The son of the one and only Biggie Smalls speaks with Boardroom about collaborating with Adidas and finding creative ways to celebrate his father’s legacy through entrepreneurship and activism.
Earlier this month, Adidas Originals and CJ Wallace, TV personality Weezy WTF, and stylist Miso Dam have joined forces to celebrate Adidas’ iconic Samba sneaker on a live panel in Los Angeles. Moderated by content creator and host Ricky Pinela, the goal was to authenticity, style, and passion that has shaped each of their creative journeys as part of a new Adidas conversation series known as “Interlaced.”
Boardroom decided to go deeper to discover how the series came together and what it’s all about, so we spoke with CJ Wallace — an entrepreneur and the son of the legendary rapper Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. The Notorious BIG — about the project, what it means to him, and his plans for 2023 regarding his social activist organization, Think BIG, and his lifestyle and health brand, Frank White.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
RANDALL WILLIAMS: What is special about the opportunity to work with Adidas on “Interlaced”?
CJ WALLACE: I was honored when Adidas asked me to be part of this incredible idea. The opportunity to work with Adidas was huge because I’ve been a fan since I was a kid and the fact that you are having these beautiful, intimate, and thought-provoking conversations is special and very inspiring.
RW: Do you consider yourself a cultural disruptor? Why or why not?
CJW: Yes. I do. It’s in my blood to fuck shit up and challenge the status quo. While not giving a fuck what people think. I’ve never been one to follow the crowd. We’ve always believed in pushing ourselves by using innovative business strategies and partnerships to expand my late father’s brand and bring his music and message to a new generation of fans.
RW: How do you think fans will react when they see the series?
CJW: I hope viewers are inspired and learn something new about me and my family. I hope the series sparks conversation within friends and families. More importantly, I hope this gives young creatives the confidence and courage to execute their ideas in game-changing fashion — fearlessly.
RW: What do you want your lifestyle/wellness brand, Frank White, to become?
CJW: I would love to see Frank White become a symbol of quality, innovation, and authenticity associated with my father’s legacy and the message of The Notorious BIG, and to continue to expand the reach of his music and brand through new and creative initiatives. We also aim to create a sense of community around the brand and to bring together fans of my father’s music and hip-hop culture more broadly.
RW: Where did the brand’s aesthetic come from?
CJW: My design style is clean, minimal, and I find inspiration everywhere. I try to avoid getting my creative inspiration online; [rather] from my travels, my photography, art books, magazines, music. We typically work closely with a team of designers to create unique and innovative products that pay homage to my father’s legacy and that reflect the essence of hip-hop, streetwear, art, fashion, and design.
RW: What design have you not done yet that you want to do?
CJW: I have been putting off this idea for custom jewelry for a while now with a very special friend of mine who has some of the best jewelry in the game. I think we’ll get that process going this year, maybe. I’m also interested in incorporating new technology and materials into my designs, such as sustainable and eco-friendly materials, to create products that not only look good but also have a positive impact on the environment.
RW: Why are cannabis and hemp important to you?
CJW: My perspective on cannabis is shaped by my personal experiences with my younger brother and my commitment to improving the lives of individuals living with autism and their families. I see the potential for medical cannabis as a way to help individuals on the autism spectrum and other neurological conditions, and I consider myself a strong advocate for further research and access to medical cannabis for those in need.
I believe cannabis and hemp plants have many potential health benefits, and I support their use for medicinal purposes. I’m also a proponent of legalization and regulation of these plants, and see the benefits of their use for both individuals and communities.
These plants are also a sustainable source of materials, and it would be interesting to explore the possibilities of using hemp in the fashion and textile industries. I also think that the cannabis and hemp industries are a great opportunity to create new economic opportunities and to support small businesses and entrepreneurs.
RW: How did you come up with your social activism group, Think BIG?
CJW: “Think BIG” is inspired by my father, the late Christopher Wallace. With the help of my second father, Todd Russaw, and Willie Mack, my co-founder/CEO, we founded Think BIG as a way to continue BIG’s legacy and to honor his memory by advocating for Black communities’ ownership in the cannabis and wellness industries.
Our mission through advocacy, and charitable campaigns we work to bring restorative justice to the world, via:
- Cannabis legalization and reinvestment into communities most harmed by cannabis prohibition
- Criminal justice reform
- Economic and educational development into our communities
It’s important that we support youth in underserved communities and to provide them with opportunities for education, mentorship, and personal growth. I believe that every young person deserves a chance to succeed, regardless of their background or circumstances. Think BIG is a way to make a positive impact in the world and to help young people reach their full potential.
RW: What do you want people to learn from Think BIG here and now?
CJW: I would like for people to learn how to think bigger about their place in the world and find creative ways to support your communities and how plant medicine can help heal the world and should be legalized
Supporting and investing in education and creative ways of learning is key to the success of the future of our youth. It is a continuation of the legacy of my father, The Notorious BIG.
RW: How do you envision Think BIG’s long-term impact?
CJW: I would like Think BIG to have a significant and lasting impact in several ways:
- Continuing to legalize cannabis like we helped in New York State
- Helping to build stronger communities for all minorities to be successful
- A lasting legacy that continues my family’s fight for justice and respect
RW: You’re kicking off the year with Adidas and “Interlaced,” but what are the other major goals you hope to accomplish in 2023?
CJW: We have several goals for 2023:
- A Frank White Brand relaunch in NYC
- Launch our homeware and accessories line
- Continue the development of the documentary we’ve been shooting
- A Frank White pop-up experience
- Our charity partnership with the Youth Design Center in New York
- Travel to Japan, Africa and shoot lots of photos!
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