Written by Sylvie Barnett

As the world gets ready to reopen, we recently had a chance to catch up with one of the most talented and prolific Bay Area based rappers, IAMSU!. Dawning a rather impressive body of hip-hop music, throughout the last eight years, the rapper, producer, recording artist, and entrepreneur has continuously captivated audiences through his stellar lyrics and dynamic production. Along the way, he has collaborated with the likes of Cookies’ CEO Berner, the Bay Area’s most notorious rapper E-40, Wiz Khalifa, Devin the Dude, Snoop Dogg, G-Eazy, Kehlani, and countless other hip-hop heavyweights. In 2020, SU came out with the riveting single “For The People” which has served as an inspirational theme song for the African American community.

Touring the globe and releasing multiple gold and platinum hit songs IAMSU! is also a promoter, record label owner, and app developer. In short, IAMSU! could be called a modern Renaissance man. Through it all, the mega-talented artist possesses a massive love for mary jane. He believes in the power of using cannabis to further his creative process and maintain a positive all-around attitude. In recent years, the prolific rapper released thirteen albums on his emblem Eyes On Me. He also runs an online EYES ON ME STORE and has successfully developed his own event series IAMSUMMER which is currently on the backburner due to the pandemic. IAMSU! is set to release the anniversary merchandise collection of his debut album, Sincerely Yours on Thursday, May 13th.

IAMSU! takes a break from producing music in the studio and his numerous ventures to tell us more about his love for cannabis and his creative process.


Herbanmusic: In 2020, you participated in the Bay Area’s I Got Five On It live broadcast on Tupac Shakur’s birthday to raise money for Bay Area cannabis businesses. What was that experience like?

IAMSU: It was my first virtual performance and it was a different experience. I had no microphone and I played my beats. I’m about coming together so anything in support of that I’m about. It was awesome.

Herbanmusic: How does cannabis affect your creative process?

IAMSU: It adds to it. It definitely helps my creativity. That’s what I’ll say and it adds joy. It’s kind of ritualistic in some aspects. I like what it does.

I like to use that time to get my head clear, listen to some other people’s music, and just catch vibes. Then I just start recording my bars from here.

Herbanmusic: Ok so which artists do you like to listen to when you’re high?

IAMSU: I like to listen to Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi. I listen to a lot of artists from Detroit like Rio Da Yung OG. Some Bay Area artists of course. I’ve been hella big on Michael Jackson, like the last four months I’ve been overdosing on him. And that’s probably my main rotation right now.

Herbanmusic: Very cool. So how does cannabis improve the quality of your life overall?

IAMSU: I think it’s just like a way to destress. So, you know, anything that you can have that can help you relax, I promote as well. I think it helps the quality of my life as far as I’d be intense and distressed. Because other stuff is going on, you need a little break.

Herbanmusic: Ok and in your opinion, how has the history of cannabis directly influenced hip-hop culture?

IAMSU: From what I could see from the beginning of me even listening to music, I’ve been hearing it, skits you know, like the little Wayne lighter flick before he raps or Dr. Dre’s the chronic, something like that. It’s always been hand in hand like when “How High” first came out. I was around twelve at the time. It’s always something that has been present in the culture. Wiz Khalifa was a huge influence on me too. So, it’s just always had a presence in hip hop.

Herbanmusic: Agreed so we’re glad to hear you’re on the same page. What’s your songwriting and production process like?

IAMSU: So, I put my TV on and I’ll either throw on like BBC Earth or a nature documentary, Disney plus or “Home Alone.” I got my blue neon light and I sit on the computer and I just vibe out. I got my keyboard and everything so I’ll just be facing the TV playing melodies. I get a loop of frustration off of Splice and as soon I get the main melody the song is like low key already written. I got my flows and my chorus pretty placed in once I hear the main melody.

Herbanmusic: Sweet. Okay, so another very different question. When it comes to cannabis, what’s your preferred way to get high?

IAMSU: I’m going to say these King’s palm leaves, they’re like stuck on a cone. And there’s no tobacco. It’s a more natural way. I’m trying to cut down on any additives so that means no Swisher cigarillos like that. I’ve been just kind of sticking with the king palm leaf. And I also like gravity bongs when the time calls for it.

Herbanmusic: What was your first experience like ever getting high?

IAMSU: I was at my sister’s house and our parents were gone. I was around seventeen and we had a backyard party. And my cousin made a Biela, it’s like two Swishers. And then after that everything was just so funny. I remember we were making drinks in a blender. We just had a fun night. So, after that, it’s just been a part of my routine.

Herbanmusic: How often do you smoke?

IAMSU: During the pandemic it’s been like every day.

Herbanmusic: Yeah. And how is your experience with cannabis changed over time?

IAMSU: It went from trying to be cool to more therapeutic. Like at first it was just like queued to roll up and take pictures and blow smoke out of videos and stuff. But now it’s more like a more chill about it. It’s just kind of like a part of our process.

Herbanmusic: Awesome. How do you feel about cannabis being deemed an essential business?

IAMSU: I think that’s a good thing. I just hope other people that were like, convicted, or caught up in legal stuff because of it that they rectify those situations. To see it become more widely accepted has its positives.

Herbanmusic: I couldn’t agree more. Let’s just hope it will be entirely legal soon. How does marijuana play an active part in your creative partnerships?

IAMSU: Okay, so, yeah, like that’s like a common ground where a lot of us will do that in a studio. It creates a different energy. I like to work with people who smoke. It makes the vibe cooler. And you can just like have a bond before you make a song, which is important because if you don’t have anything, no common ground, it’s like the sound is going to come out janky.

Herbanmusic: Throughout your career you’ve collaborated with some cannabis industry heavy hitters, such as Berner in particular. How has this played an active role in your career?

IAMSU: Berner and I had the same management, so that’s how we ended up getting around each other. And he just ended up being a super chill, super cool dude. So, he came to our studio and worked with me. Then when we’d be in LA, we’d be there together because like I said, we had the same manager at a point in time. And then once he signed with Wiz Khalifa, and I came on that tour. We were kind of like in the same click for a long time for some years. I have so much love for Berner to this day. He’s a really good guy.

Herbanmusic: Are you planning anything exciting for 2021 and beyond?

IAMSU: I want to get into the industry in the most suitable way. Whether it be through growing my own strain or through partnering up with somebody who has similar interests. And there are collaborations as far as products go like I plan on getting my hands into different spaces like sportswear, whether it be shoes or other apparel. I will definitely come out with merchandise this year and a whole lot of new music.

Herbanmusic: What sort of vibe are you going for with the merchandise? Are you inspired by anyone else’s merch?

IAMSU: I’m inspired by Nigo who started BAPE and then he went on to start Human Made. Nigo, Pharrell, and Walt Disney are probably my main ones. And Michael Jordan, I can’t leave Michael Jordan out.

Herbanmusic: Some good ones. Any positive takeaways from this past year?

IAMSU: The importance of family. Music, it made me grow to love music even more. I didn’t even know that was possible but I love music even now.

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