Despite all the professional opportunities that individuals living in legal cannabis states have to get involved in the industry, people of color still disproportionately face jail time and persecution for possessing cannabis. Colorado-based hip-hop artist Michael Acuña, also known as ILL Se7en, recognizes this fact. As a musical artist, he works social justice issues like this and other important topics into his music. CULTURE chatted with ILL Se7en about his musical career and cannabis in Colorado.
How did you get started making music?
I was a church kid growing up, so my first intro into music was really there, and from my parents and what they listened to. I started playing jazz around 12 years old; I played clarinet and saxophone. I got bored with band and started wanting to learn to produce and write my own music. I started going to The Spot [that used to be] downtown in Denver, and that’s where I fell in love with making hip-hop music.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Bob Marley, James Baldwin, André 3000, Nas and James Brown.
How would you describe your sound?
Grassroots truth, dusty, personal—old and futuristic all at the same time.
What do you have in the works right now to announce as far as touring or recording goes?
I’m releasing a project in July, called Acuna Black presents Crates of Vintage Dreams. I’ll be touring in August with Blu & Nottz out of LA, and also releasing a spoken-word book called My Truth, specifics to be announced.
Have you ever worked cannabis into your music as a theme? If so, how?
Yeah, I’ve talked about smoking in my music and also talked towards the prohibition of it around the world, and its impact on people of color because of it being illegal. I see it as a healing plant that could cure the condition of the world if used for its true purpose . . . bringing together to build community.
“Marijuana is a tool that can connect us to the parts of our mind and soul we have yet to explore. We look at it as a drug; I look at it as a pathway to higher self.”
How do you feel about legalization so far? What could be done better or differently?
The legalization of green is necessary, but I’m weary of corporate and political interest in the world of weed. Mostly because the growing process will change, like in the food market. Cash rules everything, so businesses might push for high production at low cost. I hope people continue to home grow out the sight of the market. All that to say, I’m pro-legalization.
What is your favorite strain or cannabis product?
I like the hybrids, OG Kush and AK-47.
How has cannabis impacted your life or creative process?
It has been a spiritual and healing tool in my reflection of self. This world is all over the place; smoking keeps me rooted. I use it to connect with my higher self.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Marijuana is a tool that can connect us to the parts of our mind and soul we have yet to explore. We look at it as a drug; I look at it as a pathway to higher self.