Politics is a whole world in itself, but there’s something about Gary Chambers that we can’t get enough of. You may recognize his face from his video that went completely viral, unofficially declaring his place as the first politician to smoke a blunt in his campaign ad.
At 36 years old, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana native lives by the motto “Do Good, Seek Justice,” and that’s exactly what he’s doing in an attempt to decriminalize marijuana laws and seek prison reform for Black people who are locked up on weed charges. Instantly sparking a new conversation surrounding cannabis, Chambers is a proud Democrat, social justice activist, and father, seeing the flower as “a beneficial drug” that can be medicinal for all.
Chambers hosted a Wake and Bake fundraiser at The Big House in Los Angeles, raising awareness for not only himself (as he aims to unseat Republican Senator John Kennedy), but also the importance of justice and social equality.
AllHipHop: What was a young Gary like growing up in Baton Rouge?
Gary Chambers Jr: I’d say a pretty normal life. I was raised in a middle class family, went to good schools, and had a pretty decent life as a kid. My parents are a huge part of my life today and they were phenomenal parents to me.
AllHipHop: How’d you get into politics?
Gary Chambers Jr: Actually by accident. I was in advocacy because some things in my community weren’t going the way I thought they should. I started speaking up on those things. When I met my politicians, I realized that I could do a little bit better and put myself up for service.
AllHipHop: Did you study? How did you get involved?
Gary Chambers Jr: Just being involved: showing up to meetings, being in the community. You learn the issues the more meetings you go to. The more you show up, the more people recognize what’s going on. The more you recognize what’s going on, you have ideas about how you fix it. That’s all being a politician is.
AllHipHop: How does it feel to be running your third time for office?
Gary Chambers Jr: It feels good, it’s different for sure. We’ve got support all over the country, and people like you showing up with the grass today. [laughs] But Free the Tree, it’s a conversation we want to help lead and getting to the point of full legalization. It impacts a lot of people, but it’s also big businesses. We need the justice side, but we also need the equity side. I want to help lead those conversations not just in cannabis, but in health care and environmental justice. Paying all other areas.
AllHipHop: It’s crazy, I just interviewed Freeway Rick Ross yesterday. We talked about how f##### up it is that people are locked up for weed. How does that make you feel and what needs to happen?
Gary Chambers Jr: It’s wrong. The feeling I have is we need to do the things necessary to get it adjusted. That’s why we made it a critical point of our policies to come out with.
AllHipHop: Talk about your ad going viral, “37 Seconds.” Did you anticipate that?
Gary Chambers Jr: We thought we’d get maybe a million views. We didn’t know we’d get 6 million on our page, then it’s been probably viewed 30 million times on social media when we looked at all the different platforms it’s been shared on. The reality is it shows you how much people are impacted by this because it’s not just “it’s such a great ad,” it connects to so many people.
AllHipHop: What was your goal in creating it? Because I saw that it only took 5 minutes to film.
Gary Chambers Jr: To cut through the noise, to try to be a part of the national conversation. To get people to pay attention to Louisiana, to get people to recognize that this race is winnable there. I think we’ve been effectively doing that.
AllHipHop: What does Louisiana mean to you?
Gary Chambers Jr: Everything. I can move anywhere in the world I want to move. I choose to live in Baton Rouge because I believe in growing where I’m planted and making that community thrive. We go to other places and we make those cities and places great. I want to see us do the same thing for Louisiana.
AllHipHop: Talk about your favorite musician. Who do you listen to?
Gary Chambers Jr: I don’t get into that game. I don’t have a favorite artist. If you ask me what I listen to all the time, it can be a mixture of Frankie Beverly, Chance the Rapper. I’m pretty eclectic.
AllHipHop: How was it getting Big Freedia to support?
Gary Chambers Jr: That was dope. It was a lot of work, but once we got Freedia, Freedia was all in and hugely supportive of the work that we do. I’m a huge fan and bounce music is huge in Louisiana, so having Freedia’s support was big.
AllHipHop: Talk about doing this fundraiser event today at The Big House. What does it mean to be in LA?
Gary Chambers Jr: I’m excited. I think we’ve got a good group of people here. Some elected officials from California are here in support of us and I’m appreciative of that. Louis and the team here have done a great job to help us get in the position. We got to raise a lot of money, we’re running against a man with 10 million dollars. California tends to be very supportive of progressive policies and so, you go where the money at. Where the money resides!