C.J. Wallace, Son of Notorious B.I.G. and Faith Evans, Launches Cannabis Line to Benefit the Prison Arts Project

C. J. Wallace
Photo: Krupa Consulting

“Smoking blunts was a daily routine, since 13,” Biggie once famously rapped. But now his son, C.J., is showing the public that marijuana use goes far beyond the typical “Party and Bullshit” of most rap lyrics.

C.J. Wallace is best known for playing the role of his iconic father in 2009’s Notorious biopic. Now, 10 years later, he’s taking another step in memorializing his dad. Wallace tells Esquire about his plans to help his father’s legacy live on through advocacy and de-stigmatizing marijuana use.

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“Cannabis has sort of been in my family for as far back as I can remember,” he explains. “My youngest brother, Ryder, was diagnosed with nonverbal autism—my mom was always against using pharmaceuticals like Ritalin and opioids—so cannabis, CBD, was definitely an option we looked at and researched. We started giving him CBD gummies; as he’s gotten older, he loves the Jayden’s Juice product.”

Wallace’s company, Think BIG, is joining up with Lowell Herb Co. to release its first cannabis product: a pre-rolled “signature sun-grown California cannabis, custom blended with Orange Sherbet, Banjo, and Rattlesnake Sour Diesel” strains. They’ve named it the Frank White Creative Blend, a nod to Biggie’s alias Frank White, based on the drug lord, and main character, in the film King of New York. The limited-edition cannabis blend is currently available at LA’s Rose Collective and Sweet Flower for $40.

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Says Wallace:

I’ve always been inspired by my dad and his alter-ego, by the ghostly figure of Frank White. I’ve always wanted to play with that, and this was my chance to do it. A lot of people don’t really know this, but my dad actually went to jail a few times. His longest stint was about nine months. And that’s when he made his decision to take his writing, his craft more seriously. […] And that’s definitely a story I want to share with the world, just as a creative to be able to take yourself out of that darkness and come up with such beauty is amazing to me.

 

According to Esquire, a percentage of proceeds from sales of the Frank White Creative Blend will benefit California’s Prison Arts Project. Part of the William James Association, the project was created in 1977 and “contracts with professional artists to create long-term arts experiences for incarcerated people,” according to instructor Katya McCulloch. “The program selects and hires professional visual, literary and performing artists to teach in California state prison facilities through Arts in Corrections, an innovative fine arts program developed in association with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the California Arts Council.”

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As noted on the Prison Arts website:

Research indicates that participants in the Prison Arts Project are less likely to have disciplinary problems while in prison, and are more likely to be successful upon parole. Our current research project suggests that art classes provide a safe haven for inmate artists to learn and create art with others, build bridges between races and cultural groups, and help students maintain connections with their family.

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Even with this much-needed prison program benefiting from Think BIG, the relationship between the prison system and the legal cannabis industry has remained complicated by inequity. The legal cannabis market has been widely criticized across the U.S. for putting massive amounts of money into the hands of the wealthy without accounting for restorative justice. Millions of people of color have been jailed for selling, or even possessing, marijuana during its prohibition, even in petty amounts. The lasting effects of mass incarceration have been felt throughout families and communities nationwide.

And because it don’t take nothin’ but frontin’ for him to start something, Wallace openly calls out the industry for getting rich while turning a blind eye to injustice:

Just every other brand that’s out there, if they don’t have a criminal justice angle, they’re doing a huge disservice to everybody. Everybody has, or should have, a responsibility to speak on that and do as much as they can to correct those wrongs.

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It will be interesting to see just how socially conscious and collaborative Wallace’s company will be in the coming months and years. It claims to be more than just a capitalistic company; this limited-edition Prison Arts partnership could be just one small offering toward the whole movement Wallace speaks of. According to a recent press release, Think BIG is promoting marijuana as a medicinal tool for “creativity, contemplation, and healing while advocating for criminal justice reform.” Time will tell exactly how “Big” they’re thinking.

You can read the full Esquire interview here.

 

Correction: Sept. 22, 2019, 3:20 p.m. ET: This story has been edited to remove unattributed text and to add fuller sourcing.

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