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From East To West: Tyler Lepley Rises To His First Lead Role On TV One's 'Ringside'

During a press run for the newly released TV One film 'Ringside,' Lepley discusses changing gears on his career.

Life has a funny way of pointing you towards what and where you are destined to be, and in this actor’s case, his dream led him to pursing a career outside of the square we’re sometimes too focused and comfortable in, refusing to venture away from opportunities that’s calling our names.

One would never imagine that the streets of Philadelphia held a young man by the name of Tyler Lepley who knew life had more in store for him. Interested in its physicalities after partaking in several sports growing up, Lepley was mean with the hands and swift with the feet. He knew the 9 to 5 he was working right after college wasn’t where he was destined to be, and in order to receive the change he wanted, he had to get up and go for it.

Moving to what’s known as “the better coast” helped jumpstart the star’s career. You could find him at Glove Works in Santa Monica, Calif., before he made his way to your television every Tuesday night at 9 p.m., after landing a recurring role as Benny on The Have and The Have Nots on OWN. You might have seen him all over your news feed, explore page, and timeline, with almost every woman around the world obsessing over his talented acting skills, built figure, and appealing appearance that’s easy on the eyes, but he continues to stay humble and always references back to his sense of self before the stardom he’s gained.

Being granted the opportunity to showcase his talents on national television, portraying such a complex character, led Lepley towards his first leading role on TV One’s new movie, Ringside, produced by Swirl Films. Written and directed by radio personality Russ Parr, Lepley’s character, Jaxon, is an undefeated boxer that’s preparing to fight against a champion. He treads lightly, swimming around the core issues he faces at home and with his manager on a daily basis, ensuring not to sink in the midst of it all by finding a way to get out of the rut and continue to strive for greatness.

During a press run for the newly released film, Lepley discusses changing gears on his career, his experience working with Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey on The Haves And The Have Nots, and working with Sevyn Streeter on Ringside.

Starting off with your career, you began heading in the route of personal training and you moved from Philly to L.A. to pursue that dream. Why L.A. of all cities?
Tyler Lepley: I didn’t actually start training ‘til I got here. It was actually just something that I kind of fell into. I left Philly and I came to L.A. because I didn’t like my 9-5 job. I wanted something more. I’m a little intellectually curious when it comes to life, and once I graduated I just felt a little bit stuck, almost like I was in a midlife crisis at 23, which makes no sense. The reason I came to L.A. was because I had two cousins that lived here. One of them had worked at the gym. I wasn’t promised a job right then, but it was really just about having that support system. If they were in Florida, I was going to move to Florida, and if they were in Dakota I would’ve moved to Dakota. I just wanted to start something new and it just so happened that this is where a little bit of my support system was.

How did you end up leaving training behind to enter the acting field?
I actually got approached, or you can call it discovered, inside the gym. I moved here and maybe within three months of working at the gym, I grabbed the job, just from being a gym rat, hanging out at my cousin’s gym, probably within a month of moving here. I was working at that gym for about three months and I had someone come into the gym that said I want you to audition for this. I went in and I booked it. But it wasn’t until about two years after that point that I was a full time actor. And I think what makes that domino fall is when you have enough money to actively pursue this full time. When you’re doing work here and there that’s not enough, you know? You have to have a survival job to keep food on the table while you chase the dream. And it wasn’t until I had the volume of work, from a show like The Have and The Have Nots could I actually go ahead and pursue it full time. So that was the determining factor.

Is attending the gym still one of your daily routines?
Yeah, definitely. Absolutely. I think if you want to look a certain type of way, it has to be a staple in your daily routine. But for me, I come from playing football in college and I used to box growing up, so I have lots of scar tissue and my body feels old sometimes so it’s important for me just in terms of my longevity, to stay loose, stay flexible. It’s definitely still a part of my everyday regimen, for sure.

What age did you start boxing?
I actually got into karate first. That’s the first place I ever threw my hands. My dad probably got me started around four or five, and I dibble and dabbled with it, and it wasn’t until I got serious with football and then I got a scholarship for football that it was kind of sitting on the back burner. Just because I had to go to school and I wasn’t getting a scholarship to box, I was getting it to play football. So when I got serious with football is when I hung the gloves up for a while.

Me w the Stunt Coordinator and Fight Choreographer of #Ringside @thebadboyroy @gloveworx @leyonazubuike93

A photo posted by Tyler Lepley (@tylepley) on

What was your first reaction when you heard you landed a recurring role on The Have and The Have Nots with Tyler Perry, and also that you would be airing on Oprah Winfrey’s network?
Well it was crazy. Excited doesn’t even describe it because you have to understand at the time it was Mr. Perry’s first drama series ever and it was Ms. Winfrey’s first scripted series ever. So this was like four years ago. To start off as a series regular, man, it was just like a dream come true. And then now as I look back on it, it was great then when I found out that I was going to have a job and be able to work with these people. But as I been working with them, up until this point, as I look back at it, the biggest lesson that I have was not just a job and being on the TV and stuff like that, which is all great, but to have those types of role models, and to be able to watch Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey in an intimate setting, you can’t even pay for that. I could give all the money in the world and still wouldn’t be able to have access to that. So to be able to have accessibility to greatness is what I really thank God for everyday, because these are trailblazers. Billionaires for crying out loud, just as humble as ever, and it’s a great example of not only how to get there, but how to stay once you get it.

And you and Tyler Perry share the same first name. What is it like being on set with him at the same time? Is someone given a nickname?
(Laughs) Well, well, first of all he’s the rich Tyler. I’m on my way, I’m on my way (Laughs). It’s just so crazy; we laugh at that all the time. It’s not too often you get to drive into a studio and you see your name on the sign. So it’s great, and like I said he’s very personable, he’s very humble, and vulnerable, so we laugh about stuff like that all the time. You know he’s really like, almost like a big brother, molding us and trying to steer us the right way, so it’s really cool to have him around.

Are you surprised by the success of The Have and The Have Nots? It’s completing season six now, plus it’s a scripted television show and it’s really rare that scripted television shows get picked up for multiple seasons now.
You know what, I’m floored by it. It blows me away that the fans tune in. Because I watch the number too, right. So someone at ICM would kick the numbers out, so it would show up in my emails how well the show does. So to see three million people show up for every single week for the last three years, every week when it’s on, even last week we caught another three million. That’s what I’m floored by, the support of the fans. You know it’s a little risqué anytime you see something for the first time, like I mentioned earlier it was his first time doing a drama series, and it was her first time doing a scripted series, so you know there’s always a little worry because you’re doing something for the first time, but at the end of the day, even though I’m floored by the support of the fans, I cant be surprised because these guys, everything they touch turns into gold. I’m trying to learn that blueprint. I’m trying to see how they do it. It’s really exciting.

Plus #BlessUp #HAHN

A photo posted by Tyler Lepley (@tylepley) on

Your work ethic has been really amazing and you’re making your way up to the top. Do you still audition for roles? Or are you automatically casted to play a character now?
No, No, I still audition for roles. Where I’m at right now there are some offers only, there are some things that are only offers, but I still audition. I also like to audition. It’s its own muscle. To go in there, a room full of strangers, and to be able to act like it’s just you and someone else talking. So it really just gives that nervous system and that muscle exercise. It helps you anytime they call action. So sometimes I do, but I still enjoy auditioning.

What was it like working alongside some of the industries biggest talents on Ringside?
It was great. It was exciting. It’s not everyday you have big shots. I remember watching ATL. I saw Sevyn Streeter on the radio the other day with Gucci Mane, and I’ve been a Gucci lover forever. Russ Parr, you’re talking about the radio. Russ Parr does everything. So it’s cool because in my own right, even though I’m the lead I’m coming here learning from everybody, from my co-stars to my director. And it’s great because Russ isn’t like, a dictator. Back when I used to play football, when I had a coach like that who listens to you, we used to call him a players coach. So the way I say that nowadays it’s like Russ is like an active director. He really wants your input. I was excited and I was still learning. It was great, it was a lot of fun for me.

Was Russ the person who approached you with the script?
No. I actually auditioned for this role. I did this one the old fashion way just like I did The Have and The Have Nots. I wouldn’t have it no other way. Because you know you got to see what someone can do. You can watch me on The Have and The Have Nots all you want, or on other shows, but Benny’s not Jaxon, this is a whole different character. I had to go in and do it the old-fashioned way and book the job so it was a lot of fun.

Wrapping up at #TCA discussing #Ringside @beverlyhilton #September4 @tvonetv

A photo posted by Tyler Lepley (@tylepley) on

And Sevyn is a singer so this was her first film ever. Working closely with her, with her playing your sister, how would you say she did for her first movie?
Oh my gosh, Sevyn Streeter did phenomenal. I was blown away when I heard, because I had overheard that it was her first acting job. I would have never thought that because she was just so into it. She was so believable in some of my scenes. I caught her giving me stuff to make me react. She was actually pulling me into some of my scenes. So you see someone like a Sevyn Streeter, that’s when you see someone with natural talent. And to think about it, she’s coming up in this world of entertainment, I’m sure she has a lot of older role models, just like she has Jaxon, that tries to steer her the right way. It’s not all the time that you’re able to tap into that. Sometimes you get so panic by the action you forget about all your life experiences. I was appreciative of her being able to stay in the moment and really draw some of the real feelings out of some of these scenes. Sevyn Streeter was great.

How did the movie come about with you landing the leading role of Jaxon?
I remember when I first went in I was really excited. This is one of the scripts that I had read more than two times. Sometimes I try to read it a few times, like the whole script to get a real feel of what I’m actually doing from start to finish. Normally I would do it twice, maybe three times for any normal audition if I have enough time. Like if it’s tomorrow I’ll be able to read the whole script. So I remember when I read the script at first I was so excited to go in that it almost threw me off. I was just so excited about the project. That’s like a dream role for me. Not only because of the boxing, but to be that caretaker, to be so rough into it. And Jaxon is a really dynamic character. So even for my acting chops I just wanted to do it. So I went in on the audition and then I had like about a week in between the final directing section with Russ Parr. In between that week it was great because I had enough time to really get into it. I started really getting back into the boxing, in terms of like sparing, and just really reading. I read the script like maybe six times. It just really helped me for the final directing session. I just had to get Jaxon down by the final time I went in there. That’s kind of how it went. That old fashion, hard work, and it was a lot of fun when the director called action. It was dope.

Tell me a little bit about the character of Jaxon and what went into preparing to play a boxer?
First of all, you got to have all the physicality down pat. It has got to be not just good, it’s got to be real. It’s got to be authentic. When Floyd Mayweather or Mike Tyson walks around, you can tell they’re a boxer just by them walking in a room. You know what I mean? It’s more than just throwing a punch. It’s very physically demanding in terms of being disciplined to bring the physicality of life. Because if you step in that ring and do the wrong thing you affect the whole movie. It’s not only a role but this is a boxing movie. It has to be real. Then as a actor, someone with dynamic as Jaxon, you gotta give yourself permission to feel all those things. I remember hearing one scene, and I remember doing some of my background work, like Jaxon, Selita, and TC, their parents died when they were really young. It was a very unprepared situation. It’s one of the first scenes in the movie that they talk about. Jaxon, he’s a caretaker, but he was kind of thrust into the dynamics. You know, at six, you don’t want to be daddy. You want to go to senior prom and you want to be reckless, and you want to grow up. So there’s a strong dynamic of him taking care of everyone but not necessarily wanting to. He’s just that good of a man that he has a lot to overcome when he does that. So it’s just like a lot of dynamic intricacies with a character like Jaxon. Or balancing having to give everybody else what they need with taking care of yourself as you go into this life altering, middleweight championship that has the ability to affect everybody. Not only could Jaxon go get killed inside that ring, but the same people he might not want to take care of when he wants to be reckless and free like everyone else, it can affect all these people. So there’s just so many push and pulls, and so many tug of wars with a character that’s as dynamic and as deep and multi complex as Jaxon Holley. So it was a lot of fun but it was necessary, and I think it turned out great.

Official Weigh In #Ringside

A photo posted by Tyler Lepley (@tylepley) on

And it’s a real life drama. I saw the trailer and it’s crazy how the character of Benny on The Have and The Have Nots is a little similar to Jaxon in the movie because you try to hold it all together in the midst of all the family life drama. Do you enjoy taking on such complex roles?
I really do because I feel like it’s such a mirror of my own life. My life is so complex, yeah sometimes it’s bad, but even bad experiences you can learn from. I’ve had so many things that started out as lemon and now I’m drinking lemonade. I love playing complex characters like that because it’s just so much to draw from and they’re real. No villain is always bad and no good guy is always good. You know what I mean? There’s always a ying to the yang, so I look for characters like that. I definitely enjoy them.

Can you remember one experience in life that you can really relate to the character of Jaxon?
I can remember whether it were school. I have lots of instances where I can just remember people trying to steer me. I’m the driver of the ship and I can just remember having lots of outside pressure to do something in my life that someone else may have done in their life. It may have been learning from their experiences, but at the end of the day I have to live my life and do things my way. I’ve had lots of situations like that. Whether it was good or bad, it was just outside things I had to block out in order to succeed and opportunities I had in front of me. Everyone and their mother said do not move to Los Angeles, you are crazy. But I had to do that for myself. It’s just like there’s lots of outside pressures for Jaxon, whether it’s his manager trying to squeeze more money out of him, whether it’s his brother trying to squeeze more money outta him, whether it’s a career that might not be going the best way, whether his blessing for a promiscuous sister. It’s just so much outside circumstances that affect him that he has to end up blocking out because he’s going into a very serious situation and a big opportunity. I’ve had that in life for sure.

Jaxon also meets a female who captures his heart and she’s hiding a secret from him. So how are you, Tyler Lepley, handling fame and the groupies? Because Tyler’s everyone’s man crush Monday, you name it.
(Laughs) I don’t have groupies, not at all. But I think the way to deal with it is almost like going back to that unwavering sense of self. I don’t really put myself in those types of situations really. It doesn’t mean I’m not acceptable to them, but I’ve got a pretty good screening process. It’s not like you have to jump through hoola hoops, (Laughs) but I got good intuition also. I can kind of tell in 10 minutes where this is going. If it’s dangerous, it might just be like a dangerous, fun encounter. There’s a ying to the yang. It’s just fun and cool. If you’re going to do it, just understand what it is. And whatever it is for you. I think to wrap that answer up; the way I deal with all the outside pressures is to go back to who I am. And that’s why you know I’ve been blessed to have never been in a crazy situation yet, because I just go back to, again, my sense of self. And everything and everyone around me reflects that as well.

#Ringside @tvonetv

A photo posted by Tyler Lepley (@tylepley) on

What’s your dream role that you have yet to accomplish that you would like to play in the near future?
Something that I haven’t done before. That’s as specific as I can get. I just like roles that can challenge me; something that’s really going to intrigue me and stretch a muscle that I’ve never used before. So I really look for roles like that. And outside of that, I guess something I’ve always wanted to do as a kid, I always wanted to do a big action movie. I come from sports and I come from a very physical world so I would like to do that also. And that’s why I was happy about doing this role too. I got to bring some of the physicality to it. So definitely stuff like that.

Are you currently working on any other projects that you would like to share?
Right now I actually just got back from shooting the latest season of The Have and The Have Nots. Just got back from ATL. It was dope. What we just shot will air at the top of 2017, so you guys will see that at the top of next year. Right now I’m just busy plugging away this Ringside man. I’m so excited for everybody to see what’s going on, on TV One at 7 o’ clock on the fourth. It’s going to be a lot of fun. And then in the meantime you know just steady working on myself. Going to therapy, I go to my voice lessons, I go to my acting coach, and I plug away day by day, inch by inch, to give in top-notch efforts.

Ringside premieres on TV One at 7 p.m. EST on Sept. 4.

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Issa Vibe: The Best Songs To Fit Your Different 4/20 Sessions

April 20th isn’t a national holiday, but it might as well be.

Although recreational marijuana use is only legal in 10 states, the U.S. is home to approximately 35 million regular users of cannabis, according to a survey done by Yahoo News and Marist University. That's 10.6 percent of the American population and while that may seem minuscule, the numbers are growing daily and it's understandable.

Weed has now become a staple of American culture; it's become a legitimate business in the states where it's legal, it's now part of the way people socialize, and better yet it's a theme in some of the hottest music out today. "Kush" has been included in some of the hardest verses that millennials and generation-z kids have heard in their lifetime.

Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg, amazing emcees in their own right, are also widely known for their love of the green plant. Wiz's biggest album, Rolling Papers is clearly influenced by weed and along with the Snoop Dogg-assisted "Young, Wild & Free" is all about that green positivity.

There's an endless list of hits about rolling up a joint, hitting it and passing it, but what about moods? Whether it's a bowl, a blunt or an edible weed, can leave people feeling a variety of ways and that all can be traced to a certain strand of weed someone's inhaling, or the mood they're already.

Regardless, it's important to be prepared and have music ready to match whatever feelings marijuana concocts; and that's why VIBE compiled an adequate list of songs for each of the main pot moods.

So on this 4/20, sit back, relax, smoke and find the songs that suit the vibe.


The "Let Me Chill Out" Mood 

Sometimes the best way to come down from an over the top high is to play some tunes with a soft beat and a light voice. The best artists in the game right now, like Jhené Aiko for instance, have created that sound that's perfect for when relaxation is needed, so of course, she made the list.  These are the top four songs that can help anyone kick back and relax if a pull from a joint just isn't hitting the right way.

"Blue Dream" by Jhené Aiko "Muse" by Afro Nostalgia "Summer Games" by Drake "LOVE." by Kendrick Lamar (feat. Zacari) The Bad B*tch Hours or "Top Two and I'm Not Two" Mood 

You look around the room and realize: you're top two and you're not two in it. All it took was one or a couple of puffs and then a pass to make you feel pretty good about yourself. One of the main upsides to smoking that's constantly mentioned in the media is that it can help alleviate chronic pain, well, another positive to it is that it can leave you feeling sexy, sensual and everything in between.

This is that high that can make you feel that you're significant other is lucky to have you, and subsequently makes you hit them up, that tells you: you're single and ready to mingle. It's a smoking session that lets you know: if you shoot your shot now, you'll score and it's a session that you want music playing that only affirms how sultry and seductive you feel. If this is how 4/20 leaves you feeling, putting on some RiRi or even Young Thug can effectively get you 'in your bag.'

"Same Ol' Mistakes" by Rihanna "Tyrant" by Kali Uchis (feat. Jorja Smith) "Worth It" by Young Thug "Smoke Break" by Chance the Rapper (feat. Future) The "Head in the Clouds" Mood 

More often than not, edibles have the power of leaving people spaced out and speaking slowly, after consuming them. Sometimes smoking weed, or hotboxing with friends is a silent event. Either everyone's consumed by their phones, or every other person has been looking at a nonexistent spot on the wall for the past 15 minutes.

Regardless this isn't the high where people want to hear "Act Up" by City Girls, no matter how much they love them. No, this is the high where people need music that takes them on a journey. Songs where the production is out of this world and it seems like the artist specifically made the song for a smoke session like no other. Travis Scott's ASTROWORLD is full of tracks with that vibe, and Lil' Wayne, a weed connoisseur of his own, has songs that fulfill that need too. Smoke a bit and let the weed do its thing.

"ASTROTHUNDER" by Travis Scott "I Feel Like Dying" by Lil' Wayne "Hyyer" by Kid Cudi "St. Tropez" by J. Cole The "Got the Giggles" Mood 

This is when the blunt hits perfectly and there's nothing wrong in the world or when the bowl did its' job and leaves everyone feeling silly. A "feel good high" is the best way to describe and the best way to live through that kind of smoke session is to listen to some "feel good music." These are the songs that can have people swaying unknowingly to its' beat, or the tracks that leave people smiling from ear to ear. This is the session that lets people know that "this is it chief," and here are the best songs to go along with it.

"Pass the Vibes" by Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment "Dreamcatcher" by Metro Boomin' (feat. Swae Lee & Travis Scott) "It's a Vibe" by 2 Chainz (feat. Ty Dolla $ign, Trey Songz & Jhené Aiko) "Binz" by Solange
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4/20: A VIBE-Era Timeline Of Hip-Hop's Relationship With Cigars And Rolling Papers

Hip-hop's relationship with Mary Jane has always been a beloved one. From song from artists like Styles P, Curren$y and Snoop Dogg, laying back and enjoying nature's herbs is a coveted pastime in the game.

But we wouldn't be able to enjoy it all without the inclusion of cigars and rolling papers. Sure, we have vapes and other creative ways to reach aerial heights, but the OG accessories bring a different element to the table. The herb holiday might be a perfect time for enthusiasts to light one in the air, but VIBE was inspired to pay homage to hip-hop's love for the preroll.

Only keeping the VIBE-era in mind (starting from 1992), we analyzed companies like Swisher Sweets, Phillies and more, along with its ambassadors throughout the game like Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill and Wiz Khalifa.

Enjoy the brief timeline of Hip-Hop's relationship with cigars and rolling papers below.

Made with Visme Infographic Maker

___ 1. Zig Zag


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A post shared by Zig-Zag World (@zigzagworld) on Apr 15, 2019 at 1:06pm PDT

Established Since 1855

Peak Years of Popularity (In Hip Hop): 1992-1996 / 2009-2013

Most Popular in California

Top Ambassadors: Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y, Juicy J

In 1988, N.W.A. founder Eazy-E established Zig Zag as the official rolling paper for west-coasters after referencing the brand on a song from his solo debut, Eazy-Duz-It. In subsequent years, Zig Zag would appear on songs from legends like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, and B-Real, resulting in the brand becoming synonymous with the west coast.

The decline in west coast rap's popularity during the latter half of the '90s would result in a decreased amount of nods to Zig Zag within hip-hop, as other brands continued to dominate the conversation. In 2009, Zig Zag's standing among rap fans would receive a jolt when Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y teamed up for their collaborative mixtape How Fly, which included numerous references to the brand. However, as other brands of rolling papers began to dominate the market, Zig Zag's approval rating faltered slightly, but continues to transcend generations and will forever be remembered as the O.G. smokers utensil.

2. E-Z Wider

Established Since 1972

Peak Years of Popularity (In Hip Hop): 1992-1996 / 2008-2011

Most Popular in New York

Top Ambassadors: Wiz Khalifa, Chris Webby

The east coast's affinity for blunts is well-documented, but for a brief period during the '90s, EZ-Wider became the alternative for a select group of rappers out of New York City. Introduced into to hip-hop lexicon by A Tribe Called Quest member Phife Dawg on "Scenario (Demo 2)," EZ-Wider enjoyed a short run among smokers in the hip-hop community before losing its luster by the mid-'90s.

After more than a decade of sporadic mentions in rap songs, EZ-Wider made a comeback. This was largely on the strength of rappers like Wiz Khalifa, who brought the brand back to prominence in the late aughts during his transition from rolling cigars to smoking using paper. Over the past decade, EZ-Wider's popularity has been eclipsed by competing brands in the market, but its place within hip-hop history is secure.

3. Phillies Cigars (Known as Phillie Blunts)


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A post shared by Phillies Cigars & Tobacco Fans (@philliescigars) on Oct 7, 2018 at 1:19pm PDT

Established Since 1910

Peak Years of Popularity (In Hip Hop): 1992-1999

Most Popular in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Atlanta

Top Ambassadors: Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Redman, Big Pun, Big Boi, N.O.R.E., Big L

The first cigar to truly reign supreme in hip-hop is the Phillie blunt with a history that runs deep. Referenced as early as 1989, the Phillie came to prominence during the early '90s, with rappers like Redman, Nas, and The Notorious B.I.G. becoming unofficial ambassadors of the brand.

Found in some of the most memorable rap songs of all-time, the Phillie blunt was the cigar of choice on the east coast but began to spread to regions like the south and midwest, with artists like Big Boi of Outkast, and Twista singing its praises. By the end of the '90s, the popularity of the Phillie blunt began to wane, and while it still receives the occasional mention for nostalgic purposes, has never regained its stature as the go-to cigar in hip-hop.

4. Swisher Sweets

Established Since 1959

Peak Years of Popularity (In Hip Hop): 1993-Present

Most Popular in California, Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, Louisiana

Top Ambassadors: Three 6 Mafia, UGK, 8Ball & MJG, Scarface, Kid Ink, Lil Wayne, Freddie Gibbs, Gucci Mane, Wiz Khalifa, The Game, Lil Durk, Fat Trel, Ab-Soul, YG, Danny Brown, Fredo Santana, Machine Gun Kelly, Wale, Mac Miller, G-Eazy, G Herbo, Kevin Gates, Jeezy, 21 Savage

During the early '90s, Swisher Sweets emerged as the cigar brand of choice among marijuana enthusiasts in the south and western regions of the country. Since as early as 1993, when rap group Souls of Mischief helped put the brand on the map, Swisher Sweets cigars have become a staple in hip-hop, maintaining their popularity for the better part of a quarter century.

Over the years, Swisher Sweets has been name-dropped in songs by rappers from all corners of the country, but rap legends UGK and Three 6 Mafia were among the brand's most fervent supporters. Today, artists like Gucci Mane and Lil Yachty continue to keep Swisher Sweet in the public consciousness and recognized as one of the legacy smoking utensils in hip-hop culture

5. White Owl Cigarillos


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A post shared by Gotham Cigars (@gothamcigars) on Sep 9, 2014 at 8:29am PDT

Established Since 1887

Peak Years of Popularity (In Hip Hop): 1993-1997

Most Popular in New York

Top Ambassadors: Wu-Tang Clan

One cigar that caught traction among marijuana aficionados during the early-mid '90s was the White Owl, which became one of the leading brands on the east coast at its peak. Initially popping up on the rap radar via a mention by Gang Starr member Guru in 1992, White Owl would be championed by a number of rap artists out of New York. One act that helped solidify White Owl's standing within hip-hop culture was the Wu-Tang Clan, as numerous members of the Staten Island-based collective paid homage to the brand until its sudden decrease in popularity during the latter half of the decade.

6. Optimo


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A post shared by | Cigars (@optimocigars) on Feb 24, 2019 at 5:02pm PST

Established Since 1898

Peak Years of Popularity (In Hip Hop): 1997-2001

Most Popular in Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee

Top Ambassador: Juicy J

The Notorious B.I.G. may have immortalized the brand after referencing their cigars on his hit single "Big Poppa," but Optimo's lineage in hip-hop can be actually traced back to the southern region of the country. As rap acts out of the south began to reach a national audience during the latter half of the '90s, Optimo's approval rating skyrocketed as well, quickly becoming the cigar of choice for many of the region's star talent.

This particularly proved true in states like Texas, Louisiana, and Tennessee, where Optimo was considered king among blunt smokers and mentioned at a seemingly constant clip. Optimo cigars are not as prominent in rap lyrics as they once were, but remain a legacy brand in the south and have earned their rightful place in the annals of hip-hop history.

7. Garcia Y Vega


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A post shared by Garcia Y Vega 1882 Cigars (@1882_backwoods) on Jun 22, 2015 at 10:57am PDT

Established Since 1882

Peak Years of Popularity (In Hip Hop):1995-2001

Most Popular in New York, California

Top Ambassador: JT tha Bigga Figga

One cigar brand that had a brief, but noteworthy run within hip-hop was Garcia Y Vega, which was touted by various rap artists on the east coast in beyond. Finding its way into a rap song as early as 1994, the popularity of the Garcia Y Vega cigar was largely relegated to the east coast during its peak years in the latter half of the '90s.

The brand's popularity reached all the way to California, where rappers like JT the Bigga Figga helped give Garcia Y Vega its cultural clout. Today, a Garcia Y Vega cigar is largely considered a relic, but its recognition within the hip-hop community as one of the defining brands for blunt-gut spillers is well-deserved.

8. Dutch Masters Cigars


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A post shared by Russian Cream (@dutchmasterscigars) on Apr 15, 2019 at 5:31pm PDT

Established Since 1911

Peak Years of Popularity (In Hip Hop): 1996-2008

Most Popular in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia

Top Ambassadors: Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, The Lox

In terms of sheer dominance of the market, Dutch Masters was once at the top of the list of cigars among marijuana smokers. Introduced by members of the Wu-Tang Clan during the group's rise to power, Dutch Masters would quickly catch on with fellow New Yorkers, including like-minded rap acts Mobb Deep and The LOX.

By the time the smoke from the cigar wars of the '90s cleared, Dutch Masters was the clear victor, as the brand extended its dominance into the next decade. While Dutch Masters' stronghold on the lungs of rap artists and fans alike began to dissipate by the end of the aughts, the brand still receives nods til this day and remains the go-to cigar within the hip-hop community.

9. Backwoods Smokes


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Rate these 1-10 and why? #exoticbackwoods

A post shared by Backwoods Cigars (@backwoods_cigars) on Mar 26, 2019 at 3:41pm PDT

Established Since 1973

Peak Years of Popularity (In Hip Hop): 1998-2005, 2013-Present

Most Popular in New York, Philadelphia, California, Texas, Atlanta

Top Ambassadors: Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Mac Dre, Travis Scott, Lil Yachty,

One cigar that has transcended regions and managed to sustain its standing among marijuana smokers is the Backwood, which has a history that is as rich as any brand in hip-hop. Referenced in a rap lyric as far back as 1994, by the turn of the century, Backwoods saw a spike in popularity, with rappers from the east coast and west coasts singing its praises.

After finding equal footing with the competing cigar brands at the time, Backwoods' visibility within rap dipped during the latter half of the aughts, before returning to prominence the next decade. This was due in large part to the influx of a new generation of rap stars gravitating to the brand, resulting in it regaining its reputation as the unofficial cigar of hip-hop as of 2019 and moving forward.

10. RAW Rolling Papers


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A few cones a day.. : @ganjawitness #rawlife #natural #rollingpapers #alcoyspain #rawpapersovereverything

A post shared by RAW Rolling Papers (@rawlife247) on Feb 10, 2019 at 5:10pm PST

Established Since 2005

Peak Years of Popularity (In Hip Hop): 2012-Present

Most Popular in North America

Top Ambassadors: Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y, 2 Chainz, Mick Jenkins, Chris Webby, Z-Ro, Futuristic

As the new kid on the block, RAW Rolling Papers may lack the rich history of other brands in the market, however, its place as the current smoking utensil of choice in hip-hop cannot be denied.

Establishing itself right in time for the cultural gravitation to rolling papers during the late aughts, RAW Rolling Papers capitalized on early cosigns from marijuana mavens like Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y to infiltrate the culture. With about a decade since its first mention in a rap song, RAW Papers have become a cultural institution in their own right, partnering with various rap artists and connecting the dots between hip-hop, culture, and marijuana.

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Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are thebomb.com for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

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