Noah Rubin is the editor of Snoop Dogg’s hit cookbook From Crook to Cook and the former editor-in-chief of Snoop’s media platform, Merry Jane. Before Merry Jane, he was editor-in-chief of Nas’s media platform/production house Mass Appeal. In addition to his writing and editorial work, Rubin has an extensive music background. His credits include Grammy-winning A&R work for global EDM phenomenon Flume and production on two highly regarded albums for Wu-Tang Clan. He is also the former VP of Music at Decon Records (now Mass Appeal Records), home to artists like Run the Jewels, Pusha T, and the Hood Internet.
Which is a great intro for this interview with Noah about his book – How We Roll: The Art and Culture of Joints, Blunts and Spliffs. In it we talk book production, choice wrapper types, best weed of interviewees, and more. Check it out and get rolling today!
Talk about the process of assembling, pitching, and producing this book. Was it brewing in your head for a while, or was it a project that just seemed like a fun thing to do as legal weed continues its normalization in the US.
Me and Snoop collaborated on a cookbook called From Crook to Cook back when he was doing his cooking show with Martha Stewart. That cookbook became a pretty big hit and the publisher, Chronicle Books, approached me about doing my own book. At that time, I had also been hosting a podcast on Snoop’s platform called About That Time and I was smoking all kinds of joints, blunts, and spliffs with different people. The little nuances and regional traditions that made everyone’s style unique made the lightbulb go off in my head, and I was like, “This might be a cool idea for a book.”
I would say that the whole process was about two-and-a-half to three years from idea to release because I just wanted to make sure everything was done right and at the end of the day that takes time. I’m really happy with how it came out and I’m really grateful to Chronicle as well as Tasia Prince, the book’s illustrator, who were all instrumental in making it the very dope book that it is.
Out of all the people that you interviewed, who do you think has had the most profound impact on this culture?
That’s a hard question to answer because I really put effort into thinking about all the different ways that this culture manifests itself and different people that would do justice to that perspective in the book. In some ways my book is about speaking to the unseen historical figures who have subtly defined the act of rolling that we often take for granted. From indentured servants in India who brought cannabis to the fields of Jamaica and birthed ganja traditions in the western world, to factory workers in Spain 300 years ago who were making paper out of hemp and smoking it in the fields during their breaks. These hard working people, in my heart, are the heroes of joint rolling. Because without them, and the magic of this plant helping them do what they did, none of us would be here enjoying the pleasure of cannabis in the way that we do today.
Who was your favorite person to interview?
My favorite person to interview for the book was actually Josh Kesselman from Raw papers. He is such a knowledgeable person about the world of rolling and rolling papers and he’s been doing it for so long. He just has so many interesting details to share. He’s great on social media as well and his character is very fun and engaging but it doesn’t even come close to scratching the surface of all the really heavy and important knowledge that Josh has to offer.
Who has the best weed of all the interviewees?
This is a very biased opinion, but Swami’s brand Swami Select produces the weed that I like to smoke the most. Because Swami is committed to regenerative farming practices and lots of other kinds of Earth conscious methodologies, I definitely always feel good about lighting up some weed that Swami has grown. There’s not much out there on the market that you can trust in the way that you can trust Swami’s weed. He’s literally touched every plant with his hands and grown it from seed in his own backyard. That’s some next level shit.
Give me your choice rolling style you cover in the book. What’s your least favorite style of joint?
I think the joint that I like the most is the inside out or backwards joint. It offers a quantifiably superior smoke because it has less paper in it and it’s also pretty cool to light it on fire before you smoke it. High entertainment value and superior functionality, who can argue with that?
In terms of least favorite style, I definitely believe in the ethos of “no bad joints.” It doesn’t really matter how pretty it is or what style it is as long as it works for you. It’s hard for me to hate on any specific kind of joint. There’s a lot of stuff out there that’s just unnecessarily fancy and not super functional in my opinion, but if you’re bored and want to do that for fun that’s also cool so no disrespect.
Let’s go wide: Take me through your cannabis journey. Where/when did you start, and where do you see the culture going as a whole in the us?
My cannabis Journey started when I was a teenager in suburban Massachusetts skateboarding and listening to rap music and punk music. Weed just fit in perfectly with that. I definitely would never have imagined doing many of the things that I’ve done professionally, like producing Wu-Tang records or collaborating with Snoop Dogg and smoking weed the whole way through. It’s been a real trip for me and I can only say that I am extremely grateful and appreciative to all the people I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
In terms of where things are headed, I think legalization is going to right some wrongs but it’s also going to wrong some rights. If we look at how legalization affected things in California specifically, a lot of the freeness was lost in the name of becoming legal. So the celebration and criminal justice aspect really need to be addressed but there is an aspect of the renegade culture that this was born from that’s at risk in the context of federally legal cannabis.
Best way to light a joint? Are you a purist, using hemp wicks etc? Or do you just spark it up?
I definitely use a hemp wick when I smoke out of my bong…which is fairly often if I’m honest. I guess it’s funny for me to say that as the guy who just wrote the Joint rolling book, but I can’t deny the practical benefits of keeping my bong stashed within arm’s reach most of the time. When it comes to lighting a joint I’m not as picky as bong hits for some reason. I’m happy to use one of my favorite Clipper lighters when it’s time to go.
Have you been to all of the places you wrote about in the book? What drew you to covering those spots?
One of the advantages of writing this book during the pandemic was that the only option I had was to connect with people online. I was able to get these beautiful impressions of places I would love to go without actually having to get my ass on a plane and go there. I can confidently say that I cannot wait to go to Egypt and Trinidad specifically, which are the two places I wrote about that I have not been to in person. They seem like top notch cannabis (and culinary) destinations full of dope people that I can’t wait to chill with asap.
Have you used any of the natural leaves for rolling? Which is your fav?
The main non conventional natural leaf that I’ve used for rolling is rose petals. I can say that rolling with rose petals is actually easier than I thought it was going to be. The pedals themselves are pretty easy to get to stick together, and the resulting smoke is definitely something special. If you haven’t tried it yourself I highly recommend it!
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This product has not been analyzed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is limited information on the side effects of using this product, and there may be associated health risks. Marijuana used during pregnancy and breast-feeding may pose potential harms. It is against the law to drive or operate machinery when under the influence of this product. KEEP THIS PRODUCT AWAY FROM CHILDREN. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgement. The effects of Edibles may be delayed by two hours or more. In case of accidental ingestion, contact poison control hotline 1-800-222-1222 or 9-1-1. This product may be illegal outside of MA.