“Weed does that, it makes you rationalize,” begins Clifford Smith, Jr., best known for his stage name, Method Man, and his participation in the legendary rap group Wu-Tang Clan. The artist is ready to provide a gateway into his memories, beliefs and aspirations, as he prepares to discuss his relationship with the herb and the history of his cannabis brand, TICAL — an acronym for Taking Into Consideration All Lives. His story, drenched in the intricate layers of urban culture, music, cannabis and societal evolution, is a poignant testament to both personal and collective transformation.
The Origin Story
The aroma of cannabis wasn’t a clandestine whisper in the corners of Method Man’s childhood; it was an outspoken truth. “I don’t know what draws people, or rather urban poor areas, to marijuana smoke,” he says. “But I’ve been around it all my life. My mother smoked, my father smoked, their friends smoked, my uncles smoked.” This familiarity, far from being a taboo, was an accepted, even cherished constant in his life.
His personal tryst with the herb was a natural progression: “I just fell in love with it when I felt that high for the first time,” he fondly reminisces. “There’s just something about it, you know? And I’ve tried other things since, and it just didn’t hit me the same.” Today, the changing legal landscape around cannabis vindicates his early perceptions. “Now with the laws we have today, it’s proven that I wasn’t doing anything bad,” he remarks.
As he reflects on the evolution of cannabis culture, he adds, “Over the years, what I’ve seen is that the strains have gotten way more complex. Some people are just doing way too much in these laboratories, you know what I mean? Remember when we called it grass? It’s like, ‘I want some pot.’ But with so many choices now, it’s like going into a smoke shop that sells your favorite cigar. Some strains have come out that I’m still searching for. Northern lights, I’m looking at you. But again, this is the beauty of the business because it’s ever-changing and improving.”
In his personal and evolving relationship with cannabis, Method Man saw an opportunity to make a mark in the industry. Thus, TICAL was born. And it’s quickly evident that TICAL isn’t a solitary endeavor. Nathanial “Nutta” Vereen, co-founder of TICAL Cannabis, articulates this collective vision. “TICAL is so much more than just a cannabis brand, it’s a movement. It’s a group of guys dedicated to doing right by a loyal friend in Method Man, while also helping people have access to the medicine they need in states that it’s allowed to be legally sold in,” he says.
Weed, Music And Comic Books: The Best Of Friends
While cannabis has been a significant part of Method Man’s life, music was its pulsating heartbeat. His connections within the music world weave a web of mutual respect and camaraderie.
When prompted about the perfect musical pairings for cannabis, his response is quite unexpected, ranging from The Doobie Brothers, Jimi Hendrix and Tom Waits to Wu-Tang Clan and Inspectah Deck (“because I gotta throw Deck in every interview I do”).
“And Tom Waits. I mean, that dude… just his voice alone, it’s like this mofo is doped up, killing it. You know what I mean? It just. I don’t know what it is. I’m a vibe.”
Method Man also feels that some artists, despite their immense talent, remain in the shadows. “Twista… I don’t think he gets enough credit,” he laments, adding, “Shout out to Twista. Happy 50th, Twista. You are a bad mofo.”
But this narrative isn’t just about an individual; it’s also about a collective. “We’re all about staying true to the culture and community,” shares TICAL co-founder and COO Joshua “Raz” Rassin. He elaborates on his team’s efforts to remain culturally relevant, connecting with the very roots that gave birth to the TICAL brand.
The connection between music and cannabis doesn’t just stop at personal preferences. Rassin delves into this synergy, emphasizing the rhythm and vibe that cannabis adds to the musical experience. “Being at Meth and Red shows, Wu-Tang shows, you can see the majority of the crowd is smoking flower. That weed, on top of the music, creates a rhythm, a lifestyle, an energy,” he elaborates, emphasizing the reciprocal energy exchange at these shows, drawing a parallel with the cannabis experience.
An unexpected, yet profound layer to Method Man’s persona emerges in his love for comics. They have been his moral compass, guiding him through life’s intricate maze. When probed about the possibility of merging the ethical lessons of comics with the world of cannabis, he playfully suggests, “Jay and Silent Bob are the way to go.” With a chuckle, he recommends, “You want your education? You check out my guys. Kevin Smith is a genius, man. Jay Mills is hilarious.”
“That’s how you infuse it all together right there, man,” he continues. “I mean, it’s there every day. Weed is just like that f-d-up cousin nobody talks about. But they invite him to every f-ing family function ’cause he’s fun as f-ck.”
The TICAL Story
Amidst this melange of interests, TICAL emerges as the culmination of Method Man’s journey. It’s not just a brand; it’s a movement, a manifesto. “We are the American dream,” he asserts with palpable pride. Elaborating on its trajectory, he shares, “The brand is getting bigger and bigger. And the fact that a kid used to get locked up for this sh-t, he’s now a proprietor… a proprietor of the substance that was the bane of his existence. Which is great, man. I see big things for us.”
TICAL, for him, is about more than business; it’s about legacy, culture and evolution. He passionately states, “You have someone that genuinely knows what this culture and movement is about. And he’s pushing it forward with his own brand. Not trying to show people how it’s done, but to show people how we do it.”
However, the journey wasn’t without its challenges. Bryan “Z” Zabinski, one of TICAL’s co-founders, sheds light on the glaring lack of black operators in specific markets, emphasizing the team’s mission to change these disparities. Its dedication to supporting black communities and businesses is clear, highlighting the essence of what TICAL stands for.
Zabinski recalls the TICAL team’s longstanding association with Method Man, spanning over a decade. Their collective vision, driven by a shared passion, culminated in a presentation that showcased their dedication to prioritizing the artist and the brand. As they stood in front of Method Man, the trio’s commitment to getting everything right was clear as day.
Drawing a comparison with the humble beginnings of hip-hop and the legendary Wu-Tang Clan, Zabinski emphasizes the brand’s authenticity: “Just like Wu-Tang started hand-to-hand in the streets, TICAL too, builds its foundation from the ground up, staying true and bootstrapped.”
The enthusiasm and drive behind TICAL aren’t limited to Method Man alone. Rassin reflects on the journey and the future. “It’s been a long road to where we are and we have so much further to go. This brand, this team, the talent that is Method Man, it’s all very exciting to be part of and we cannot wait to unveil what we have in store,” he says.
His sentiment resonates even deeper as he reminisces about the collaboration: “I am humbled to work with the legendary Method Man; someone I have respected and admired throughout my entire life. I am proud to be a part of the team that brought this brand to life… It has been a surreal experience. We are thrilled to see how well the TICAL brand is being received in our current markets and we are excited to continue the global expansion.”
Reflecting on the inception of TICAL, Zabinski highlights the immense dedication and sacrifice that went into its creation. “We told Meth, ‘Hey, look, we’re going to put you first. This is huge for the culture, and huge for the industry. We’re going to bootstrap this thing ourselves,’” he recalls. Such commitment paints a vivid picture of the team’s unwavering belief in TICAL’s potential and its importance to the community.
As the landscape of cannabis culture and business evolves, so does Method Man’s journey through it. While he has achieved much, there’s an underlying sentiment that resonates throughout his narrative. Drawing from the essence of his words, one feels the depth of his connection to the plant and its community.
“The beauty of this business,” he repeats, “It’s its ever-changing nature, improving and getting better.” In the midst of this evolution, Method Man remains rooted in authenticity, representing not just his personal venture but the cultural movement at large. He’s not merely part of the cannabis industry; he’s a testament to its transformative power and potential. Through TICAL and his continued advocacy, Method Man is shaping a future where cannabis is not just accepted but celebrated for its multifaceted contributions to society. And as he often hints, this journey is just getting started.