Exclusive Interview: Hip Hop Emcee, 1st Lady of the West Coast, Proceeds in Being the First Black Woman in Cannabis
The word “Artist” by definition is a person who practices any of the various creative arts, such as a performer, musician, poet or a filmmaker. I would like to think that all of these examples embody the true nature of 1st Lady of the West Coast’s artistic medium.
She is a vocal artist, when she is in the studio belting out her newest creation. She is a performer, when she is on stage entertaining and engaging diverse audiences. She is a poet, when she is sitting down expressing her innermost thoughts and feelings to her songbook, knowing that one day someone will hear it and share in that special with her. And last but certainly not least, she a filmmaker and has orchestrated, filmed and edited most of her own music videos in hopes of sharing her unique vision of music with the world.
The 1st Lady of the West Coast, also known as 1st Lady, first started singing at the tender age of four and writing her own music at age eight. She has been working with the record label 880Style Inc., for the past 17 years, cultivating and perfecting her artistry.
In November of 2014, 1st Lady signed with DPMG International/ DPMG Urban who secured her a distribution deal with Ingrooves through Universal Music Group. Only to be offered a Sony distribution deal and Interscope marketing deal with DPMG International a few months later in February of 2015.
In 2018, 1st Lady started her own label 1st Lady Of The West Coast Music Group to help teach artist how to be their own entrepreneur in the music business.
The First Lady of the West Coast, as she is known, is a true Queen of cannabis cultivation. The first black woman to have her own cannabis strains, she is the Founder and CEO of Herb of Life Cultivation, LLC, in Los Angeles and has created three strains to date: Flotwckush, December Nights OG and Black Girl Magic OG – all unique and aimed at helping to ease symptoms of depression, menstrual problems, back pain and spasms from which she suffers and other ailments cannabis is known to heal.
I recently interviewed her where she chatted more on her endeavors. Check out the interview below.
Growing up and still to this day who are your inspirations and how did they impact your life?
My parents and God are my number inspiration; without them I wouldn’t be who I am today. They impacted my life in a big way teaching me I can be anything I put my mind to and to never give up when it gets hard and to always put God first in my life in all that i do. My uncle Roni, Geno and Aunt Veronica, Aunt Rene, my cousin Mahershala Ali, Derrick Grace, have also played a great impact in my life. Watching them go for their dreams and goals and accomplishing them. They played a good role in my through their teaching and knowledge over the years.
Artist wise, Missy Elliot was a big inspiration as a female artist and producer and is why I ended up changing my major in college from web designing to audio engineering production because I loved what Missy Elliot did for herself as an artist and still does. Tupac for his inspiration of his love and knowledge and strength towards his community. Oprah is an inspiration as well, a black woman who is a billionaire and didn’t let anything stop her. She had a vision and she made it reality.
I have so much people who have inspired me through out my life from Les Brown and Tony Robbins of Rich Dad Poor Dad.
You’re quoted having said you’ve dealt with mental illness such as depression and thoughts of suicide. How much of an epidemic and lack of solutions are there in the African American community?
I don’t think there is a lot of solutions and there needs to be which is why I’m trying to be a voice for it. Despite progress made over the years, racism continues to have an impact on the mental health of Black/African Americans. Negative stereotypes and attitudes of rejection have decreased, but continue to occur with measurable, adverse consequences.
Historical and contemporary instances of negative treatment have led to a mistrust of authorities, many of whom are not seen as having the best interests of Black/African Americans in mind. I believe teaching the African American community on the medical benefits of cannabis when it comes to mental Illness. (illicit drug use is frequently associated with self-medication among people with mental illnesses. I read an article that said less than 2 percent of American Psychological Association members are Black/African American, some may worry that mental health care practitioners are not culturally competent enough to treat their specific issues. To me this is compounded by the fact that certain Black/African American patients have reported experiencing racism and micro-aggression from therapists
Stigma and judgment prevents Black/African Americans from seeking treatment for their mental illnesses. Research indicates that Black/African Americans believe that mild depression or anxiety would be considered “crazy” in their social circles.
You credit your cannabis line to those issues in your past, as well as liver and kidney failure. What major difference is there between the pharmaceutical over the counter drugs and cannabis?
My cannabis lines are for people who are looking for a natural alternative than pharmaceutical drugs. One of the big differences are the war on opioids and the addiction that is caused by pharmaceutical drugs, as well as the deaths of overdose from them. A change has to come and starts today with the cannabis industry. Pharmaceutical drugs are killing people and destroying the immune system of the body. Cannabis is healthier than pharmaceutical drugs.
When did you start your cannabis line and how did you pull off the magnificent feat?
I spoke my line into existence back in 2004 while looking up at the stars on a winter night in Modesto, California. At the time we lived in Modesto. My parents had moved us from the Bay Area since my mother was retired from Oakland Police Department.
I was thinking and saying to myself and the sky at the age of 17 that it would be dope to have my own strain line. I remember like yesterday, I closed my eyes and said to myself, “God, you hear me? It would be really dope to have my own strain line.”
In 2016 Flotwckush aka First Lady Of The West Coast Kush was created with the help of my business partner DukeOfErb. In 2017, December Nights Og was created and my Godson helped me create the name for my second strain line. BlackGirlMagicOg is my third cannabis strain line she was created in 2018. I thank DukeofErb for helping and teaching me the ropes on everything he knows. I knew what I wanted to create something that could help, how it tasted, how it smelled, even how it looked but what was important was how it could help medically.
Your line has 3 strains for medicinal purposes can you tell us about them and their pharmaceutical medicinal purposes? What other medicinal purposes does cannabis serve and what information would you share with the haters of cannabis and label it an illegal drug?
The beauty of the cannabis plant is we’re still learning so much more of what they plant can do medically, but with the research in truth, numerous studies published in renowned, peer-reviewed medical journals such as Neurology, Rheumatology, Annals of Internal Medicine, the American Journal of Clinical Oncology, and the British Journal ofClinical Pharmacology have all documented significant health benefits associated with the use of medicinal Cannabis across a wide range of ages, races, genders, and health conditions. Do you experience any of the following medical conditions?
- Chronic Pain
- Crohn’s Disease/IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
- Hepatitis C
- Lou Gehrig’s Disease/ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s Disease (including Early-Onset)
- PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
With all the research out there today, I would tell people like I tell them all the time educate yourself on the plant and the benefits from the plant. There are schools and certain states now that educate you on the medical cannabis. That’s what I would tell people who aren’t educated on the cannabis and if they don’t want to be educated on it, don’t fix your mouth to speak on things you don’t take the time to study on.
One of your other valiant achievements that isn’t talked about is your fight and support for minorities jailed on marijuana charges, what inspired this particular fight/stance?
I’m tired of seeing people of color arrested for cannabis. It doesn’t make sense to me. Jail time for a plant. It piss me off. This is people’s form of medicine and they were arrested because they got caught with it because they made a choice that they didn’t wanna take pharmaceutical drugs but a natural herb.
My fights is get every person of color or person out of jail for cannabis charges. Setting with the mayor of the cities and talking how we can make real change on cannabis arrest. They didn’t harm anyone but got caught with a plant, come on really?
It is happening in all regions of the country, in counties large and small, urban and rural. It’s not fair. It’s not making us any safer. It’s wasting valuable resources. And it’s taking a toll on thousands of lives every year.Police routinely arrest millions of people just for having marijuana every year. Billions of taxpayer dollars fund these arrests, which disproportionately target Black people. This has to stop, it can’t move forward anymore we have to put a stop to this and it’s my goal to help end cannabis arrest.
Black/African Americans also account for 37 percent of drug arrests, but only 14 percent of regular drug users (illicit drug use is frequently associated with self-medication among people with mental illnesses)
If you could offer some great words of wisdom and inspirational advice to the millennials what would it be?
If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything! Be a voice in your community. Be the change you want to see in this world. Remember certain people will give up on you, you gotta make sure you don’t give up on yourself. You can be anything you put your mind too. Giving up isn’t a option! Go Conquer the world Kings and Queens!