Now on its third run, The Smokers Club Tour bus is currently rolling through the US and Canada with a bill that includes Juicy J, Joey Bada$$ and more. By bringing high quality music to select venues and leaving a memorable cloud of smoke in its trail, the young tour promises to continue growing after wild runs in 2010 and 2011 that featured Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y and Big K.R.I.T.

For founders Steve-O, Jonny Shipes, Shiest Bubz and Smoke DZA, the success of the tour has proven their ability to build a dream to reality. It could also one day establish them as icons of hip-hop's weed culture among names like Snoop Dogg, Redman and Method Man (who headlined the 2011 tour). In addition to riding to Philly for the first stop of this year's tour, XXL spoke to Shipes, Steve-O, Shiest and DZA about the growing popularity of the tour, their legacy in marijuana culture and why you shouldn’t let Big K.R.I.T. take you to Krystal's if you’re looking for a hot meal down south. —Calvin Stovall (@CalvinStovall)

The Genesis:


Steve-O: I could kind of tell that the whole weed shit was a culture and not a fad. I was like, “Yo, we should do an event for SXSW.” 'Cause at the time, none of our artists had shows out there. But we wanted to go out there and take over. So we was like, “Yo, let’s do this big-ass event.” We didn’t have nothing set up until the day of. There was no venue—

Jonny Shipes: —Some real weed head shit.

Steve-O: It was no venue, we didn’t really lock in who was gonna be the headliner. We just rented a crib and we lived in that shit—ironically that’s where “Glass House,” Wiz and K.R.I.T. and Curren$y’s song, that’s where it got done at—and all the rappers that we fucked with lived in there as well. And then the day of the event, we woke up scared as shit. Me and John—I’m always the one that’s like stressed, he be chillin', but even he got stressed out over the shit. And at 2 p.m. the event started and we had like six people in there.

Jonny Shipes: I was like, “We shouldn’t have come down to SXSW, I told you not to do this shit!” And he was like, “Chill, chill.” This shit was crazy.

Steve-O: I smoked my first cigarette that day. I was really fucked up, literally. And then everybody performed. We started making phone calls like, “You wanna come perform?” And everbody’d be like, “Yeah, let’s perform.”

Smoke DZA: That was our first time going to SXSW. We weren’t even aware of how big it was or how the experience was gonna be like. So, going into that situation was kind of crazy. And then putting it together, because a lot of the acts came last minute. That had to be one of the most—I can’t even think of a show that had those acts. It was me, Spitta, Devin the Dude, Wiz, Kendrick [Lamar]—a whole bunch of muthafuckas came out that night. And we couldn’t believe we brought that crowd together. Just a last minute thought in our apartment, smoking weed. And it turned into what you see right now.

After The First Show:


Jonny Shipes: It went so good, that show at SXSW, that we came back and it was like us three and DZA and we were at the crib just talking. And we were like, "Yo, we should just go on tour.” Spitta had moved to New York City.

Shiest Bubz: It was like, “We can actually tour off weed now? Aight, this is what it is.” We had already been doing weed for a minute.

Jonny Shipes: This whole shit, in real life starts if you go back to Purple City. And again, I came up off Up in Smoke, and Snoop—not saying we were the first to do it by any means— Devin the Dude, shit like that. But on this coast, the weed shit stemmed from Purple City so we weren’t ever in a position to really put on a tour until two years ago.

Shiest Bubz: I had already been working with Shipes on doing music and stuff. When I caught wind of the Smoker’s Club tour I was like, it’s about time that we took what we been doing for a minute and make it into a reality. As far as being on the road instead of just doing mixtapes—grinding out with the mixtapes and shit—it was like, “Aight, it’s time to really let the fans hands on see our weed culture and see our lifestyle." Because, I’ve been doing the whole Purple City bud movement shit since 2000. So, it was perfect. I didn’t really wanna rap or nothing like that, I just wanted to support everybody on the come-up shit.

The Line-Up:


Smoke DZA: It changed into a tour [because] K.R.I.T. and Spitta are the homies, dog. Me, Spitta and Jonny used to be in John’s apartment fucking cooking weed brownies, smoking weed and talking shit. So I mean, it kind of made sense for it to start with us three. We just have that chemistry and we all cool, so it just made sense for us to go on the road. And we was collaborating on music so we got to perform those songs live.

Steve-O: K.R.I.T., Smoke DZA, U-N-I, Pac Div, Curt@!n$, Stalley, Devin the Dude, Curren$y—

Jonny Shipes: Also, this was before SXSW was popping. I need to throw that out there.

Steve-O: Before it had hip-hop.

Jonny Shipes: On some, like early stages of seeing what the whole shit was, Steve-O had the idea to go down there and shit. And I was fucking influenced by this man over here [points to Shiest Bubz] on the weed shit. He’s literally, to me, one of the most legendary dudes on the weed tip. So I came up with him on some music/weed shit with Shiest and it just made sense to me. At least where we’re from in New York City, I don’t think you could have the Smoker’s Club or the weed culture without Shiest, you know what I mean?

Favorite Guest Performers:


Jonny Shipes: Shout out to Cornerboy P. That’s my homie, he’s funny as shit.

Steve-O: We did the West Coast, people forget that we did the West Coast. Dom [Kennedy], Nipsey Hussle—

Jonny Shipes: Dom busted out the Gucci lighter on us. He had the fuckin $2,000 Gucci lighter.

Steve-O: Strong Arm Steady, Talib Kweli—he just did it. Spitta brought out Big Sean in L.A. Smoke brought out Domo Genesis. Arizona was great, yo. Arizona was one of the best towns as far as culture.

Shiest Bubz: Chicago, Denver, San Fran, Orlando— and New York is always the best shit ever. Certain cities, when it comes to smoking weed, that’s their shit. So the cities that I named, like Chicago—that’s a big city. That’s a major city so they got it over there.

Jonny Shipes: My favorite cities are the cities I got pussy in. There’s weed in every city. So, [I liked] Seattle, L.A., Miami— I’m a nobody, like they’re on stage. They can get pussy easy.

Steve-O: He imports, He’s an importer.

Jonny Shipes: I import.

How Does the Bud Situation Work Out On the Bus?


Smoke DZA: It’s definitely not a big party with [everyone passing it around)]. I can tell you that. Everybody’s pretty selfish with their goods. It’s every man for himself. Of course, we always smoke with each other, if someone’s in dire need of some pot, but we all have our own little bunches of what we have. It depends. Everybody’s got different relationships. Me and Shiest, we may smoke every blunt, joint together. But it’s not like that for everybody. Me and Spitta, we always got our own weed, so we always smoking personals. K.R.I.T.’s not a big smoker like that, so he’ll partake every now and then along with his drink, but he’s not really trying to indulge in that shit as much.

Shiest Bubz: When I’m on tour, everything’s good, man. Purple City’s known state to state so it’s all good. We good when we on the road. It’s really just me and Smoke anyway, smoking it down. Johnny Shipes when he’s around.

Steve-O: Me and John have a type of balance. So he’ll get super high and I’ll be super calm and I’m super stressed and then he keeps me calm because he’s so calm. So I know everything’s straight.

Jonny Shipes: At this point, too, you hit a certain city, you don’t even have to—this is important to put in the interview so the police will leave us alone— ou don’t have to travel with the weed on the bus because you can go city to city and you know the smokers in each city and you just get hooked up. So there’s no weed on the bus. There is no weed on the bus.

How Do They Pass Time on the Road?


Jonny Shipes: We smoke and joke...

Steve-O: …and play video games.

Shiest Bubz: That’s what they do.

Jonny Shipes: He dances to SBTRKT [pointing at Shiest].

Steve-O: Shiest has the whole back area, that’s his domain.

Jonny Shipes: [Shiest] takes over.

Steve-O: For real, you don’t go in the back area. Because you will go back and it will look like 155th and fucking Amsterdam with Dutch guts everywhere, you got the weed, it’s Purple City everywhere.

Steve-O: And then the front of the bus is for the non-smokers. So that’s like K.R.I.T., the DJs who don’t smoke, they’ll just sit there and watch movies.

Jonny Shipes: [Having] non-smokers on the tour doesn’t sound right, but to me at least, [it makes sense]. K.R.I.T.’s more of a drinker than a smoker, but he gets fucked up. If you get fucked up, you can be part of this crew.

Shiest Bubz: Smoker’s drink, too. So he’s accepted with that.

Jonny Shipes: The time is spent smoking, joking, playing video games and fucking bugging on each other.

Jonny Shipes: Or I can like dress up in like a crazy costume and like wild out in Walmart or some shit like that.

Steve-O: Walmart is very exciting for us.

Rules For Survival On The Bus:


Jonny Shipes: We had rules. Like, you better take your shit, your piss all that shit before we move this bus. Because once the bus gets moving, we’re not stopping. You can’t shit in the bathroom.

Steve-O: Johnny’s very serious about his bunk. You cannot put anything in his bunk, you can’t sleep in his bunk by mistake.

Jonny Shipes: I don’t even wanna say the name. I had to step to somebody like, I found him sleeping in my bunk, I was like, “What the fuck are you doing?”

Shiest Bubz: And hygiene is crucial on the bus. City to city we got hotels, luxury hotels, you know how that go. We just spray them [smelly] niggas down when they sleeping.

Jonny Shipes: If you stink, you will get Febreezed.

Steve-O: Febreze your whole shirt, no lie. You won’t even know though.

Shiest Bubz: You’ll be sleep like, “Damn, I was sweating.” Moist back; Febreze back.

Defining Moments:


Steve-O: For me, it’s the first show. The first show it was like, “We can really do this in real life.” It’s hard to put on a tour. We stress and argue all the time about who’s gonna put on the dates, who’s gonna book the tour. How we gonna market it and promote it, once we get on the road, how we gonna shoot the footage, book, clothing line. So for us to do one random show in SXSW and turn it in to a real brand is like a defining moment to me.

Jonny Shipes: Yeah, I was about to say the same shit. To me, looking back from where it started. And it really started deeper than just the show. Like with Shiest and myself and DZA—to know where you really came from, Like, oh shit, “We got a clothing line for real with Mark Ecko, we partnered with Ecko on a whole clothing line that’s just Smoker’s Club." We’re doing our third year of the tour. And like, in real life, I didn’t go to college, I’m literally a class clown pothead that never went to school—none of that shit. And I’m proud to say that and know that I did something successful. I feel like looking from beginning to right now, makes me be like, “Aight, we did something.” Like if this tour could go the next ten years, people are gonna talk about the Smoker’s Club like Up in Smoker or whatever. I feel like we did something cool for the community that we come from.

Smoke DZA: The end of every show when we get to kick it with the fans and tell them thank you. To see the expressions on their faces when they see us walking back to the bus or when we come back out on the stage and we’re all just out their signing shit, taking pictures. Just getting the love from them shows we did our part. I look forward to embracing my fans and giving back.

Shiest Bubz: I mean, the whole thing. Every show is a defining moment. 'Cause where I started from with the bud to doing tours and doing shows, it's just proof.

On Smoke DZA, 2010-2012:


Jonny Shipes: To me, the best [DZA] story was Krsytal’s. There’s a place down south called Krystal’s, it’s like the White Castle of the south. I just remember Smoke DZA having to pull the bus over. And I have a picture of him that you can go look on my Facebook to this day. He’s in the back first like, “I can’t move, I can’t move.” So he gets up and I’m like, “Yo, what’s wrong?" 'Cause that’s like one of my best friends, I was really nervous. So he gets up, the whole bus stops, he’s in the shitter for 30 minutes. Comes back, I have a picture of him and his face is like—he looks like he’s about to die. And then he turns back around and goes back to the bathroom for like another 30 minutes.

Shiest Bubz: Do not go to Krsytal’s, it will be Krsytal’s coming out ya ass, pause.

Jonny Shipes: I thought he was gonna die, I was really nervous for my brother.

Smoke DZA: I didn’t eat the burgers, I ate the chicken. K.R.I.T. was endorsing this chicken like, “This chicken is the truth.” It was the hottest fucking chicken in the world. I’ve never had chicken like that. And no food period should ever do that to a person, how it did me. I was in the back of the bus struggling. K.R.I.T.’s tryna talk me through it, going back with the bus driver looking for a rest stop. It was a fucked up moment for me. A lot of people got laughs out of it, you know they took pictures of my face. These fucking jokers, they don’t know how it feels to eat something fucked up. Gotta get it out your system.

On Big K.R.I.T., 2010-2011:


Jonny Shipes: K.R.I.T. is a sore loser, man. Don’t play him in NBA 2K, 'cause you’re gonna beat him. Because he will look at you like—first of all, I literally thought the man was gonna fire me. I beat him, and I literally thought he was gonna fire me afterwards. He shut the game off, he threw his controller, he wouldn’t speak to me. I feel like I only beat him by like one. He does not like to lose, which I respect. That’s probably why he’s so amazing musically.

Smoke DZA: Anytime I think about a video game, I think of K.R.I.T. 'Cause me and that kid is like the most competitive people when it comes to video games. We’ll play all day, beat each other, talk shit, get mad at each other—it will trickle down into the day. The common denominator or arguments would be about the game. And it will just lead us back to playing again. We’ll draw a crowd. Pass the time playing PS3, or the Xbox or watching The Wire or watching Friday, watching old Black movies and shit like fucking Black Dynamite and Three the Hard Way and shit.

On Method Man, 2011:


Smoke DZA: Meth is an OG, so first and foremost, he kind of was one of the forefathers for the whole marijuana movement. So, having him involved and having him stamp the movement, it was golden for us because that’s what we aim for, to keep going and evolve the whole Smoker’s Club thing. Fucking with Meth was a humbling experience. I got to watch and got to really see how to really work the crowd. And, you know, it was a big humbling experience because Meth was the big homie and he showed a lot of love. It was pretty cool to be on the road with Meth and get that camaraderie.

Steve-O: Meth; just watching a legend perform. Because originally, I’ma keep it 100, I was iffy about having Meth. We wanted to keep the tour young. We big on like building younger brands. So they convinced me to fuck with Meth on the tour. And then Meth came out there, night in night out, and literally performed the best show ever. He proved me wrong. He was walking on the crowd. He did things I never seen an artist do. An artist, not just a rapper, an artist do. The biggest show was in Arizona—I take all the photos for Smoker’s Club—and he was walking in the crowd. And they really had him in the air, and I took a photo that was like, I guess is iconic, because Jimmy Fallon ended up like showing it on TV and shit like that and just talking about the tour. And they showed that photo. I got the credit, I got my crown on the side.

On Juicy J, 2012:


Jonny Shipes: I do drugs, and I’m turnt up so [getting Juicy], that shit to me, was like, “Yes.” Everything I do in life gotta be a representation of me. Juicy J, I fuck with his music in real life, like I was excited. When our booking agent told us we could get Juicy, it was like a no-brainer. He gets fucked up, I know that’s somebody that, even if it’s doesn’t turn into some second tour shit, I could see that being a fun tour. For the fans, for us, it’s just a good vibe to me.

Steve-O: Juicy J reinvented himself. He came back. He went from Three 6 Mafia to Juicy J. And he’s young again. And it feels real. It’s not forced or nothing. And I feel like everybody who jumps on the tour, it’s always organic. It just happens. It just makes sense. It just feels right.

Shiest Bubz: You say no to bud, Shiest Bubz can’t. Ya dig? I fuck with the boy, nah mean? It’s gon' be crazy. It’s gon' be real trippy, real hazy, real soury.

SD: Juicy is the ultimate showman. He has a very strong catalog of hits so I’m looking forward to touring with him. And this years kind of different because I’m approaching it like seniority. Because Juicy got his own bus, but then the bus with me Joey and the rest of the crew, these guys are kind of new the tour so I’m kind of the guy that’s been around the block a little bit so I’m pretty much just walking them through. Joey is my little brother, he’s part of the movement so I’m definitely gonna be walking him through a lot of shit. Helping him out.

On Joey Bada$$, 2012:


Smoke DZA: I see a lot of myself in him. When I was younger—he’s like way more advanced. Like, there’s no 17-year-old rappers like him, first and foremost. He raps better than a lot of people twice his age. Joey’s such a special artist, he just gets it. Not to many young guys get it, and he’s really locked in, working on his craft, making shit better.

Shiest Bubz: Joey’s the new young blood, nah mean? He’s under aged, but he’s the youth of our movement. So he’s getting that look, early.

Steve-O: It’s just gonna be crazy because he’s literally under aged. So we feel like parents on the low. Just like, “Yo, make sure he’s safe.” We don’t wanna have him missing randomly and have to call his mother.”

Shiest Bubz: There’s a parent teacher’s conference every day up here at the Smoker’s Club. [Laughs.]

Jonny Shipes: I talk to his mom a lot. She’s actually mad cool, she’s just going in stride with it all. That’s like the little bro, you know what I mean? Joey, that’s like the little bro. And he’s mad talented, it’s gonna be fun, he’s a good kid.

On Fat Trel, 2012:


Jonny Shipes: To me, and if you’re familiar with Trel’s music, it just was a match. I’m a real fan of Fat Trel. That’s the thing, we try to make the tour really what we fuck with. I’m a Fat Trel fan, before I even started working with him, it was like I reached out on some fan shit. I heard the shit and I was like, “Yo, I heard your shit." And I think he’s only gonna get bigger. And one thing Smoker’s Club has been able to do is break artists. So, hopefully this helps Trel, Joey, DZA’s basically already broken but—we’ve been ahead of the curve with shit. DZA, Big K.R.I.T., Curren$y, hopefully it just continues.

Shiest Bubz: I fuck with Trel. I fuck with his music, I fuck with him. Shout out to DC, DMV—it’s gonna be a good tour.

Steve-O: We kind seen what Trel can do. It’s kinda like we watched Trel as a prospect. Smoke brought him out—

Shiest Bubz: That was too retarded. He was like Jay-Z. A thousand people.

Steve-O: When Fat Trel came out, they showed him so much love in DC. So, he was like a blue chip. Like, “Yeah, okay, you gon' be on the tour next year."