CJ Wallace, Son Of The Notorious B.I.G., Talks About His New Cannabis Brand Honoring His Father
It’s been roughly 22 years since the death of Christopher Wallace, better know as the “Notorious B.I.G.” or “Biggie Smalls” was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. Now a few days before the 22nd anniversary of his death in 1997, his son CJ is launching a new cannabis brand to honor his father.
Wallace developed the brand, Think BIG, alongside his stepfather, music executive Todd Russaw and entrepreneur Willie Mack.
“CJ and I met in the summer of 2018; he came to me as a client because he wanted to start a cannabis company. I really wasn’t interested in doing another “celebrity” cannabis brand. I loved his father and grew up on his music, but I wanted to know what CJ wanted to do–what were his hopes, dreams, and passions,” says Mack. “Think BIG is a culmination of CJ, Todd, and my personal and professional dreams for the future. We are taking our time to build Think BIG not just as a brand, but as a legacy.”
The brand’s first launch, Frank White, will be available starting April in limited-edition top-shelf flower, pre-rolls, vapes, gummies, apparel, pens, pencils, journals, sketch pads, and content, all with the intent on inspiring creativity. The name is one of CJ’s dad’s aliases.
Beyond just a cannabis brand, Think BIG also hopes to work on criminal justice reform in the cannabis space as well as charitable projects.
“Our challenge to the world is to first think bigger about your place in it. The rise of social justice movements like BLM, LGBTQ+ rights, and the fight for socially equitable democracies around the world is rising and cannabis is a big part of that conversation,” says Mack. “I have been in the cannabis industry for over four years now and it is one of the fastest growing industries globally for a reason, because it touches every part of society; legal, finance, banking, creativity, art, design, legal, politics, education, science, beauty, cosmetics, agriculture, climate change! These two plants, cannabis and hemp, are going to change and maybe save the world.”
Products will be sold on the company’s website, which launched last week, as well as pop-up stores and select retail locations.
I chatted with CJ briefly about his father and how the brand and its first product came together:
What is the motivation behind launching Think BIG?
CJ: The brand really started when I was in Atlanta filming the TV show Scream. My dad, Todd Russaw, was with me, and he asked me what I wanted to do once we got back to LA–if I wanted to keep pursuing acting or if there was anything else I wanted to do. He mentioned that it would be a great idea if I got into cannabis, because he saw how much the industry was changing and how I use it in my everyday life and what importance it has to me.
How did it all come together?
CJ: I wasn’t immediately into the idea because I didn’t want to make another “Biggie” brand or a “Biggie cannabis” brand. So I put it on the back burner while still wondering how I can do something different. Fast forward to the summer of 2018 when I was introduced to Willie Mack, and creative ideas started flowing. I knew I ultimately wanted to start something that was rethinking cannabis. Willie helped me find, hone, and develop those creative ideas into Think BIG.
How has cannabis helped you reconnect with your father?
CJ: In terms of legacy, I’ve always been curious about who Christopher George Latore Wallace really was. My second dad, Todd, has always instilled in me to make sure that I carry on the legacy in my own unique way, and that–because my name holds weight–I can’t do anything half-assed. I have to do my best.
Growing up, my sister and I were always told we’ll one day have the responsibility to carry our father’s legacy on. But I didn’t really know who my dad was until I got older. Before it was really just the rapper perception that everybody knew. As a child, all I heard was “your dad sold drugs,” “your dad was in and out of jail.”
The public perception of him was this bad guy, but deep down he was a great human, had an incredible ear, cared about his friends, his mom, his wife, his girlfriends, his daughter, his son! He cared about everybody around him, to the point where he was taking care of so many people.
Being on set for Notorious forced me to learn more about him and understand who he was, not as a legend, but as a man, son, father, friend, etc. My curiosity for who my father truly was started after I portrayed him.
Speaking to my mom, grandma, my dad’s family, and friends, I learned a lot more about him and myself. I started to see and understand the things we share: behaviors, mannerisms, temperament. And our love for cannabis. Both of my parents used it while making music, it was a key part of their creative processes–helping them unlock their creativity, artistry and signature flow.
I am going through some of the same things he went through at the same age, and our lives are paralleling in so many ways, it’s kind of crazy.
What do you think he would think of the brand?
CJ: I think he’d be surprised by Think BIG because it’s so outside of the box, he’d think “Holy shit, CJ is doing some magic work here!” I believe both mom and dad are going to be really thrown off and don’t think they are expecting this. This is real legacy building for me and my dads. Ultimately I feel like he’d be really proud especially of how much positivity we are driving to normalize cannabis and finally reverse the stigma around it.
I think just being part of the industry would be a high priority for him. He would definitely have been an early adopter – fighting for legalization. And being able to talk to my grandma about it in a regular way would be huge for him. I think he’d be really happy.
Tell me about Frank White. How was it developed?
CJ: Frank White stands for complete creativity. My parents used cannabis in their regular daily life; in the studio, to medicate, to relieve stress, but most importantly for their creative expression. Growing up and seeing so much creative talent in and out of our house, from Pharrell to Missy, and witnessing all this genius and the creative work that was being crafted in the studio, I felt the energy and all the incredible vibes that were there. Cannabis was important for my mom, and it was important for my father, so that was enough proof for me to know cannabis is a real tool for creative expression.
In his short life, my dad created so many amazing worlds in his stories, albums, and videos. If he was alive today we would be writing scripts, making TV, movies and creating unimaginable worlds and stories. I can’t even begin to imagine what he would have written, and the funny thing is he didn’t write his lyrics down–he just came up with them in the moment. His flow was unlike anyone else in Hip Hop.
This article originally appeared in Forbes.