Rap-grapevine rumors have it that Berner used to be so little-known, he'd have to offer up cash to appear on shows in the notoriously pay-to-play world of rap promotion.
Now, with a Wiz Khlifa co-sign, a growing cannabis empire, and a new album hotter than the chamber of your older sister's Pax, those days are firmly behind the San Francisco-based MC. Berner plays tonight at the Phoenix Theater up in Petaluma -- a seemingly unlikely but vibrant venue for Bay Area rap shows -- and tickets, according to two separate outlets, are selling like eighths of Pineapple Express.
That might have something to do with his only other announced show on the horizon being in Lansing, Michigan. It might have something to do with his status in the group of marijuana breeders that in 2010 brought to the dispensary world the strain phenomenon known as Girl Scout Cookies (think OG Kush crossed with Durban Poison). It might be that when he ran a cannabis club, from age 18 to 25, Wiz Khalifa came through, heard Berner's first release with Equipto, and took him under the wing of the Taylor Gang.
But I'd like to believe it has something to do with his music. Urban Farmer is Berner's latest album, a wash of laid-back stoner anthems that with any justice should enter the pantheon of classic Bay rap. Featuring Richmond's IamSu! from the HBK Gang on two tracks, and the posse cut "21 Gunz" with the Jacka, Rydah J. Clyde, Fed-Ex and San Quinn, the album churls along as a perfect soundtrack for both late-night, windows-down Bay Bridge cruising and lazy-Saturday, front-porch langour. Cozmo produces the record's best tracks, like piano-driven "Sleep Walking," the synth-and-bass slurp funk of "Cloudy Day," and atmospheric album opener "Clear." (If you get a Devin the Dude "Doobie Ashtray" vibe, it's probably no coincidence: Berner toured with him earlier this year.)
And, since it's Friday and you're slacking at work anyway, you might as well watch Berner smoke weed with B-Real from Cypress Hill and talk about his career:
Berner plays tonight, June 27, at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, with Remedy and Marlo. More info. and tickets here.-- @GMeline