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The Rise of Snoop Lion

For the past few years, Snoop Dogg had become somewhat of a caricature of his former self. Snoop Dogg of the new millennium was no longer as “thug” or as “hard” as the Snoop Dogg of the 90’s. He began appearing on MTV Cribs, The View and even forayed into the sex-trade world as a pimp. Like, as a legitimate pimp.  While Snoop always remained on top of the charts and continued to sell albums, his music seemed to stagnate. If you are not sure if that is a fair or accurate assessment, please see his song “Wet” released in 2011. However, although his music may have slipped, Snoop the man has remained as charismatic as always. His sheepish smile, his sometimes (read: always) confusing way of speaking and his obvious loving nature garnered him international fame and extremely loyal fans. As soon as Snoop hit the charts in the early 90’s, I was a fan and despite his life choices (uh, the pimp thing), he seemed sincere and honest and it was extremely difficult to dislike him.

Flash-forward to 2012 where Snoop Dogg announced a name change, now known as Snoop Lion, and a musical shift, plans to release a reggae album. Shock! Horror! Gimmick! But maybe not.  Reincarnation is the story of Snoop Lion’s journey into the Rastafari movement. Snoop is not just making a new album, he is making serious changes to his life as well. The documentary shows Snoop first stepping foot in Jamaica with an eager desire to understand the roots of reggae. He not only consults reggae pioneers but also engages with the locals in hearing what the music means to them and how it has shaped the foundation of being Jamaican. It is here where we see the ever-charismatic Snoop as he listens and partakes in the Jamaican lifestyle. He is polite, studious and beyond respectful. He not only wants to create an authentic album but also wants to embark on a new lifestyle that will finally bring him the peace and love that he has been trying to exhibit in his music since leaving Death Row Records in 1998.

Reincarnation is quite fascinating to watch. Laden with Snoop’s music throughout, both old and new, the documentary shows Snoop in a new light. He is still charming and loving but he is also unguarded and candid in his explanations for his past behaviour. It was interesting to hear him talk about the death of Tupac Shakur and the demise of his own image as a thug by simply stating that it was never something that he truly wanted. There are some amusing moments too, especially involving is cousin Daz Dillinger who just can’t seem to get enough of the Jamaican herb.

The story presented in Reincarnated is Snoop’s attempt to display that while he is fully aware of his past and who he is as a person, he is also, just like everyone else, able to change his path.  And Snoop Lion’s path is one of peace, love and, of course, copious amounts of herb.