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Meet Xavier Omär: The Crooner Putting Respect For Women Back At The Forefront Of R&B

Get familiar. 

Xavier Omär, wasn't supposed to be a singer. Let him tell it, spitting hot 16's with ease were the cards to be dealt for him. But here we are, on a balmy Saturday night in Miami, sitting in a chilled nightclub-turned-green room. Tonight, Omär's name is sandwiched between AlunaGeorge and Steven A. Clark's for Red Bull Sound Select's inaugural 3 Days in Miami showcase where he'll take center stage for a serenading session.

In just a matter of years, Omär, who many may have known as SPZRKT once upon a time, has taken his rare breed of R&B talents from his San Antonio bedroom to the internet to hundreds of unsuspecting individuals who learn about his undeniable artistry with when he steps foot on a stage. "I didn’t have anything when I started," Omär recalls. "My intention when I first made music was to just put it out in places and hope somebody would recognize and know it was me."

Today, the singer-songwriter has caught the attention of not only Red Bull's artist development program but indie label/creative crew Soulection with his sound that in one moment flips rhythm and blues on its head with elements of pop and jazz and breathes new life into an ever-evolving genre.

Here, Omär speaks with VIBE on his musically-inclined upbringing, the honesty and respect for women he's bringing back to R&B, coming into his own as an artist and more.

VIBE: How'd you get into music? 
Xavier Omär: My family actually sparked my interest in music - everyone is really, really talented. My dad and my brother, they both played bass guitar and piano was their main thing. They both produce. They both write. And they also play drums. My sister is this mega soprano. Matter fact, she’s on tour with one of the top gospel artists right now. And my mom, she did opera in college, like full out opera. So I was always around it. I played drums, but I didn’t really sing or write or anything like that. It wasn’t until I was 12. When my brother was in high school he had a three-man group, and he was producing. I just wanted to be like my brother. I decided to go just for it. Back then I was a rapper and did production for a little bit. I didn't really focus in on singing until I was 21. I’m 26 now. But being in that family, there’s just no way you weren’t going to be musically talented. So I really took it upon myself to not be the oddball, the non-great musical person in the family.

So, having such a musically-inclined family, what kind of music was on repeat? 
I was with my mom the most growing up so it was always gospel. I don’t think she plays anything but gospel still. It’s always some Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin. So yeah, I didn’t hear a lot of diverse music growing up, which is weird because I’m extremely diverse now.

That's really interesting since your sound is so diverse. I'm interested in what your first CD you bought with your own money was. 
Bow Wow's Doggy Bag. I can't even remember how old I was but that was it. The first one I ever bought, my own money, tried to hide it from my mom and everything. I didn't want her to find it so I hid the case and just put the CD in my pocket when I was trying to listen to it. Eventually it just broke because I forgot it was in my pocket [laughs].

I feel like we don't give Bow Wow the credit he deserves.
He was a kid rapper and I was trying to be a kid rapper, too. So it was like, he was the dream that I wanted and it was the realization that it was possible, at least to me. Now, obviously people helping him write and all that. I didn’t know that. I was thinking my bars is fire. This is going to happen for me. I used to think I was going to be famous within two or three years of me starting my music. I was going to be a child star rapper. And there was nothing you could tell me because Bow Wow did it. And then there’s Romeo and then Corey. And Sammy was singing. I was like oh, it’s happening for me. So Bow Wow, he gave I think a lot of us who were starting music young, he gave us that confidence that we could do it.

Creating music is such a vulnerable thing so confidence is definitely a must. What made you give singing a try? 
I mean, I would sing here and there because I could, but it just wasn’t something I loved. In middle school, I had been going around trying to make my name in the school as a rapper. I was producing at that time, too, and I would bring cassette tapes of my beats recorded and have people listen. I ended up hearing about this dude at school who was rapping and started making beats for him. He ended up doing the school's talent show and the song he was going to perform had a chorus in it. I was like, ‘Yo, you should just sing that.’ He was like, ‘I can’t sing.’ So I did it. That was the first time I sang in front of a lot of people. From there, the chorus teacher tracked me down. I didn't really want to sing but she was like, 'You can sing. You need to be in chorus for us.’ Realizing that it was probably the easiest A of my life, I just did it. I had to do an audition, and I sang “Happy Birthday.” That kept me into singing. By the time I got to high school, I had a little group and would sing choruses on some songs, but I was fully dedicated to being a rapper. Once the group broke up, I did a solo song and people kept telling me how much they loved it. I figured I should try singing.

Let's get into your sound. Earlier I mentioned how diverse your sound is, but can you explain it for those that may have yet received their blessing just yet. 
Ah, man. The sound itself, it is completely difficult to describe, but just know that it’s always rooted in R&B. That's always going to be the foundation. But you’re going to hear elements of almost anything after that from gospel to pop to soul. In the past, you may even hear elements of country here and there. You’ll hear elements of rock because of the powerful vocals. But R&B is always the root. I actually try not to push outside of what that genre allows, too. That genre to me, is one of the most expansive genres. Erykah Badu, her early beginnings, you could say that was soul or neo soul, but in a lot of ways, that was R&B too. You can also fast forward now to Beyoncé and all of what she’s doing, and that’s still R&B. Even Frank Ocean is doing R&B, and those are all completely different sounds, but it still works within the constructs of the genre. So I try to touch a lot of those areas. I think that’s just the best way to really describe it.

What do you think you bring to the genre that it may be void of right now?
I think there’s a lot of honesty and a lot of respect, respect for women number one [in my music]. A lot of our favorite songs, when you look at it, it’s really misogynistic. It’s difficult to play that around if I had a niece or if I had a daughter. It’s weird because it’s enjoyable music. But it’s also not what I would want them to grow up hearing. So I think my difference is very much respect that I have for women, really making that a focus point because it’s just something I believe. If I’m a woman or whatever the role or position may be, I just think that respect should be equal. But I also don’t want to listen to music that’s saying how all men are dogs.  So from that standpoint, I shouldn’t be making music that has women being b***h and hoes and whatever it might be. So I’m just trying to make music that I wholeheartedly believe in and something that I know people can play for anyone. You could play for your kid, you could play for yourself, and everybody just be lifted.

So many people may actually know you as SPZRKT (Spazzy Rocket), which is the name you were going by for awhile Why the change to your actual name? Was it symbolic of anything? 
Growth in my own self number one. A lot of people wouldn’t notice if you haven’t seen me live, but Spazzy was almost like a character. The message in my writing is the same, but the look and feel of Spazzy was drastically different. I was wearing heavy draped clothing. I’m really an introvert, so a lot of that was built around Spazzy as a character. The fact that you couldn’t just simply read the name and say it. I didn't like taking pictures. I still don’t like them, but I didn’t take them a lot then. All those things were walls. So I'm just becoming my own self, Xavier Omar. Being my own full, free self, taking much more photos, having much more fun with people. And this allows me to be seen as myself instead of this character that I have to live up to for myself. And it works in business as well. Just the opportunity for people to look at a name and know how to say it. They know immediately. And we’ve seen a lot of great opportunity already. Like a month after we did the name change, we had a great opportunity. And I’m really glad it happened for this event. It was in time for this event because seeing Xavier Omar, seeing my name on some posters and stuff is really cool. And I just don’t know how I would’ve felt seeing Spazzy Rocket all downtown, people not being able to say it, and misspelling it online, and all this ridiculous stuff. So it made things a lot simpler and it made things better for the future of my career and I’m just able to be myself.

I know a lot of day one fans probably respect you for that because many artists today are shrouded in mystery to the point you can't necessarily connect with them, no matter how much you like their music.
Yeah, it was one of those things where it was just kind of time to just do something different, something more. I knew if I wanted to go further in my career, if I wanted to connect with more people, I had to get out of this shell I created. I think letting go of the name was a big piece of that as well. I played Afropunk recently and that was probably the most photos I’ve ever taken in a day ever. I wouldn't have done that in the past. It would’ve been like say thanks, leave, get some water, say what’s up to everybody in the back, and chill. But that was very different for me in a good way. It was very important that I took the time to go talk to people, to hear their stories if they had some, take some photos if they wanted one. And it's not only for me but to just be hope, so they could know this is a person, this is somebody who cares, and this is the position that they can be in one day.

I got to catch your set at Afropunk where you played on the Soulection stage. How'd you build a relationship with them?
Soulection is definitely my family and my friends, just not officially signed the paper work and things like that. They helped me tremendously to come up online. I had my first L.A. show because of them. One of my first outdoor shows was because of them. And then Afropunk, my first big festival, I’m on the Soulection stage. Every step of the way of my career, they’ve been there, whether it's Sango, Esta, Joe Kay. They’re always there for me.

That has to be really dope since their whole movement is catching momentum. I'm sure it also helps to have an influx of supportive, creative individuals around.
I didn’t have anything when I started. My intention when I first made music was to just put it out in places and hope somebody would recognize and know it was me. That was my sole intention for my first project. There were a couple of people who hit me up from that project, and the people that they knew started helping me. It just snowballed into where I am right now. The whole Soulection thing happened because Sango found my music online. On my second project, he found a song he really liked and just wanted to do one song with me. I had no idea who he was when he found me. From the song, he was like let's do a project out of nowhere, and here we are now talking about it all. So I really just took a big risk and said I’m going to go online and put my music out and hope somebody finds it. The people that found me have really helped me to get this far.

✨🙏🏾✨ 📷:@fullcrate

A photo posted by Xavier Omär (@xvromar) on

That's really dope how the internet has fostered such life-changing relationships for this generation. I know you were born in California and have lived everywhere from Japan to Maryland to Georgia, and San Antonio. You rep San Antonio the most. What's the music scene like there?
Yeah, that's where I started. Those are the people that have supported me when I was coming up. When I moved there is when a lot of stuff started happening for me so I can’t abandon them. At the time though, there wasn’t a scene. Matter of fact, I think recently got rid of one of the only up and coming local venues, White Rabbit. So the environment didn’t allow for us to consistently build a fan base and make a real community together, which is unfortunate. I don’t know if there’s many singers as far as the R&B community. Obviously, when you want to go into other genres like country and tejano, it's a place you really want to be. But people are there, they’re doing their thing. They’re trying to work hard. It’s just a matter of time. I think the area needs somebody to really go and represent it and then pull people up. It's just like how Drake really started repping Toronto and helped The Weeknd, Majid Jordan, PARTYNEXTDOOR and DVSN get into the positions they are today. It's not about the area not having talent, but the lack of a platform. I think San Antonio is the same way, and I want to be able to do that [for them].

So, now you've got yet another awesome support system in the artist development program that is Red Bull Sound Select. What's your experience with them been like so far? 
It’s amazing to be a part of Red Bull. And that’s all because of Amir Abbassy; he made that connect for us. They gave me an opportunity earlier this year to work with Hit Boy and do all this cool stuff with him. From there they started putting me on shows. The first one was actually with Sango and from there it's been D.R.A.M., Noname, Basecamp, just all these people. Overall, it really affirmed where I am and what I’m doing.

Aside from live shows, is there anything we can except from you before the year comes to a close? Maybe something we should keep our eyes peeled for or mark off on our calendars? 
Yeah, my EP is going to come out extremely soon. [I] don’t want to give an aim date because I don’t want people to start getting mad at me like they did Frank. But before the end of the year is definitely the plan, just not going to say the month. Sango and I are also working on our second project, which is going to come out early next year. So I’m excited to work with him on that. I don't stop. I don’t sleep; I just keep going.

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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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