If someone would’ve told us that everyone’s favorite rapper lately—and one of the founding members of legendary East Coast hip-hop collective the Wu-Tang Clan—would build an empire entirely separate from his storied music career while maintaining his status as one of the greats of the genre, we would’ve said that they’re crazy. But it’s true. Method Man, the gravelly-voiced MC from New York’s Staten Island—who made a career synonymous with cannabis use or “TICAL” as he has affectionally dubbed it—has reinvented himself as more than just a hip-hop icon. The Renaissance man’s cannabis brand, Tical Offical, is led by three of his closest friends and is rapidly taking the US by storm.
Cannabis Now had the chance to sit with the three co-founders of Tical Official (T3 for short), Nathanial “Nutta” Vereen, Joshua “Raz” Rassin and Bryan “Z” Zabinski, to discuss the brand, its backstory and what motivates them to keep pushing.
“This brand, our team, works so well because we’re all close friends who share a common vision for TICAL as a movement,” Vereen says. “We’re doing the best we can to ensure cannabis is seen as the life-changing medicine that it is.”
Tical Official has a colorful story of becoming a reality. “In the years of being close friends with Meth, I’ve always wanted more for him and his moniker. No matter where we go, Meth gives 110% of himself and fans love him,” Vereen says. “I knew whatever I ended up building with him needed to be special. Ultimately, after a few failed attempts at getting various projects off the ground, reconnecting with Raz and venturing into cannabis is where things started to go right.”
“I’ve known Nutt and Meth for a hot minute,” Raz says. “We always rolled in the same circles on tour and Nutt helping get my brand “Tree-Shirts” in front of (and subsequently on) Meth. We’ve always shared a connection and kind of knew one day we would eventually work together.” At the time, Raz was also working on the creative side at Under Armour and Nutt thought it could be great to connect them with Method Man for a signature shoe. “I mentioned a shoe, he (Meth) smiled, then I mentioned Under Armour and his excitement kind of changed,” Nutt says. But they didn’t give up there. The idea of creating a cannabis brand felt very natural, but there was some hesitation. “I knew I had one more kick at the can here with Meth, I couldn’t waste it,” Nutt says.
This is when they realized they needed one more person, Zabinski, to help make things a reality. “I’ve known Z for two decades; he has managed or worked with A-list celebrities and was, at the time, running Hunt and Fish Club in Times Square,” Raz says. “He knows the ins and outs of scaling companies.”
According to Zabinski, he and Raz have known each other for more than two decades and bonded over their shared love of cannabis, saying that the two have “maintained a very strong friendship.” Raz and Nutt approached Zabinski in 2018 with the opportunity to work on Tical Official. “I don’t think there’s any reality where I would’ve said ‘no’ to this opportunity,” he says.
And thus, like the snap of Thanos’ fingers, the concept was a go. After a very successful pitch, which included a Lacrosse stick (Easter egg trivia for all you Method Man stans), the decision to move forward was made. Meth gave his blessing to use his moniker and offered to come in as a fourth vote if a tie-break was needed.
T3 banded together and decided to self-fund this venture, accepting no financial support from Method Man and only using his name and platform for marketing purposes. “We literally sold our cars to make this happen,” Nutt says. It didn’t take long for the idea—and the investors—to get going. Within three months, Tical Official had raised $500,000, vetted and chosen a state partner in California. It felt like nothing could stop them.
Then, the COVID global pandemic happened and the money suddenly stopped. All their grandiose plans were postponed and strategy pivoted for a few months to survive on the initial investment. “We were already flying high (so to speak): we had a great product, killer branding and a state to sell into,” Raz says. “Rather than go heavy on marketing, we decided to go with the hand-to-hand approach, choosing four independent, black-owned stores to launch.” And this strategy worked. Soon after the launch in California, Tical Official identified partners in Colorado and Nevada and started selling into states that had already legalized adult-use cannabis. “Things have felt incredibly surreal; we feel blessed to have had so much support so early on,” Zabinski says.
Through trials and tribulations, Tical Official has thrived in a very saturated North American cannabis market. Currently operating in six markets—including Michigan, Arizona, Las Vegas and Arkansas—and expanding to 10 states within the next 90 days, the brand is showing no signs of slowing down—not only in sales but also support from Meth himself, whose frequently spotted wearing the merchandise, doing retail store appearances across the country and video calling with customers. Method Man’s currently on tour, so he took the opportunity to take Tical on the road by wrapping his tour bus.
The core team remains incredibly grounded in spite of the brand’s success. “I’ve been through a lot in my life and want to ensure, through the success of this brand, that I give back in a meaningful way,” Nutt says. “It’s really great to work with Meth, to meet—and partner with— licensed producers across the country and get our product out there. But, at the end of the day, if we don’t stay true to the culture and show love, this is all meaningless.”
Tical Official made its New York debut September 15 and is available at Housing Works, Strain Stars, Stage One, Greenery Spot and Flynnstoned.