Rappers Are Now Getting Paid to Shill for Weed

Sep 04, 2014 at 9:48 AM ET

In Redman’s latest rap video, pot runs through the storyline. Things kick off with an Obama impersonator holding a press conference to declare that smoking dope is much better for you than drinking alcohol. Later, women wearing pasties on their boobs twerk over mounds of bud.

Weed has been a staple of rap for years, and this seems like just more of the same. But there’s one big difference: It’s actually an advertisement for pot.

Marijuana is now legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia for a broad range of medical uses, which is great news for people suffering from maladies that can be helped with a little toke. But for potrepreneurs, it means stiff competition. California alone has more than 1,000 dispensaries.

To try to separate itself from the pack, Caviar Gold has enlisted a handful of rappers to help pump up the popularity of its weed. In addition to Redman, who has five gold or platinum albums, Dr. Zodiak, Kurupt (a former member of Dr. Dre’s crew) and King Lil G are also featured in music videos touting Caviar Gold’s potency.

Celebrities pimp fragrances and athletes endorse the sneakers, so perhaps it makes sense that rappers are now giving their stamp of approval to particular strains of weed. Gold’s YouTube channel is essentially a feed of artists dropping lyrics like “can’t even buy it, have to be part of a secret society to even try it” and making passing references to Snoop Lion smoking Caviar Gold. Tech N9ne—who made the Forbes list for “Cash Kings of Hip Hop” last year, beating out 50 Cent and Rick Ross—makes an appearance in the videos and shares “how to keep a fan for life” dressed in Caviar Gold gear.

In theory, using big-name rappers seems like a solid idea for Caviar Gold, which is vying for a bigger slice of what will be a $2.5 billion market nationally for medical weed by the end of the year, according to ArcView, a research group. In California, the highest percentage of medical marijuana users is in the 18- to 24-year-old range, followed by 25- to 35-year-olds, according to a survey by the Sacramento Public Health Institute. Those groups are probably also inclined to watch the rap videos. (Only about 2 percent of Californians over the age of 65 years use marijuana for medical purposes.)

But then again, the videos aren’t exactly looking like viral hits at this point. So far, the most recent Redman video had mustered 174 views.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of the story said SC Laboratories was the owner of Caviar Gold. It is in fact, a tester, and Caviar Gold is a client. The story has been updated to correct that fact.

Quindell Willis contributed to this article.