//Bringing Berner Back

Bringing Berner Back

By Dave Fountinelle | dave@fresnoflyer.com

The last time Brad Jaurique brought hip-hop artist Berner to Fresno’s Woodward Park, back in 2014, the event caused quite an uproar with some residents. Held on 4/20 – a counterculture holiday celebrating cannabis consumption – and nicknamed “The Fresno Smokeout,” the concert outraged a number of parents and health advocates, who called upon city officials to shut down the performance. However, due to the willingness of the promoters and performers to follow the law and abide by venue rules, law enforcement refused. Critics demanded stricter regulations be put in place to prevent future cannabis-themed events from being held there. When the smoke cleared, the concert proceeded without incident, and by all accounts, was a huge success. Attendees were well-behaved, the Fresno Police Department reported no major disturbances, and within days the controversy had faded into a hazy memory.

Fast forward to 2021, and the landscape in Fresno is vastly different than it was seven years ago. With the legalization of recreational cannabis in California, attitudes regarding cannabis culture and the promotion of smoke-friendly events have changed significantly. Many of the parents who publicly criticized The Fresno Smokeout in 2014 are likely regular customers of the cannabis delivery services. These services currently supply Fresno connoisseurs in the absence of storefront dispensaries within the city. For Jourique, the change in attitudes is as striking as it is encouraging. 

“It’s funny how many of the same people who came out against The Fresno Smokeout back in 2014 are now pro-cannabis and even applying for licenses to open dispensaries now,” he muses.

Indeed, with Fresno currently in the middle of a lengthy and controversy-laden licensing process that will ultimately bring 21 cannabis dispensaries to the city in 2022, the contrast in public opinion between then and now couldn’t be any sharper. And for Berner in particular, that shift in attitude is especially noteworthy as he is among those vying for one of Fresno’s dispensary licenses. 

Berner is the founder and co-owner of Cookies, a popular and successful cannabis, clothing, and lifestyle company, with dispensaries all over California. With council approval, his next storefront will be in the same city that had once debated imposing regulations to prevent him from performing there again.

This time, it won’t be Woodward Park that hosts Berner’s return to Fresno but Chukchansi Park instead. On July 10th, Jaurique brought Snow Tha Product to the venue. And despite it being one of the hottest days of the year and less than a month after the state reopened for live concerts, over 2,000 people were in attendance. The Fresno show made it one of Snow’s most successful dates on her tour. Jaurique hopes to strike gold once again when he brings Berner back to Fresno to perform there on September 11th. 

In addition to launching one of the country’s most successful cannabis culture brands, Berner has built a prolific and successful career as a rapper and record label founder. Signed to Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang Entertainment label since 2012, Berner has released 16 albums, with several of them charting on the Billboard R&B and Hip-Hop charts. In addition to his solo work, Berner has also collaborated with several chart-topping hip hop artists, including The Jacka, B-Real Cam’ron, Styles P, Young Dolph, and Mozzy. Berner has worked hard to be one of the greats in the Bay Area hip-hop scene, working with successful hit-making producers like Scott Storch, RZA, and Cozmo. Berner hopes that his success can inspire other Latinx artists and encourage them to follow their dreams and never give up.

Rapper and Producer E-40

Along with Berner, Jaurique is bringing Bay Area legend E-40 to join the bill. E-40 has released 28 albums over his 30+ year career as a chart-topping rapper and producer. In addition to his successful rap career, E-40 is also a mogul in the beverage industry. He released an energy drink brand called “40 Water” in 2007. He followed up with a successful foray into winemaking under his real name – Earl Stevens. In 2015, Stevens launched a line of malt liquor, called simply “E-40”. Fresno hip hop fans have always embraced Bay Area artists, and E-40 is no exception. His performances here consistently sell out, and Jaurique expects the September 11th show with Berner to have an equally impressive turnout. 

Jaurique has one more special surprise for the fans that he’s especially excited to announce. The promoter is good friends with Lil Eazy, the son of late NWA founder Eazy E. September 7th marks Eazy E’s birthday, and Jaurique is proud to host Lil Eazy on the lineup for the 11th. He’ll perform along with another legendary NWA member, DJ Yella. Lil Eazy is currently starring on the WE network reality show “Growing Up Hip Hop” and just released a new album and a single.

Jaurique is a local Fresnan who has been promoting concerts and events in the city for over 12 years. His goal is to continue bringing big-name artists and tours to Fresno; a market often passed over in favor of Los Angeles and the Bay Area. 

Jaurique is also introducing his sons to the business. His oldest son Bradley Jr. recently graduated from Fresno State with a bachelor’s in business marketing and is on his way to law school to study entertainment law. His son Julian is currently attending Fresno State, studying finance accounting. Jaurique plans to bring his sons on board to expand the business beyond concert and event promotion to include entertainment and sports management services

“I would like to continue to focus on downtown Fresno to host these concerts,” Jaurique continues, “I want to bring these shows and the money that follows with them to the communities that have always supported hip-hop.”

After a nearly two-year moratorium on live events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fresno music fans are more than eager for big-name concerts to come back to the city. Combined with the significant shift in public opinion and acceptance of cannabis since its legalization, Berner’s return to Fresno is shaping up to be Jaurique’s most successful event to date. 

Tickets are on sale now at the Fresno Grizzlies box office or online at https://www.milb.com/fresno/tickets/events-at-the-ballpark.