Millions of views, a shout-out on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and being honored by the Digital Download Queen herself: It’s easy to say TikTok sensation Kai Jmarii is living the dream, and the dancer readily agrees. But what he credits his success to might surprise many fans – the 21-year-old Bronx, New York native gets his inspiration from weed.
“I smoke and stuff before,” says Kai. “A lot of the time, my most viral videos went viral because I was high.”
Watch Kai Jmarii's interview for video for Rebelle x Honeysuckle's Need Weed Artist Series:
Kai Jmarii's Popularity on TikTok
Kai, a TikTok creator known for his often comedic dance videos, is one of the faces lighting up the Need Weed campaign by cannabis brand Rebelle. The women-led brand is known for its flagship dispensary in Great Barrington, Massachusetts close to New York, and for its wide array of products that craft cannabis adventures to be both intensely personal for consumers and healing for body and mind. With Need Weed, Rebelle and Honeysuckle set out on a series of artist interviews to answer the question: Why does cannabis unlock our creativity?
For Kai, it’s all about the freedom the plant brings. Most of his TikTok dance videos incorporate an element of parody, whether it’s a remix of the Netflix “Ta-Dum” sound or the theme songs to Law & Order and Friends. But though he notes that dance has helped him focus and take life more seriously, he says when it comes to his art, it’s purely being in the moment rather than overthinking it.
“When I smoke weed, I freestyle,” he explains. “I come up with different moves. A lot of the time, when I’m thinking about videos, I be high, you know what I’m saying? It just opens me to different types of moves and I love how music sounds when I’m high. These videos I do, these are all off the top, all freestyle. I don’t choreograph before, I don’t think… I go outside and I literally just – whatever comes to mind, I’m gonna do.”
Kai Jmarii Dance Videos, Rihanna, and Achievement
It seems to be this very free-spirited nature that has attracted fans across the world to Kai’s content. Not just Black TikTok or even the TikTok Nation in a more general sense, but audiences of all ages and particularly industry professionals are taking note of the dancer. Kai first went viral when media platform The Shade Room shared his TikTok of dancing to the Hip Hop Harry trend. That video garnered over 2 million views, and soon artists like Megan Thee Stallion and Chance the Rapper were taking note. Ellen DeGeneres featured one of his dance videos on her show, and her guest that day, choreographer tWitch, claimed Kai was his inspiration.
Rihanna, who follows Kai on Instagram, paid him the ultimate compliment. “Thanks for making us all smile every day,” she wrote to him in a DM.
The TikTok Creator on Blackness and Sexuality
According to Kai, dancing has helped him explore different cultures through art. He recalls that his mother won a free class for him when he was 11 years old, and it was then that he knew he wanted to be a professional dancer and choreographer. Training in various styles from salsa to ballet to hip hop, he saw it as an opportunity to expand his future.
“Being Black, you have to work extra hard to get to the top or to do what you want,” Kai comments, noting that he faces additional pressure as an openly gay man. “I do this to show people that you can get and be and do who you are, and still be successful being gay, you know what I mean? Show Black boys – not even Black boys, all across different nationalities – if you’re gay, just be open with it, no matter what nobody [sic] says… I just think everybody should be free in being who they are. I don’t think sexuality should play a part in how you feel about somebody or how you act toward somebody.”
No stigmas have appeared to stand in Kai’s way, at least not recently. This fall, he achieved a personal goal of performing at the Rolling Loud music festival with rapper Dream Doll. He believes things can only get bigger and better from here.
“My dream is to be a dancer, but also a choreographer,” he confirms. “My dream – I’m living it right now, to be honest.”
Watch Kai Jmarii's video for Rebelle x Honeysuckle's Need Weed Artist Series:
Why Does Kai Jmarii Need Weed?
So one might conclude it’s a liberating experience to Need Weed. In Kai Jmarii’s case, his connection to cannabis brings new insights and levels to his art again and again.
“I just created these moves,” he reflects with a grin. “People were like… ‘How did you do that?’ I’m just like, ‘Honestly, the weed made me just discover and create.’”