Dame Dash is one of the most renowned creatives to emerge from Hip Hop. His contributions to the culture are undeniable from being a manager, record label owner and fashion trailblazer, to innovative entrepreneur and filmmaker. As a co-founder of the legendary Roc-A-Fella Records, he was behind the success of JAY-Z, State Property, Kanye West,The Diplomats, and so many others.
In 2002 he added film producer to his extensive resume, helping launch the films State Property and Paid In Full. In the years that followed Dash added The Woodsman, a State Property sequel and more to his filmography.
For his latest film Stoned, he introduces actor Lucien Watson to the world. In this hilarious film, two friends from opposite sides of life partner up on a mission to help each other grow and, of course, find weed. The film is poised to be a new 420 cult classic that pays homage to all the classic stoner films that preceded it.
In a DX Exclusive, Dame spoke about shooting the film in less than a week on Kanye’s ranch in Wyoming after promising Lucien that he would put him in a film.
“So I had a script that I was developing that I wanted to shoot during COVID,” Dame tells HipHopDX. “When I was at Kanye’s ranch, I was kicking it with Lucien and his man and I just found them to be naturally funny. I’m a funny guy so if you can make me laugh regularly and consistently, then you have something. Kanye has a lot of things going on creatively so sometimes it might look like it’s chaos. There were things that I wasn’t going to be involved in. So while I didn’t have so much to do, I was inspired by all the creativity to be creative. Kanye actually flew out my crew on a private jet and our intention was to do a lot of things and we ended up shooting a movie. Imagine having a younger brother who’s a billionaire. I was like, “I’m using all this shit.”
Lucien, who holds the distinction of being the first rapper ever on a Kanye West track, recalled meeting Dame and he promised him that he was going to be in a movie the next day.
“We were all in Wyoming during Kanye’s run for president,” Lucien says. “He needed to be around people that he knew loved him. After hanging out and joking with Dame all night he said, ‘I’m putting them in a movie tomorrow.’ To tell the truth, I didn’t believe anything he said. Then the next day, we were shooting a movie at 8 a.m.”
Lucien also recalled what it was like growing up with a young Kanye West. They formed the rap group State of Mind and he said he always knew that Kanye was one of the best artists ever while they were teenagers in Chicago.
“We were young. We were artists that wanted to express ourselves to the city of Chicago. I had been rapping throughout the city before I met Kanye so I kind of had a name. When I got with Kanye, we just wanted to do music, we wanted to get on. He had the dope beats and I had the dope rhymes and the rest is history. We made magic.”
While Stoned celebrates stoner culture, both Dame and Lucien are interested in making sure that up-and-coming Black entrepreneurs have equity in the exploding cannabis industry.
“Cannabis is a gift and a curse because if you’re not prepared, you’re going out of business or you gotta sell that shit. You gotta have money and be literate in that business. It’s not as easy as when we were doing it when it was illegal. It’s like starting from scratch because it’s made for people that were doing it before, not to be able to do it now,” Dame explains.
With all of the challenges that exist in the cannabis industry, Dame still believes that Black entrepreneurs must seek out opportunities to be involved in the sector. According to the business mogul, Hip Hop culture is one of the main reasons for the popularity of weed. For Dame, the cannabis game can be the outlet for entrepreneurs to build successful businesses with the proper education.
“Well, number one, it’s about freedom, right? So if there’s a way for us to make sure our circumstances are made better for our families, we need to do that. Number two, we paved the way because no one was smoking and tying it into the culture like Hip Hop,” Dame argued. “That industry was made by us. So the minute that they want to monetize it by taxing it shouldn’t mean that we get shut out. But again, if somebody gives you something, just like the opportunity we had on the ranch, and you don’t know how to capitalize off it, it becomes a curse.
It could become oversaturated. The average drug dealer likes to make money fast. Getting into this cannabis business legally will take a lot of money upfront, a lot of waiting and in a certain way, you have to have some real patience for this.”
“If somebody’s giving me something knowing that I don’t know how it works, just to say they gave it to me, they want to watch me fail. What’s an opportunity without giving the literacy that comes with it and the time to learn it? It’s a trap,” Dame continued.
Lucien says he understands firsthand the devastating impact that the criminalization of marijuana has had on his family, friends, and community. He hopes that those who were incarcerated for what is now a billion-dollar business will be afforded opportunities to capitalize on the industry.
“I still got partners in jail doing football numbers for weed. Going into this industry with a certain vernacular, it’s not made for you to succeed,” Lucien said. “Again, back to this point, you put money in the street and get your money out the street. It happens fast, you know, you want to see that shit. It just becomes a catch-22.”
“I got one partner right now who has his own cannabis company and I should have at least 10-12 partners who have their own cannabis companies from where he came from. If your bread ain’t long and your patience is short, you’re not going to make it in that industry,” Lucien added.
For Dame and Lucien, Stoned is more than just another film about weed, it marks their vision as independent creators and collaborators who plan to produce several more projects. Dame believes that Stoned will be received as one the best stoner films of all time. When asked what are some of his favorite stoner films, Dame didn’t hesitate to run them off, but still stands by his own product.
“Some of my favorite stoner films are the Cheech and Chong movies, Half Baked,How High, and Pineapple Express,” Dame said. “But when y’all see how funny Stoned is, it’s going to rank right up there with one of the best stoner films.”
Stoned is streaming now on Peacock and TUBI. You can watch the trailer below: