One of the brightest examples of how cannabis influences multiple aspects of our society is Heavy Smoke, a podcast hosted by Shiest Bubz, rapper, producer, entrepreneur, and cofounder of The Smokers Club, a lifestyle brand founded back in 2010.
Heavy Smoke blends fashion, music, and culture with cannabis. Shiest Bubz and his cohost Lisa B show listeners how cannabis influences what we wear, what we listen to, and much more. It is not just a plant but a lifestyle—one that has become an integral part of our culture.
But the most interesting thing about Shiest Bubz is his dedication to spotlighting the underground cannabis culture in New York, which has recently legalized cannabis sales, and facilitate conversations with New York’s legacy market personalities. Through his platform, he gives them a voice amid the current hectic atmosphere where new regulations and stakeholders have begun to shape the future cannabis industry in the Empire State.
NYSCC had an in-depth conversation with Shiest Bubz to get to know him not just as a New York City cannabis personality but also as a cannabis enthusiast, aiming to capture the soul of his projects.
Before becoming a rapper and entrepreneur, Shiest Bubz entered the cannabis world in Upstate New York.
“In 1991, a couple of growers kinda, like, put me into the final frontier perspective of cannabis, being that I’m West Indian and I [was] already tapped into the West Indian Culture of cannabis,” he said.
Growing up with multiple cultures that embrace weed gave him a clear perspective on the most diverse aspects of cannabis.
“I am a West Indian and [had] already tapped into it. The connection there, that’s sort of like my family. It was just all a bunch of little hippies. So, I’ve been in the cannabis lifestyle and culture for a long time,” he said.
However, Shiest Bubz didn’t step onto tour buses and create a touring music festival with the biggest names overnight. Recognizing the benefits of cannabis both socially and medicinally, he started pushing the boundaries on what he could do with that and set goals to shape the life he wanted.
“The first goal was in 2000. If I was that smart, how could I turn cannabis legal for myself right now when it’s illegal in New York City?” he said.
The answer was marketing. In fact, he took the same tactics he had used in the early days of selling cannabis and tapped into his passion for music, fashion, and art to step up his game in those realms.
“I made the music just like weed content. It’s like talking about weed. Every track is weed. [It's] a weed album,” he said.
According to Shiest Bubz, the word “legacy” means something different in the cannabis industry. It doesn’t only mean you’ve made a name for yourself—it also means you have an experience that others won’t be able to get in the post-legalization cannabis world.
That’s why for Shiest Bubz, cannabis isn’t just a product; it’s an entire culture. So, when the culture shifts, you have to decide if you want to shift to stay a part of it.
“It’s like someone who’s been in jail for thirty years, and he’s finally getting released, and it’s like, I don’t know if I wanna get released. It’s like, what? And then you want me to start all over,” he said.
“Gifting and networking” is Shiest Bubz’s byword. He used the same skills he had once utilized when dealing with cannabis and adapted them to market his music and artistic projects.
According to Shiest, gifting makes people loyal, and networking makes them cherish the moments they spend with you.
Shiest Bubz brought these concepts to Heavy Smoke, which he started two and a half months ago with Lisa B. The work that Shiest Bubz and Lisa B do through the podcast is simply an extension of what he has already been doing for many years.
He began doing podcasts in 2016, back when podcasts weren’t quite so widespread. But when the podcast gold rush started between 2019 and 2020, Shiest Bubz decided to create a podcast specifically focused on the legacy market players.
“Bringing these people on the podcast to let it be known, because there are voices that won’t get heard. All these brilliant people are not from the corner, this industry, or not from this underworld of doing shit like this. They’re great [salesmen] and can sell anything. So, they get into this business, and they speak. That’s what’s great about the cannabis culture is that everyone kind of has everyone’s facts,” he said.
Shiest Bubz told NYSCC that he loves cannabis because it heightens his creativity and works as a stress reliever. He explained that those involved in the legacy market often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as they have to deal with robberies and other crimes, and that is precisely why Shiest Bubz started Heavy Smoke: to give a voice to those who have long gone unheard and show the human and professional value of legacy players.
“I have to show [the] people that are still making money push the culture forward, even though we’re not privileged to be the leaders and the growers. We don’t grow because we’ve been under the government’s fire for so long as Black people that we don’t have the opportunity to grow weed. How are we gonna grow weed? Where are we gonna grow?” he said.
“With my podcast, I am doing something very similar to what Tiffany is doing,” he said, referring to Tiffany Walters, CEO of NYSCC. She launched the platform with the intent to provide information on the cannabis industry in New York and, like Shiest Bubz with his podcast, seeks to amplify the voices of cannabis operators.
When asked whether he has any desire to enter the legal cannabis market in New York himself, Shiest Bubz told NYSCC that selling cannabis is not his current dream, as he prefers to dedicate his time to music, art, and fashion. Rather than owning a business, he would prefer to just cash out and leave others to compete in the legal industry.
Why? To put it bluntly, Shiest Bubz thinks that some businesses are doomed to fail in the legal market. “There are some people that are definitely gonna fail. I think it’s gonna be interesting to see when the recreational licenses come up and how many dispensaries open and then close. I mean, because it’s not an easy industry,” he said.
Shiest Bubz figures that some people will find it more convenient to keep buying cannabis from their usual dealers rather than going to a licensed dispensary because of the trust that has already been established.
The same concept applies to The Smoker’s Club, the cannabis-inspired lifestyle brand he started around ten years ago. By offering an alternative vision to cannabis enthusiasts, The Smoker’s Club engaged and built loyalty with a large customer base. It collaborated with other legacy brands, including Diamond Supply Co., Cookies, Runtz, and Grizzly Griptape, but perhaps most importantly, it also continued to organize festivals with lineups that included numerous artists well-known in the US rap scene, such as Wiz Khalifa and A$AP Rocky.
Follow Shiest Bubz on Instagram to learn more about Heavy Smoke, The Smoker’s Club, and more of his work.
Shiest Bubz’s quotes have been edited for length and clarity.