Forward movement or not, fronto has a history that goes way back, according to Natty. “This crop has been cultivated for ages, more than just what we call smoking consumption,” he says. “It was also used for spiritual cleansing.”
Health and creating a clean product are a big concern for Natty and his Ragga Grabba fronto company, especially as corporate blunt wrap makers hover around the margins of his business. Although he acknowledges that “tobacco can also cause ill health if it’s not properly consumed or overdone without proper cleansing,” Natty also saw fronto as a cleaner alternative to Backwoods and other Big Tobacco blunt wraps. “All these processed chemical products out there are creating nothing more than destruction to human health,” he tells me. For Natty, it was Ragga Grabba’s “obligated duty” to provide customers with “one of cleanest, most organic, purest tobacco leaf.”
Kush backs that up, explaining how Natty ensured purity by overseeing every aspect of his business himself. He purchases his raw Ragga Grabba fronto from America’s tobacco belt, processing, cleaning, and steaming the leaves in his own apartment to guarantee quality and consistency.
In the fronto market, however, I learn that duty extends beyond the product, with Kush seeing raw tobacco leaf profits as something he’d like to keep within his own community. “We’re the top users of fronto,” he says. “And as far as being black, I’d just like to own stuff that we use every day. Everything is already taken up by the majors, toothpaste and so on. At least we can get some fronto going.”
That’s why he’s teaming up with his friend, Jahroe — a fellow entrepreneur who owns three successful Veggies Natural Juice Bars throughout Brooklyn — to form a Ragga Grabba spinoff fronto company. “I’m going to call it Natty Fronto,” Kush says.
Because Jahroe also worked as a distributor for Natty at Ragga Grabba, “[walking] around with pounds of fronto on him,” they saw an opportunity to have their own “little in-house” brand. “What we decided to do is package the fronto, just like how everybody is packaging marijuana,” Kush clarifies, referring to using the graphic design skills and printing chops he’d honed through years grinding on his Kash and Kush label. “I want every deli in this neighborhood to have that shit,” Kush says. “I want it to be available. I’m going to make T-shirts, I’m going to make stickers, I’m just going to go full-on.” And with that, a new era for fronto is well under way.
Fronto. Fronto leaf. Whatever you call it, the raw, natural tobacco is Brooklyn drill’s favorite blunt wrap. Here's what it is and how it became a thing.