Wearing a crown and a cape, MC Flow took the stage at the Backdrop in San Diego on November 17th. The weed rapper, known also as Her Highness, Queen of Westonia, was hosting High Court—a recurring variety show that brings in local musicians and comedians alongside her own performances. Gifts of pre-rolls and tinctures were bestowed on Her Highness by members of the court, aka audience, in a comedic ceremony that brought tons of weed to the princess trope.
In her music, MC Flow blends intelligent rhymes about weed with a beat that makes you want to bob your head and light up a joint. The evening was a lot of fun—so much so that I can’t remember exactly how MC Flow ended up in a nun’s costume on stage by the end. But it was the kind of night that made you just want to go with the flow—pun intended.
I caught up with MC Flow to chat about her music, her passions, and—of course—weed.
Does cannabis help you creatively?
MC Flow: For some reason, lots of ideas have come to me when I smoke and get in the shower. That combination is magical. It’s about getting into a space that’s open to receive—whatever it is, whether it’s lyrics, or a concept, or an idea for a show.
I’ve heard people say smoking weed can freeze them, that they get too critical of what’s coming out, but for me, it’s definitely a creativity tool.
I’m curious to learn about some of your musical influences.
MC Flow: Growing up just outside of Manhattan, my parents took me to a lot of musicals—and I loved them. My brother got me into classic rock. Then I went to Jewish sleepaway camp and certain folk songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s were part of camp culture. We sang them every year, and those songs were a formative part of me falling in love with music. Ani DiFranco is a big influence—and has crossed the line into rapping sometimes.
Going to high school near New York City—that’s where hip hop came in. A Tribe Called Quest. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Redman, the Beastie Boys. The classic stuff.
I’ve always been a person obsessed with lyrics. I remember as a kid coming home and reading all the lyrics—either on the cassette or the album cover. It was with me from the get-go.
You rap mostly about cannabis. Has it always been this way in your musical career?
MC Flow: I did a song about marriage equality, Created Equal in 2008. Obama had just been elected, but Prop 8 went through. [The measure that declared same sex marriages unconstitutional but was later overturned in the courts]. I was involved in the “No on 8” campaign and went out to polling places on the day. So, when it passed, it was just crushing. Writing is just the way I processed it. There was so much coming out of me.
I write and rap about weed these days, but I’m not going to rule out writing on other topics in the future. Rap is all sorts of things. It’s a social justice movement, and a way to tell stories. Those things go hand in hand.
In addition to coffee shops around San Diego, you’ve performed at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre with Jason Mraz, the Women of Cannabis Conference in Las Vegas to kick off MJ Biz Con, and the Ganja Goddess Getaway. How do people react to your performances and your songs?
MC Flow: I’ve had some incredible reactions to my songs. Pot in the Latkes is the fan favorite, but the biggest emotional response has been to the Oh, Charlotte song. It’s about a 12-year old girl with severe epilepsy—Charlotte Figi. Medical cannabis oil has changed her life, made it possible for her to grow and enjoy being with her family. And the outpouring of love and appreciation from people who hear the song is amazing.
Everywhere I go, people talk to me about weed now. If that’s a side effect of my music, then great!
Like you said, Pot in the Latkes is the song that people know you for. Do Judaism and rapping about cannabis come together for you?
MC Flow: Well, they definitely came together for me in that song!
There are a lot of Jewish rappers, comedians—entertainers. Even though I’m not observant, being Jewish is still important to me and I think one of the ways I can connect with it is through humor.
It all came about because I participated in a holiday show called Feeding the Soul for four or five years straight. I was one of the only Jewish people on the cast, so I felt like I was responsible for writing the Hanukkah songs so that Hanukkah would be represented. So, it put me on this trip of writing Jewish songs.
Do you have a favorite weed for writing—or life?
MC Flow: I had to stay away from sativas for a while because I felt that they would give me so much energy—it almost bound me up. So, I was smoking mostly indicas for a while. But after meeting friends locally who grow the most beautiful weed, I’m smoking sativas again, too.
Really, I don’t know if the indica-sativa difference is actually legit. It seems to be more about finding the strain that helps you feel good.
Does anything surprise you about the new business of cannabis?
MC Flow: It seems like a natural meeting of retail and weed! But I feel mixed about it… I want to support dispensaries and small businesses doing good things. Some dispensaries mix education in, and I’m into any place that’s gonna do something like that.
But I also know people growing and making products who have been shut out of dispensaries due to the huge cost of getting fully licensed.
I’m the first one to say that it’s super fun to go to a swanky boutique. But it’s just as important, if not more important, to educate people on products that can improve their health and change their lives—not just on the prettiest, fanciest packaging.
What are you noticing about the changing landscape of cannabis since full legalization in California?
MC Flow: I’m feeling attitudes change. More people are talking to me about it—talking about it in general. There’s lots of interest in CBD. Pretty soon we’re gonna see CBD in Whole Foods, I think, and it’ll be really mainstream. The other thing I’ve noticed is seniors—baby boomers—coming back to cannabis. A lot is changing, and fast. It’s an interesting time.
Photo credits: Sharisse Coulter
Danielle Simone Brand is a mother of two, a die-hard idealist, and a breaker of conventions. She holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MA from American University and has worked as a staff writer, an academic editor, and a researcher on issues of international conflict resolution.