For some, music is a way of life. Willy J. Peso grew up with music as a major part of his life, and he has carried that with him throughout his career. In addition to being a hip-hop artist with his own unique sound, Peso is a proud cannabis advocate and enthusiast, whose music and brand is a clear and respected representation of his affinity for the plant. He’s such a fan, in fact, that he even named his EPs after types of cannabis. CULTURE talked to Peso about his creative process and his support for cannabis legalization.
How did you get started making music?
I grew up watching music videos with my grandfather as a kid. My mom kept me in church and made me sing in the youth choir on Sundays. As I got older I started writing my own lyrics, and by high school I had my own studio equipment at home. After high school I started really investing into studio time and production. I released my first national single with Travis Porter in 2011, and my career has been building ever since.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound is a mixture of hip-hop, soul and trap. I like to think I have a universal sound that can be played while everyone smokes.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
I’m influenced by artists from the past—Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye and George Clinton, as well as hip-hop legends like Jay Z, Snoop Dogg, Devin The Dude and Jeezy.
Do you have anything exciting as far as releases or touring that you want to announce?
I am currently on a national tour across the country with Devin the Dude until May 2018. My new album, Hybrid, [became] available on digital music platforms on March 23.
“Cannabis has been a part of my music since the beginning of my career. Every album I have released to date has some type of cannabis-related theme.”
How do you feel about your local and national music scenes?
My local music scene has grown over the last few years. A lot of artists from Detroit are getting national success right now. It’s a good time to be from Detroit if you are a rapper trying catch a break. The national music scene is wide open; the internet gives artist tons of opportunities to flourish.
Tell us about the ways in which cannabis is a central theme in your work.
Cannabis has been a part of my music since the beginning of my career. Every album I have released to date has some type of cannabis-related theme. I’m currently pushing my Stoned Like Willy brand, my Sativa EP, Indica EP and now the Hybrid LP. This allows me to show my different moods of music and spark a conversation about which type of cannabis other people like to consume. With my music and merchandise I’m making a statement to the world that cannabis is more than just a plant we smoke to get high.
How do you feel about legalization so far?
I’m ready for cannabis to be legalized federally across the nation. I am appreciative of the efforts that have been done in the states with medical and recreational cannabis. Things are still very grey, but I think the future is bright for legalization because of all the money being made in states like California, Washington and Colorado.
What could be done better or differently?
Once cannabis finally becomes legal I hope that the government then releases the people incarcerated for possessing cannabis. I think it would have been better if the states who have reformed their cannabis laws also freed the people in prison for crimes related to cannabis.
What is your favorite strain or cannabis product?
My favorite strain is Blue Lime Pie; the genetics are from Sin City Seeds in Las Vegas.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
My new album, Hybrid, [was just released], and it features a lot of legendary rappers like Royce 5’9”, Styles P, Devin The Dude and Smoke DZA.