"Yo, I'm gonna put this out, fuck" are words that I never thought I would hear from Gifted Gab, Seattle's stoniest MC. But two-thirds into a wood-tipped blunt under the sun at Sasquatch!, the outdoor music festival, that's what she decided.
To her credit, this was no ordinary blunt. Made by Seattle brand Saints, it was rolled in cured pot leaves, filled with New York City Diesel flower, and infused with cannabis oil from Oleum Extracts. An hour before we were passing this blunt back and forth, I'd watched Gifted Gab (aka Gabrielle Kadushin) smoke two blunts and a vape cartridge onstage, all while wowing a crowd with her linguistic prowess and a flow that has more similarities with classic hiphop than the mumbles of most young MCs.
Kadushin is riding a wave of attention following the January release of her music video "Come Correct," a fiery two and a half minutes of rap barbs exchanged with Bay Area MC Blimes Brixton. The video was shot in the parking lot of the Jackson Street Red Apple. Paul Allen's wrecking ball brought down the store a week after the video dropped, so I asked how it felt to have her art capture the Red Apple's final picture.
"It's bittersweet for me," she said. "The Red Apple was the spot. For anyone in the Central District, that was the place, so to not see it there anymore is eerie. But to have 'Come Correct' be the last thing that was shot there means a lot."
Kadushin, like most of the Central District's former African American community, doesn't live in the neighborhood anymore. She said she can't afford it. With a new manager in Los Angeles and frequent recording sessions in California for an upcoming release with Blimes, she's now eyeing a move to Southern California.
But her pot-laden rhymes found a receptive audience at the weekend-long festival, where this year, like every year, pot smoke formed the social glue. Tents were hot-boxed in the 8 a.m. desert sun, pre-rolls were tucked behind belts and smuggled through security, and really big joints were passed between friends as Modest Mouse played "The World at Large" and fireworks filled the sky.
A day earlier, I handed a joint of Canna Organix Gelato that was plugged into a pyramid-shaped glass piece to Whitney Petty, the Jimmy Page–channeling guitarist of Thunderpussy.
"That's the cutest thing I've ever seen," Petty said before she inhaled a cloud of Gelato smoke that bubbled through the little pyramid's glass chamber.
Petty had roared through Thunderpussy's set the night before with guitar solos that were equal parts soulful and fuzzily grinding, trading the spotlight with lead singer Molly Sides. That show coincided with the major-label release of Thunderpussy's self-titled debut album.
Thunderpussy recorded the album at superstar producer Sylvia Massy's home studio in Ashland, Oregon. Each day of recording was capped off by a blunt rolled with Southern Oregon weed, according to Leah Julius, Thunderpussy's bass player.
"I think we all agreed that Blueberry was our collective favorite," Julius said.
The joint of Gelato we passed around tasted sweet and pungent, and the MJ Arsenal bubbler turned each puff into something more like a smooth bong hit. I asked Petty if weed was a part of her creative process.
"I don't know how I would make music without weed—it's way more fun," she said. "I don't do it when playing live. But when I'm alone at home practicing or writing, I will want to practice for like five minutes until I smoke weed, and then I'll practice for like eight hours, just stoked."