I put an eighth in each Backwood and I smoke at least eight Backwoods a day. I’ve already smoked four times today and it’s not even lunch. Close to an ounce.
We develop these relationships very early, like an artist incubator program, where we try to empower artists to stay independent longer — give them skill sets of how to understand what a brand might want. They know at that point we’re not there for the clout, but to actually help them build something. When I started doing Backwoods five years ago, we wanted to connect with independent artists who have high potential to be incredible entertainers and musicians, and intersect them at a very early stage in their career. We work with these people and eventually their status on all these social platforms increases. Put that together and make a project that’s done off the strength of your personal brand and your connection with these people.” We show them: “Hey, rather than going to a label and having them spend money to generate your project, why don’t you work with a couple brands, developing micro-budgets from these brands?
Over the last couple years, a lot of big corporations outside of cannabis — tobacco, alcohol, food & beverage, technology — all these other industries were hovering around cannabis, peeking their head over the fence, almost hanging on the fence the entire year, trying to see everything they could, but not hopping over and jumping on the field. They were so ready to get in, but now they’re in. It’s brought in a lot of big business, which is dope.
Before, it was more of gray area. The marketing things we know we can do now, we’re going hard on. It’s been positive because everyone is safer and secure. Now there’s a lot of regulation, but we do know what we can and cannot do. The brands I work with are flourishing because we’re able to market it to even an broader consumer base than last year. There’s more money, more sales, more investors.
Do you have to explain that to  every rapper you’re around?
I’m happy to know people that are successful and positive, that I can learn from as well as teach them something too. Totally the same. Gashi is one of the first artists I ever connected with probably six, seven years ago. I learn a lot from non-cannabis smokers and smokers alike. I might not hotbox a car with him; I might have a little more consideration and open a window, or smoke outside. He never smoked, ever, and we’ve always been great friends this entire time. It's totally cool for me because I don’t have to smoke. I f— with plenty of artists who don’t.
But I’ll give someone weed if I know them and say, “Roll up your own weed.” I never pass blunts, ever. The whole rest of your blunt tastes like shit. You pass it to someone, they take the biggest rip ever because they know they’re not gonna get to hit it again. I hate someone taking a big hit of my blunt and it’s hot the rest of the time. I’m just super germaphobic. I smoke my blunt softly and enjoy it.
How much do you smoke a day?
West Coast Cure is the premier brand I’m working with right now. My favorite brand as well, just from a consumer standpoint. I come up with creative strategies — the direction the brand will take communicating with influencers and the fanbase, doing brand-to-artists collaborations, artist relations, events, etc. I work with Backwoods Cigars even though it’s not a cannabis brand per say, but a lot of cannabis consumers use Backwoods. I like their consistency and flavor profiles.
You lived in Thailand and Spain for years, right?
How do you react to artists who don’t smoke?
I still smoke in every car, walking down every street. It’s really nice. I never let it affect me either way.” /> It’s a major revenue for the state,  like a green rush. People from all over America are moving here to enter into this industry. Get a little ticket for smoking a blunt? A lot of funds are coming from all over the world, but it feels the same. I’m not doing anything wrong. Cannabis is an important part of what happening in California. When it wasn’t legal, what’s the worst that could happen?
That’s probably how a lot of people do it because there’s not really a textbook or one place you can go to for all the information. It’s something I’ve been passionate about and learned as I went. When someone asks me to A&R something, I set up an artist or producer with other creatives. No one ever really gave me the perfect definition of what an A&R is. When they do meet, I like to direct energy a certain way, to make sure they’re gonna have a fruitful relationship. I Googled it once or twice. I’m not classically trained in music. Not just connecting the producer and the artists, but informing them about each other prior to the meeting. From that point forward, I like to instruct or advise, give some feedback on how to roll it out and work together to promote it. A&R-ing is not just putting two people in the same room, it’s also what happens after that, being there at certain key moments to form the relationship in a positive way.
How is West Coast Cure connecting with the music industry?
What cannabis brands do you do marketing for?
I thought "Sour" was for Sour Diesel [the weed strain].
There was a large chance they could lose what they were investing in. The budgets, the way people are marketing, the type of infrastructure people are investing into is a major thing. People were trying to do stuff a little more frugally, more noncommittal if you will, because there was a lot more risk. Companies start day one without even having a product on the shelf, spending millions of dollars advertising something that’s not even available. Because of that, a lot of things have changed. Before it was legal, people weren’t spending millions of dollars on facilities because there was a chance they could lose that facility.
Talk about your A&R work.
You never pass your blunt — why is that?
Then she started to get in the studio because we did a Backwoods 16 Bars Challenge. We got her some press, and part of her winning was we got her some studio time. Your first performance being on stage at SXSW? In less than one year, she got signed to a record deal (Trina’s Rockstarr Music Group). The first time I heard her [Ryan] rap, she didn’t have any music out. She did it 100% on her own, but she did have some support from the brands that maybe helped build some confidence, and we gave her certain resources necessary in those moments. We helped direct the music video. And D Savage, Sosamann, Bali Baby, Ridiculously Ryan… She won and got to perform at SXSW.
What does 4/20 mean to you?
By the time it does come for them to do a deal, their stock is up, their level of skill is increased, and the diversity of things they can do for themselves behind the scenes of the music is higher. You’d study more for those classes. A lot of people using their own budgets to creatively put stuff together put way more into it than if someone just pays for it. The label values and knows that, but also, it’s harder to pull one over on them. Their music IQ is elevated tremendously because now they understand these different facets of the industry. When we show artists how to do it themselves, they generally care more. If your mom pays for you to go college, you care about it less than if you pay and go.
Sour Matt might be one of the most mysterious yet well-respected figures in the cannabis industry, as well as a growing force in the music business with which it intersects. With more than 100,000 followers on Instagram alone, he describes himself as “someone who likes to connect the dots, working with other creatives to build powerful energies.”
At the beginning, it was.
Who are some artists you’ve worked with?
How did it affect your business and clients?
We just become general allies in life for everything that we need each other to do. Other situations have gone so well, we end up doing more songs, an album, or a mixtape. I’ll help them promote that song. Sometimes, I work with an artist on a song-by-song basis. Sometimes that one song will be really dope, then we’ll shoot a music video. Sometimes, we’ll just set up a studio session and create one song, three songs, five songs. I’ve worked closely with Hoodrich Pablo Juan, Einer Bankz, Smooky MarGielaa, 600Breezy, Blocboy JB.
They do so much for the culture outside of being a cannabis brand. Studio time, music videos, connecting artists with producers, artists with artists, trying to get people into certain festivals, bookings, interviews.
What it’s like having weed legal in California?
They could give me a crazy fine.” One day, we went on the buses. It  got to a point where I was worried, like, “Damn, all of my shit’s all over these streets. Yeah, ‘cause I’d tag all my stuff "Sour." That’s how I built a lot of my Instagram. So I was like, “Damn, I guess they’re not really hating on me.” Every bus, they’d done a little exposé on my artwork and put it in the country’s marketing campaign for tourists. It was on every subway and every bus in the whole control, [highlighting my] artwork being a cool thing about Spain when you visit.
That’s probably the largest change, the money that’s coming into the industry. Let’s spend X amount and get the place that we could retire in, the place that our company could live for the 20 years and be dope.” People are jumping right to that with these mega-facilities, headquarters, marketing centers, creative spaces, influencer lounges — it’s pretty nuts. But now people are like, “We’re safe. The money comes from people who have a strong business acumen and are classically and traditionally trained, so they’re adding a element of professionalism to the industry with their insurgence of funds.
“I put 90% of my awake hours, if not 98% of my awake hours, into my work," says Sour Matt (pictured with one of his artist clients, Sfrea, above). And for anyone curious, he blows roughly an ounce a day.
Is that were the artist Sour Matt came from?
How has marijuana legalization changed the industry in your eyes?
I was taking dilapidated items on the street and rejuvenating them, putting some life into them. A lot of people liked my artwork because I wasn’t destroying property. I did an enormous amount of street art activations. Being in Spain for three-plus years is where I really developed my skill sets when it came to product placement marketing. I just started seeing what types of imagery brands wanted to represent them. I’d do a piece on the street, then send it to an artist or a brand and have them repost it. Taking objects and shapes on the street and turning them into something else. Taking a garbage can and turning it into R2-D2, or turning a pothole cover into a pizza or a golf ball.
Whether it’s consulting, creative directing, plugging artists with exclusive product and gear, putting together events, or A&R-ing studio sessions with some of hip-hop’s biggest names, the cannabis connoisseur has worked his way up through fostering genuine relationships in the industry, and upholding an organic strategy on how to build a social media platform. Aside from working with a slew of interesting musicians and brands, the New York-bred, L.A.-based creative serves as Backwood Cigars' creative director, CEO to Lit Marketing andWest Coast Cure’s go-to plug.
But me personally, I don’t celebrate 4/20. I like to celebrate accomplishments. I don’t really subscribe to holidays in general. So 4/20 to me is more of a day to commercially celebrate something, which I’m cool with. It means a lot of work —  a really busy day for me where I have so many activations, so many different things for all my brands, it’s just a major day. Over the last decade, there’s not one holiday that I celebrated — not one New Year's Day or Christmas. It’s a day to engage the brand to the community.
There’s such a crossover in music and weed — talk about bridging that gap.
A lot of times I start off meeting someone by giving them a blunt or a joint, then smoking mine after I’ve given them something to smoke. No, ‘cause a lot of people just get it. If they see me roll up a blunt, they see how much passion and dedication I put into each one and how serious I am about rolling. They realize, "Hey that’s for you, this is for me,” and I’d like us to start the relationship smoking our own blunts and continue that.