LA Rapper PKnuckle, aka Paul Demirjian, has been working in weed since the late 90s, growing and selling the OG Kush strains that his hometown of the San Fernando Valley became known for. He’s also developed weed brands, street clothing brands, and got national radio play as a musician. Now PKnuckle is pushing his own brand, Dope Kings, and his line of high-end boutique cannabis, Palm Trees by PKnuckle.
PKnuckle’s brand Dope Kings has long been tied to music and clothing.
“One thing led to another, a great idea for music turned into the merch, which ultimately turned into a lifestyle brand,” PKnuckle said. “It just kept morphing and morphing over the past four or five years,” he said.
PKnuckle started producing CDs independently with his brother in the late 90s.
“We have deep roots in this independent music business game,” PKnuckle said.
He dropped music on his own label Dope Kings and that led to success in the music industry.
“That in turn got me signed independently through Universal, ultimately got me signed to Empire on a distribution deal for myself and my label and I’ve ended up getting national radio play,” he said.
Over the past two decades, PKnuckle has worked simultaneously in weed, music, and apparel.
“All these avenues play off each other. Music, clothing, weed, back and forth,” PKnuckle said.
PKnuckle said that he was always known for quality, no matter what avenue he pursued.
“Presentation comes first. The devil’s in the details. Quality is first, money is last,” he said. “These are the things that I carried all through everything I did.”
Palm Trees by PKnuckle
Around 2015, when weed started to become branded and packaged for dispensaries, PKnuckle was one of the first to get in on the wave of branding weed. He collaborated with Xzibit, first on music and then in creating a weed brand called Napalm.
He says that at first people didn’t get what they were trying to do with branding. It was too new.
PKnuckle was also tasked by B Real to create and launch the brand Insane.
Both brands have proven to be successful, even as he felt somewhat slighted by both experiences in that he eventually was cut out of the brands.
His response was to go all in with Dope Kings and to launch Palm Trees by PKnuckle, a high-end connoisseur cannabis brand.
PKnuckle says that inspiration struck him when he was feeling frustrated with the industry.
“Being in that low point, with my back against the wall, is when I came with that explosive force that was more personal, a personal experience,” he said.
“I was like, okay, it’s Palm Trees by PKnuckle. I want people to hear the name and know that it is me and know that this will be the next big thing,” he said. “That was my whole mindset.”
Palm Trees by PKnuckle’s debut strain is Rainbow Cake, which is a new cultivar, he says (it’s a cross of Rainbow Belts and Wedding Cake).
“It’s a new cross that we brought to the marketplace, so it’s not owned by anyone but my grow team.”
The response so far has been great, with shops selling out of each small batch drop.
He’s also just launched Palm Trees OG, which he says are “pure Kush cuts, 20-30 years old,” coming from his days in the San Fernando Valley.
PKnuckle says that the brand is authentic to him as someone who’s been at the forefront of weed in LA for several decades.
“Just like fine bourbon from Kentucky, we really take pride in having something that we enjoy, a lifelong commitment to a product that we enjoy, we love. I think that what I stand for more than the profit aspect. This is what we’re known for,” PKnuckle said.
The brand dropped in the Lemonnade dispensary in December and has expanded to being in dozens of shops in the LA region.
Back in the Day
PKnuckle comes from an Armenian family and was born in Queens, New York, where lived until the age of 5. His family moved to San Fernando Valley, which would eventually be ground zero for the OG Kush strain that made LA famous for weed. He grew it and sold it along with other groups in the area.
“I was the actual street guy, the street front guy that was not afraid to put his neck on the line and get it out to the public,” he said. He eventually made a name for himself. “We drew more and more attention and formed alliances with different crews that got bigger and bigger. This guy, that guy, you know, we made a name for ourselves from nothing,” he said of his early days selling.
He certainly got into trouble. But, he says, he was so focused that he was undeterred.
“They would arrest me and pretty much I would just pay the bail, get out and get right back to work, literally like the same night,” he said.
“I didn’t care, we were so business driven that we were not paying attention to a lot of our surroundings or repercussions of what we’re doing.”
He got charged multiple times.
“We’re talking about five felonies in a three-year span,” he said.
Before long, he landed 3 years in State Prison.
“Completed it and discharged and little by little got back involved” in weed, he said.
What he missed out on while stuck in prison was the switch that was being made from street selling to selling to medical dispensaries in Los Angeles. The world when he got out of prison had changed drastically in just a few years.
“When I paroled and came home I saw there were dispensaries everywhere in my area. It was very ‘culture shock’ for me. Even though that’s what I was involved with and that’s what I was known for, it was still a culture shock,” he said.
Because of his felonies, he was never able to get licensing.
He focused on growing the high-quality weed based on the OG Kush strain that he was known for, and on building his career as a rapper.
One Big Family
PKnuckle comes from the same era as others like Josh D, Wonderbrett, B Real, Kenji Fujishima, Rojo DeSantis, and other growers who were known for fire OG Kush.
He’s part of a larger story that takes place in LA.
“These are all guys I’ve known since those late teen years. It’s surfacing to the public but if we rewind back, all of us have a connected history together,” PKnuckle said.
Working with brands like Insane and Napalm in the early days of recreational weed happened because of this shared connection.
“There was a mutual love to start with, there’s a mutual respect to start with,” he said of working with people like B Real and Xzibit. “Creative minds. Let’s create together, let’s win together,” he said.
Now that brands have established themselves several years into the regulated weed game, PKnuckle says that he’s still happy to work with the guys he’s come up with over the decades.
“I feel like we’re all finding our own lanes and I’m proud of that. No one’s leaning on each other. Nobody’s using each other. I’m not down talking their brands, they’re not down talking my brand,” he said.
“Whatever happened is just building blocks and experiences for us to move forward.”