San Francisco native, Gilbert Milam Jr., better known in the rap game as Berner, has worked hard to become one of the Bay Area greats, alongside the likes of E-40, Mac Dre and Too $hort. Berner independently produced his first album in 2007, and has released several each year since. With his latest album, La Plaza, dropping on 11/11 of 2019, Berner stays busy and relevant in the industry. Constantly venturing into new territory with his music, Berner has an impressive list of artist collaborations on his resume, ranging from rap legends Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg and B-Real, to production giants Scott Storch, RZA and Cozmo.
A self-made entrepreneur, Berner doesn’t stop at music. As founder and partner of several companies ranging from the Cannabis industry to a lifestyle clothing brand, his work ethic and innovative drive are hard to match. Keep your eyes on Berner, he is just getting started.
Wiz Khalifa knew about Berner before Berner knew about Wiz Khalifa.
It was 2009, and Berner was a rising Bay Area rapper and buyer for the legendary Cannabis Club in his hometown of San Francisco. When he heard that a budding rap star named Khalifa wanted to come through, he googled him, then rolled a fat joint.
“He told me, ‘I saw the Smoke-A-Thon. You’re crazy,’” Berner recalls, laughing.
For almost 10 years, Berner has been hip-hop’s most trusted source. His track record not only in producing marijuana mood music, but also steering the most discerning of smokers to the latest new strains and products in the marijuana industry is unimpeachable. Put more simply? Berner is THE weed man.
“I’m not gonna say I can smoke the most weed, but I’m saying I’m gonna bring the best fucking weed to the table,” he says. “I’ll take the Pepsi challenge with any of y’all. [On Smoke-A-Thon] I was showing plants, I kinda shut everybody down. They weren’t about that life.”
Berner decidedly is about it. The founder/co-owner of popular apparel company Cookies SF, he knew he was onto something when he made 100 of the hoodies he wore in his “Yoko” video, which featured Khalifa, Big KRIT and Chris Brown. He priced them at $100 a pop—and watched them sell out in 10 minutes. He was in business. Cookies Clothing online sales average $200k a month, they’re projecting one million dollars for their fall order.
Since then, his empire has flourished. Cookies SF has moved over 60,000 units, and he’s expanded to include innovative smoking accessories such as odorless laptop bags. In 2014, the entrepreneur launched a new brand of organic herbal beverages called Hemp20, which went from selling 200k bottles to 500k bottles a month, and he recently partnered to launch marijuana.com, a fusion of Yelp and Instagram for the medical marijuana community. Berner’s clever business sense combined his lifestyle and music to create unique fan experiences at his shows—they can purchase tickets to his “Chief & Greets,” where they get to smoke with him.
As an added bonus, Berner has used his green power to strengthen his music ties, and he’s dropped a whopping 14 albums to date. During high school, the budding entrepreneur born Gilbert Anthony Mano had begun playing around and battlerapping for fun. In 2006, he dropped his first mixtape Dirty Sneakers. His first solo album, Weekend at Bernie’s, arrived in 2009, along with four other albums.
One of the creators of the universally popular strain Girl Scout Cookies, Berner’s reputation precedes him, and rappers regularly seek him out as a knowledgeable and dependable source. After Khalifa’s first visit to the Cannabis Club, Berner cemented their friendship when he brought a 5-foot-tall flowered weed plant onstage as a gift. During 2011’s SXSW, Khalifa signed Berner to his Taylor Gang label.
Running parallel to Berner’s success in business is his musical ascent. He’s worked with numerous legends in the game, from Cypress Hill’s B-Real, Project Pat and Tha Jacka to Ty Dolla $ign, DJ Mustard and Chris Brown. This year alone, he will release another three projects: Contraband with Cam’ron, Drought Season 3 with the recently deceased Bay Area legend Tha Jacka and his solo album, Hempire. He boasts 417,000 Instagram followers, who turned out in droves for his sold-out Under the Influence of Music Tour alongside Khalifa, A$AP Rocky, Trinidad Jame$ and Joey Bada$$–and his 4/20 shows in the Bay are one of the highlights of the year.
Fortunately, his companies and his rapping career go hand in hand. “Through music, I have a platform. I’m really from the medical marijuana industry. People respect my brand,” he says. “One of my teachers had us write a letter about what we wanted to do, and I wrote that I could be successful in any path I chose.” Indeed.
Berner Invites Us Into His Hazy Domain With the Video For Bilingual Banger “Box Boy”
Berner Connects with Eladio Carrión in Paradise in the Reggaeton-Inflected “No Borders” Video
Cookies SF Founder Berner Reports from Weed’s Wild West with La Plaza, His 36th Studio Album
Berner & Mozzy Flex Their Storytelling Muscles in the Harrowing “3 Deep”
West Coast Marijuana Magnate Berner Announces Star-Studded La Plaza LP, Drops Video with Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa
🍁🎬 Marijuana Mogul/Rapper Berner Taps Daniel Ragussis, Writer/Director of “Imperium,” to Direct Upcoming Weed Thriller “Packs” 🍁🎬
Marijuana Magnate Berner Rolls Out the Green Carpet For Quavo, Wiz Khalifa, and Others on Packs, His New Album
Berner & Cypress Hill’s B-Real Do It For The Bud and Spread Their Brand of California Love
Marijuana Magnate Berner Explores Seattle in the Third Installment of His “Marijuana Mania” YouTube Series
Berner and Cypress Hill’s B-Real Drop Prohibition 3 One Week Early, React to New Marijuana Legislation
Berner Enlists Wiz Khalifa for “Gunplay” Remix, Best Thang Smokin’ Tour Continues
Marijuana Maven Berner Releases Second Installment of His “Marijuana Mania” YouTube Series
Rapper/Entrepreneur Berner Drops “Bern One” Featuring Members of Travis Porter, Prepares For Imminent Album Release
Taylor Gang Rapper and Cookies SF CEO Berner Drops His 22nd Album Hempire, Announces National Tour