With cannabis use and cultivation becoming more mainstream, both legally and culturally, it’s no surprise that more artists and musicians are joining the industry. One of the latest rappers to venture into the business side of cannabis as an entrepreneur is Dave East, the Harlem-based rapper and actor, who has launched his cannabis company, East Co.
East began his career in rap music and entered the scene around 2010, and since then has released 15 mixtapes and three albums, one with Styles P, and one with Harry Fraud. East was signed to Nas’ record company Mass Appeal, and has worked with everyone from Wiz Khalifa to Snoop Dogg, B-Real, Berner, Mac Miller, Chris Brown, and many others in the hip-hop music scene.
East is also an actor, and has appeared on such shows as Dave and Ridiculousness, as well as most recently playing Method Man, in the Hulu series Wu Tang: An American Saga, a drama series based on the legendary hip-hop icons.
East took time recently from one of his West Coast visits, while at a Lemonnade cannabis store in Van Nuys, to chat with High Times about his new music and acting endeavors, his excitement for his legal cannabis business, his previous legal troubles with cannabis, and his love of OG Kush.
“I always wanted to do this, it was always in the back of my mind, but I was just waiting for them to legalize it,” East said. “I linked up with my bro Steve Lobel from Weed Working Studios, and created my own Strain, East Co. OG. We put together something that I wanted to smoke. It’s the flower that I like. I get a lot of different weed from a lot of different people, and finally I just realized I need to come up with my own strain. I figured if I do it, I’m gonna do it right.”
East said that he was there from the seed to flowering process, and specifically picked an OG, due to his love of the heavy indica and aroma. “I prefer the OG myself,” he said. “I’m not too into exotics and sativas. I salute all the guys that smoke it and grow it, I mean I don’t knock it at all, but I just personally prefer the best, strongest, heaviest OG. And right now, that’s basically what dominates the East Coast, OG Kush. I was a huge fan of Marathon OG, Jet Fuel OG, and some others that were fired. I remember when there were 4 or 5 flavors, but now there’s a new strain everyday, and still, I just always prefer an OG, which is why I created East Co. OG.”
East said that he flew back and forth from New York to the West Coast throughout the entire process regularly to check up on his cultivation and connect with the farmers. “I was there from the beginning when it came to the cultivation of this OG,” he said. “I had the seed in the studio; I was there with those guys in the farm; I watched the plants grow, and saw the whole process. I made a real connection with the plant and with the people. It was something I really appreciate. It had such good vibes, and I am happy with the results.”
East Co. offers flowers, concentrates, vapes, and edibles. At the moment it is only available on the West Coast, in legal cannabis states, with many stores throughout Northern and Southern California. “East Co. is also a merch company as well as a brand and we have shirts, bags and all kinds of clothes and apparel.”
However, when it comes to cannabis, East said he is very proud of his East Co. OG, and its heavy effects, which true cannabis connoisseurs will enjoy. “With my East Co. OG it’s very heavy, if you’re not a smoker it will put you down,” he said. “It’s got a great clean super fresh taste, very sweet, but I would not recommend anyone drive on this weed, it is a couch potato body high type of weed that you put on when you wanna just relax, lay on the couch and watch a good movie and laugh, or get a good night’s rest.”
East said that since his weed was grown on the West Coast, he had a lot of positive feedback on his flower, from people in California. “I got the approval from California smokers, because everyone knows California has the best weed on the planet, hands down,” he said. “I have smoked everywhere from Amsterdam and all over, and it’s known that California has the best. Smokers I know in California gave me the thumbs up on my OG so I know I got some fire.”
East said he is in awe of the legality of cannabis, a plant he was previously incarcerated for. “This is crazy as shit. I have been locked up for weed so many times over the years, in New York, New Jersey, Philly, and all across the East Coast,” he said. “So to be able to do this all legally just shows how far this shit came. It’s amazing really, but I’m happy to be doing it legally.”
East said he also thinks there are some positive aspects to cannabis, and respects and supports medical cannabis and recreational use for adults as well. “I think cannabis also fuels a lot of creativity; people are known to make better music once they light up. For me it relaxes me really; it just calms me down,” he said. “That’s why I love that indica, that OG, the high THC strong shit, the best heaviest bud. It just takes my mind off of anger and helps me to mellow out and really relax and enjoy life. It’s definitely helped me, not hurt me that’s for sure.”
Though East. Co’s cannabis products are available only on the West Coast at the moment, East said he is working on changing that for the East Coast and eventually all legal cannabis states. “Right now we have our line in every Cookies store in California, Vegas, and Colorado,” he said. “I’m trying, and we’re in the early stages of getting out to the East Coast, like Massachusetts and other legal weed states soon. For a list of all the locations we’re available, people can check out the East Co. official IG Page.”
East did say that East Co. has a special new strain coming out next month. “I want to announce that I’m doing a special collaboration, and next month I will have my East Colato, my version of the famous strain of Gelato,” he said. “I know I love the OG but the Gelato does have a good flavor,” he said. East said additional collaborations, hybrids, and new strains will be available in the future. “I’m open to working with anyone that has the best strains, so it’s possible I could do a collaboration with Berner, we’ll see. In the meantime my Eastlato will be on fire.”
As if being a cannabis entrepreneur wasn’t enough, and obviously, East is still pushing forward with his music and just dropped his latest release, the EP, How Did I Get Here?, which features guest appearances from Benny The Butcher, Musiq Soulchild, Anthony Hamilton, and Method Man, among others.