It’s crazy to think how far the cannabis industry has come, from locking people up in jail for marijuana use to legalizing it in damn near every state in the country.
GUMBO Brands, is a new black-owned cannabis company who’s here to change the narrative completely.
GUMBO was created and founded by Bronx native Karim Butler, who got his start working with Dipset. The world-class cannabis cultivator is not only here to keep you lit, but leverage entrepreneurship and support racial justice outcomes and inclusion — especially with legalization having passed in New York.
GUMBO has seen organic support from all your favorite rappers, from 42 Dugg and Takeoff to Dave East and Lil Meech.
Introduced via a two-day, interactive pop-up experience during Rolling Loud in New York City, the name GUMBO hails from the fact that there’s a melting pot of high-quality items you can choose from when it comes to flower, merch, and everything in between.
From hustling in the streets to the music industry to now cannabis, Butler is someone who obtained success from putting the work in. In addition, he’s also a proud father of 4 who’s currently working on his first ever audiobook about motivation and self-worth.
AllHipHop: Can you describe GUMBO for those who don’t know?
Karim Butler: GUMBO is a black-owned cannabis brand, which I own. We’re expanding and extending our portfolio with merch and building everything. We’re showing people that not only are we the #1 and most consistent in the flower, but the brand itself reached another pinnacle as far as the culture and hip-hop. GUMBO is a pot full of love. It’s culture, it’s Hip Hop. It’s everything. It’s the youth. We’re transforming them. We’re getting them off this lean and opioids, giving them some good pot! We don’t want them to be leaned up, perked up, drinking fentanyl and poppin’ pills. We want to lean them towards health, we’re more towards the flower. We’re using it as a tool to save the community and the young black race.
AllHipHop: What was a young Karim Butler like coming out of the Bronx?
Karim Butler: Coming out of the South Bronx, migrated to Harlem, I always had that drive. I always had the entrepreneurial spirit in me. I’m the type of person that they’ll say I’ll sell water to a whale. I have the hustle spirit. Anything I did or I wanted to do as a child coming up: if I sold socks, I’d make sure I sell one million pairs of socks a day. I was the best at whatever I did. I was also co-partner with the alkaline company many years back. We presented alkaline water to many communities in the world.
Me coming up out the South Bronx, my grandparents were vendors. They started the 125th St. Association where people were able to come outside and sell merchandise everyday. I’ve always had that spirit in me of selling t-shirts and things of that nature. I’d go screenprint t-shirts and resell them. I’d go downtown and print a bunch of them, maybe 20 to 30 dozen, then come back and sell them for $10 apiece. I’ve always had that niche in me to make money and to show people how to legalize things, and do things in another manner where you don’t have to do things illegal.
AllHipHop: When did you get the nickname, Hustle Man?
Karim Butler: It was around 2000, 145th and Broadway. I was outside selling CDs, DVDs. Coogi’s, Prada, Fendi, whatever was hot, I would sell it. I’d go downtown to Canal Street, come back uptown. I’d sell people fake Coogi’s and Iceberg’s. I paid $50 for hats and sweaters, I’d turn around and sell it for $500 for the set, because the stores had them for $1000 for a sweater. Everybody knew they were knockoff, but guess what? They were getting them from me. They were getting them at a discounted rate and they loved it.
AllHipHop: Talk about the role you played in the formation of Dipset.
Karim Butler: Oh man, a major role. Cam’ron is a great friend of mine, so is Juelz and Jim. That’s an imperative role, we could be here for hours with that. Manage, market, promote. I did a lot of things with the Diplomats to raise their career at the time and the hype. At the time I was on 145th and Broadway, I was selling CDs at a rapid rate. That was the mixtape era. At the time Cam’ron, I and DJ Kay Slay did a mixtape called The Diplomats. That was the pinnacle for rap right there at that era, for The Diplomats. I played a very blunt instrument in the whole Diplomatic movement. Luca Brasi! I was in every song. Luca! Taliban. That was me. Luca, 145th and Broadway.
AllHipHop: How important was mixtape discovery?
Karim Butler: The mixtape discovery and impact, it got them a record label deal. We were selling more mixtapes than people were selling records at the time.
AllHipHop: Moving into the medicinal space, what’s the reality in launching your own cannabis company?
Karim Butler: The reality is you have a young black man from the South Bronx that hustled his whole life, busted his ass selling t-shirts, mixtapes, fake Iceberg’s and Coogi’s, that now owns an empire that’s legit and legal with GUMBO Brand. We grossed $250K the first pop-up we’ve ever had. It was a great success. It was at The Ainsworth downtown, 26th St. Takeoff, Lil Meech, Dave East, Bobby Shmurda, Jim Jones, 42 Dugg, a lot of people came out and supported the event. Not only that, it was such a success for me because I legitimized my company with my merchandise. Now you can get a GUMBO lighter, you can get a GUMBO hoodie or mask off the website.
Www.GumboBrands.com. It’s history.
That’s the reality of it all: your dreams can become reality. Anything that you think becomes true. I thought about something that would be lucrative like this, and I brought it into fruition. It’s here now. We’re building a brand, expanding our portfolio and keeping it organic. GUMBO is one of the best marijuana brands because we’re more in tune with the culture. I’ve lived the life of the streets. I come from these places so I see the impact it has on my community, the difference, the motivation and inspiration that I have for others. I can go into my DMs right now and read 50 different DMs about how people are saying how inspirational and motivational I am — and I’ve never even met these people. I feel better knowing I’m a black entrepreneur and a businessman that became a mogul for these people to realize that anything they want to do can become a reality.
AllHipHop: Talk about the New Balance x GUMBO collaboration.
Karim Butler: We had a New Balance collaboration, we grossed $250K with the merch pop-up. It was a two-day event at Ainsworth, it was amazing. It was way bigger than I could ever fathom to imagine. Not only was support given, but I saw people I’ve never met or known that were supporting me. They’re like “yo, this is crazy! I love the t-shirt, I love the mask.” It was a great experience and feeling for me to see people really enjoy it, other than the flower which is the merchandise. I got a real kick out of it to see people go crazy over the sneakers when they saw them. Dave East, Takeoff. If you pull up the video, you could see the reactions when people had when they saw the sneaker. Then I had a varsity jacket that dropped with it. It was tremendous support, it was amazing. It was a great turnout.
AllHipHop: How do you use your music expertise to now put it into the cannabis world?
Karim Butler: Everyone that I know from entertainers and famous people, we have these relationships. I make it conducive for everybody. Everybody loves to smoke. I did a collaboration with Dave East and called it Mafia GUMBO. This was before he did the EastCo GUMBO. That inspired him to do his strand, so now he has a strand with Cookies. It’s more each one each one. It’s more for building others and helping them with what they’re doing.
With the relationships with artists, everyone loves to smoke. Everyone loves GUMBO. GUMBO is the #1 weed right now. First you had the Haze, then the Zaza, the Exotics, now it’s GUMBO. I’m making it where they do GUMBO songs. We did a collab with Fabolous it’s called “Family GUMBO.” He has a song called “Going Dumbo for the GUMBO,” he has a video and everything. Those are the things I do with my artist friends. We do a lot of collabs and build each other. GUMBO is hot right now, we make the artists relevant as well. It’s GUMBO, we put it together. Make it good for the soul, make it good for everybody. For the culture.
AllHipHop: Is it named after gumbo, like the food?
Karim Butler: No, it was a mix up of a whole bunch of good diff things in one pot. That’s where the Gumbo came from.
AllHipHop: Would you ever go back to the music industry?
Karim Butler: No, because it’s fake. It’s fabricated. It’s all lies, it’s made up. The life they’re talking about, I’m living it. They’re talking about it, getting paid. That’s not fair to people like me. It’s fake. It’s animated, it’s fabricated. For me, I wasn’t a rapper. I was around Lil Wayne, I saw his success boom, when he started dealing with me. Cam’ron, Jim Jones, I’ve had people’s sucess within the industry. The things that you have to go through, I wouldn’t want to be a part of that. It’s just too much.
AllHipHop: What’re you most excited for next?
Karim Butler: The collabs that Marvin and I are doing. Everyday is a different venture.
Alexis Major: The future in terms of getting into the cultivation farming a space, getting into medical space to serve medical patients. We’re planning on launching GUMBO RX to serve medical patients the goodness of GUMBO, and more collaborations. We’re working on a collaboration with Vlone, looking at doing an Art Basel pop-up in Miami, and a whole bunch of things we can’t talk about yet. [laughs]
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?
Karim Butler: I love y’all, appreciate y’all, Without y’all, there’s no me. There’s no us.