for those with a bit more experience, and a love of the culture.