Vic Mensa Ignites The Cannabis Industry With Launch of Black-Owned '93 Boyz'
Vic Mensa's artistry has always placed activism and equality at the forefront. Now the artist continues to build upon his philanthropic efforts with the announcement of 93 Boyz, a new cannabis company that makes history as the first Black-owned and led brand in Illinois.
The mission behind the brand hits home for the co-owners Mensa (a Chicago native) and Preston Oshita, also known as rapper Towkio. According to a press release, 93 Boyz aims to be "a reinvestment in the communities and individuals that have been historically and disproportionately affected by outdated laws, prejudices, and assumptions regarding cannabis consumption, elevating the underserved while also lifting spirits via the headiest product available in the state."
In true Mensa nature, the brand doesn't just solely serve for consumers' enjoyment. 93 Boyz will also be establishing community-based initiatives including Books Before Bars, a program dedicated to providing books to underserved Illinois prison libraries, providing inmates with potentially transformative resources.
Mensa explains ""The Books Before Bars program is sending select literary titles into Illinois jails and prisons in collaboration with a Chicago-based and Black-owned bookstore called Semicolon, the intention being to use literature to bring mental freedom to those who are physically incarcerated."
The program is the first insight to 93 Boyz' goal to target the ongoing issue of mass incarceration in Black communities caused by laws fueled by marginalization that surrounds cannabis in America.
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"With the lack of federal legalization, cannabis has been and remains a hyper-local game; our locality being Chicago, and Illinois at large. And the fact is that in Illinois we happen to have been the first black-owned brand to market, I believe this is a critical piece of what sets us apart," Mensa says of 93 Boyz.
"Our design narrative is younger and fresher than what exists in our state, and our company is built around the ethos of reinvesting into our community, something I haven't seen yet in a cannabis company."
While the cannabis industry is thriving more than ever, there are still stigmas that owners -- especially Black entrepreneurs like Mensa -- have to face that are historically rooted in the country's racial inequities. "There needs to be a mass release of people who are still incarcerated for cannabis offenses. Free Allen Russell, a man in Mississippi who was sentenced to life in prison in just 2019 for an ounce of weed, it's ridiculous," Mensa says.
As Mensa's brand continues to grow, he plans to release his next album and focus on organizing the Black Star Line Festival alongside frequent collaborator Chance The Rapper that will take place in Accra, Ghana next January. The artist's latest project was February's Vino Valentino EP, and he released his debut studio album The Autobiography in 2017.