My documentary ‘SMOKE: Marijuana + Black America’ tracks the recent cannabis boom — and how racism has already crept in
As the producer for the 2014 documentary Time is Illmatic, I’ve interviewed Nas more times than I can count. By this point, we’ve developed an easy rapport and settled comfortably in the zone between industry connection and working friendship. I’m used to him being subdued and reserved when he comes on set and takes a seat. But the last time, there was an added distance — this one socially mandated. Hand sanitizer, elbow bumps.
It’s March 2020, just days before the coasts enact a historic shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Masks are not yet ever-present, but the fear of the virus fills the space between us all — the camera operators, the sound mixers, the production assistants, as well as me and Nas. This is the last interview I will conduct for SMOKE: Marijuana + Black America, a documentary for BET that explores cannabis legalization with an eye on criminal justice, professional sports, and industry.