Corey Woods, better known as Raekwon “The Chef,” original founding member of the legendary hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan, recently launched his own cannabis brand in the Michigan market through an exclusive rights deal with Players Only, a luxury cannabis brand created by NBA Hall-of-Famer and entrepreneur Chris Webber.
Named after the man himself, Compliments of the Chef is a curated selection of some of the most exquisite cannabis that he’s found across the U.S. Rae explains he looks for unique color, taste and smell, but is also very interested in the story behind each cultivar.
Compliments of the Chef is the result of a partnership between the rapper and CitizenGrown, a technology and mission-based startup first featured on Forbes in 2020. The company has a unique business model: It creates automated boxes that allow regular people to grow premium cannabis at home. The vision is equally cool: the team wants to place these boxes in the homes of deserving “Citizens,” those most impacted by the War on Drugs and other socio-economically challenged people, and then share the profits of each harvest with them.
“It’s incredible to see where cannabis is going and how people are beginning to see how it can unlock superpowers like it has in my life. With Compliments, with the mission of CitizenGrown, with the thoughtfulness of Players Only, we hope to shepherd in more and more artistry, creativity and love of the game,” Rae explains during an exclusive interview.
The Threads That Make Up The Webb
The alliance between Chris Webber’s Players Only brand and Raekwon’s Compliments of the Chef brings together two longtime friends who share the same values regarding the future of cannabis and its ability to create a meaningful impact in the Detroit community.
“I’m incredibly proud to work with my brother Raekwon,” says Webber. “Our team is committed to helping amplify his Compliments of the Chef product offerings through Players Only in a truly innovative way. Both Raekwon and I share similar visions for uplifting our respective communities and establishing blueprints for cannabis entrepreneurship, so we look forward to disrupting the market for years to come.”
Compliments of the Chef made its debut in Detroit, and is now available at Gage stores in Ferndale, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Adrian, Burton and Battle Creek, as well as in Cookies Ann Arbor and Cookies Kalamazoo – these last two, part of rapper Berner’s uber-successful cannabis company.
“Why not Detroit, this is where Marvin Gaye is from,” Rae voices. The artist has loved the Motor City, the home of Motown, since he was a kid and the opportunity to work with Chris Webber made Michigan an easy focal point.
The first strain launched by the brand is one part Oni genetics (a specific cultivar that is a personal favorite of this reporter) and one party mystery-strain, and boasts a strong aroma, distinct purple color and a likening to the strain du jour, “Super Boof.” The beautiful, bright Sativa-leaning hybrid boasts delicious tangerine, honeysuckle and raspberry flavors that pair wonderfully with the happy, euphoric and energized mood that it generates. As Rae explicates, Compliments of the Chef’s unique scent profile has been known to cause a “love at first smell” experience, and its invigorating effects and cerebral buzz make it the perfect smoke for any time of the day.
Compliments of the Chef - COURTESY
Compliments of the Chef is a sort of play on words, he continues. It is the gourmet Chef’s kiss of delight, a sign of gratitude, “the Chef’s” curated collection of the best quality cannabis and cannabis growers from around the globe. Rae’s desire to search out those on the margins, use cannabis to lift up others and spark creativity is perfectly aligned with CitizenGrown's mission, which makes the partnership quite symbiotic.
“Rae's partnership with CG is because of an alignment of values but there is a practical element to it too. Our model is centered around growing boxes that we put into people's homes,” adds Deepa Vora, CitizenGrown’s CEO. “The idea is to share profits with the communities we enter by capitalizing on unused space and sharing the profits of the grow. So, as CG's network of growers grows, we will be able to support growing Rae’s brands in each community we enter.”
Decentralized, With Equity At The Center Of It All
As Rae and Deepa expound, CitizenGrown is on a mission to create equal opportunity in the cannabis space, one home-grow box at a time. Its ever-growing decentralized network of growers challenges traditional cannabis and cultivation business assumptions and makes room for more players in the space. The duo believes that with access and education, everyday people will, and should, benefit from the cannabis economy.
CitizenGrown - CITIZENGROWN
“We’re creating a decentralized network of growers, experimenting with cannabis UBI - universal basic income, honoring the legacy of home grow and creating an unorthodox backbone for a for-profit cannabis company that addresses what hasn’t worked with existing cannabis social equity programs,” Deepa, a Michigan native herself, declares. “There are amazing new celebrity brands every day, but Compliments is different: purchasing directly [from growers] supports the mission of opening up the cannabis economy to everyday people, leveling the playing field. We think it’s the sort of conscientious capitalism there is a real appetite for.”
Not only a fearless wordsmith and successful solo artist, Rae is also an innovator, credited with inspiring the movement of underworld drug tales through his multi-million-selling classic album, “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.” His voice became a collection of voices and his knack for shining a spotlight on others inspired Compliments of the Chef.
“Weed fueled my music and creativity from the beginning. Being able to share that, to fuel others’ dreams, is the reason for Compliments of the Chef,” Raekwon explains.
In addition to launching with Players Only in Detroit, Compliments is currently formulating partnerships with young, minority farmers in Oklahoma and Oregon, and, with CitizenGrown’s efforts, will be actively seeking out the underdogs in every market across the country as well as starting pilot programs for its “Airbnb for cannabis” business model, the rapper and the CG executive add in tandem.
As Rae likes to say, it's incredible to him that he used to sell drugs illegally and now he is doing the same thing, for the bigger good. Through his music, which was fueled intensely by cannabis, Rae was able to get out of poverty, and rise from a staircase in Staten Island to the main stage. There is a certain poetic justice in his cannabis project, which seeks to achieve similar “rise up” goals.
Article via Forbes.
This article was originally published on Forbes and appears here with permission.