Release Date: Apr 23, 2013
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Reggae, Dub, Ragga, Contemporary Reggae
Like Willie Nelson before him, Snoop Dogg finally got so high he made a reggae album. Go ahead, laugh. It really is hilarious to hear him preaching Rastafarian gospel in a fake patois. But here's the thing: For all the easy jokes, Reincarnated is Snoop's most consistently enjoyable record in years ….
Snoop Lion arrives as the alter ego of veteran west coast rapper Snoop Dogg. Switching gears from a comfort zone of gangsta rap, Snoop’s 2013 effort Reincarnated, released via RCA, is a reggae album. Throughout the course of the 12-track set (16 tracks in deluxe form), Snoop Lion sings or pop-raps, never assimilating into his traditional MC flow. Another break with the past comes with Snoop’s eschewal of the infamous parental advisory label.
For over 20 years (and counting) Snoop Dogg has made a career by mixing a melodic drawl with his more aggressive, punctuated bars. It’s been a career that’s seen peaks both during and after his Death Row years as well as the valleys of at least one No Limit album some would just as soon forget. Both on and off the mic, Snoop has constantly reinvented himself—even at his worst when he’s opting to only rhyme basic phonetic vowel patterns.
Snoop Lion né Dogg’s reinvention from Death Row rapper to reggae Rastafarian is described on recent documentary Reincarnated as a spiritual adventure. Which is all well and good, but the musical results feel more like a touristy package holiday through Jamaican dub history. Blunt smoke-soaked organ lines slink around booming bass, as the Long Beach man muses on peace, love and lighting up.
Snoop Dogg has spent the last decade of his career building a persona based on intrinsic and intentional humor. So when he announced his metamorphosis into the reggae singer Snoop Lion last year while casually referred to himself as the reincarnation of Bob Marley, it was hard not to have a chuckle. The transformation seemed likely to blow over the same way Snoop’s stints as talk show host, sketch comedy actor and porn director did-- another half-remembered bit of listless bond diversification from a rap luminary grown bored of rapping.
After a trip to Jamaica, Snoop Dogg returned as Snoop Lion, a reformed reggae singer/dancehall rapper who had seen the Rastafarian light. Violence was now something to fight against, and while Biblical, vegetarian, and other bits of Ital living can be found on Snoop's first reggae album, Reincarnated, utilizing Diplo as his co-captain seems like an odd choice if you want to go the full Peter Tosh. Here, the kinetic electro producer is co-credited under his Major Lazer moniker, and while Snoop follows Burning Spear (his soft singing voice poetically damning violence and hoping for a better tomorrow throughout the album) and Diplo chases the cutting edge of cool (the choices of dancehall vocalists Mr.
It feels like forever since Snoop announced he was reinventing himself as a reggae artist. Now, finally, an album. But this lion may have bitten off more than he can chew. Executive-produced by Diplo and featuring myriad credible reggae artist guest spots, the album ultimately lacks cohesion ….
While the humanity and personal growth shown in Snoop Lion's Reincarnated documentary granted the legendary rapper some sympathetic cover for his dubious rebirth as a reggae-singing Rasta, the eponymous album at the heart of that story affords him no such luxury. The Diplo-directed record is a somewhat sloppy mish-mash of reggae cuts that rarely attain an authentic air, a couple of Rita Ora- and Miley Cyrus-assisted pop write-offs, and one bit of Major Lazer-lite, in the oddly-placed "Get Away. " Snoop does best when he steers far clear of his weak attempts at Jamaican patois, and some of the album's better songs come when the rapper opens up his vocal cords for messages of love, positivity and redemption, as in the lover's rock-moulded "So Long" and reflective "Tired of Running.
Snoop Dogg’s reggae reinvention and the Rastafarian reawakening that has prompted him to rename himself Snoop Lion was initially thought of as something of a joke and a gimmick, a publicity stunt to boost a flagging career after almost 20 years in the hip-hop game. Indeed, a number of Jamaican musicians and prominent Rastafarian figures have questioned his motives. Reincarnated is the album in which Snoop Lion strives to make a roots reggae album that highlights his enlightenment into the genre of reggae and the message it conveys.
For all his erstwhile gin, juice and pimpin', rapper Snoop (nee Doggy Dogg) has, in recent years, become something of an upstanding citizen: spinning a hip-hop career into a 360 business empire, trying to be a good dad. His rebranding as a Rastafarian mirrors this post-gangsta reality. For all this calculation, songs discouraging firearms such as No Guns Allowed do have the lilt of sincerity about them.
Keen observers of the former Snoop Dogg's career may note that Reincarnated – on which he reinvents himself as Snoop Lion, Rastafarian purveyor of spiritual reggae – is not the first time the rapper has expressed dissatisfaction with hip-hop and attempted to change musical direction. We can but speculate what became of the band he announced in 2006, enticingly described as R&B "with a twist … we're basically a male chauvinist group". But his new move has certainly proved his most controversial; no mean feat given that that R&B group was called Nine Inch Dicks.
For Snoop Dogg, the making of Reincarnated was publicized as a religious experience. Shedding the violence of his Death Row Records days, the reformed Snoop Lion is a character his three children can idolize. “I can’t believe I might be killing my community” Snoop reminisces over the slow burn of “Tired of Running” that features a duet with Akon that’s smoother and nearly as intoxicating as chilled Henny and Hypnotic.
With this foray into reggae, the former Snoop Dogg is now a born-again ambassador of peace. But it takes more than slogans of harmony and (surprise!) weed to give his transformation credence. Certainly, the MC may have achieved an epiphany by availing himself of Rastafarian culture. The music, though, assures that the immersion was only toe deep.
In 2008, Snoop Dogg's Ego Trippin' prompted questions of whether the G/hustla could still be considered a rapper. With April's Reincarnated, we know for sure he's not. The Doggfather's 12th reincarnates the celebrated G-funk playboy into full reggae righteousness, pushing that "Rebel Way" with a fat Kingston blunt on his Rastafari mind. "Here Comes the King," the man who wrote "Murder Was the Case" proclaims.
The rechristening of Snoop Dogg (né Snoop Doggy Dogg) into Snoop Lion, the extremely chill reggae superhero, at first didn’t seem much like an evolution. He’d long been low-key, long had an air of knowing semi-spirituality, long been preoccupied with smoking weed. Did he really need to don ….