Reincarnated is a documentary film from VICE films that chronicles Snoop Dogg’s transformation into Snoop Lion, and the recording of the album of the same name, alongside Major Lazer. The film offers insight into why Snoop chose to go this route, and had it been packaged with this album, may have given listeners a better understanding of what made him do this.
We’ve followed Snoop’s career from early-adulthood to that of an “old man”, as he describes himself at one point in the film, and one thing that has always followed him – aside from success – is death. While this sounds a bit sensational in a world of fake gangster rappers, Snoop’s unfortunate track record speaks for itself. He beat the case of murder given to him in 1994, yet watched his peers 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G. get gunned down after an East-Coast / West-Coast feud that he was a part of. Most recently he saw his friend Nate Dogg pass on, among numerous other less famous friends and family members passing on over the years. His quest to Jamaica is chronicled in Reincarnated, a move he wanted to make after “people started dying”.
VICE Films expertly chronicles Snoop’s month in Jamaica, just as they have in other foreign lands, like North Korea and Liberia in recent years. In the film, we see Snoop attempt to escape the violence and death that has followed him over the years by changing who he is as a person and as an artist. This spiritual journey finds him recording his reggae album with Diplo at the legendary Tuff Gong studios, meeting with greats such as Bunny Wailer and Stephen Marley, and smoking a lot of weed. A LOT of weed.
His meeting with Bunny Wailer is the film’s most interesting moment, as the former Bob Marley collaborator welcomes Snoop into his home. Together they smoke some of Snoop’s California bud out of a hollowed-out carrot, a method that is clear Wailer has been using for decades. This meeting is where Wailer first dubs him “Snoop Lion”, and is followed by an invite to the studio. All things turn to business later in the film, when Bunny and his management are concerned that if they record together, the song will be commercialized, or worse, sandwhiched in between an album full of gangsta rap.
Yet Snoop’s intentions seem pure as the weed he constantly smokes during his Jamaican trek. Reggae music is a very niche genre, one that doesn’t amount to huge sales stateside, so his newfound sense of peace has little to do with dollar signs. As the film demonstrates, even as he escapes from Jamaica, Daz finds out via text message that his nephew died in his sleep. Even as far as Jamaica, the shroud of death follows Snoop and his crew.
On paper, Snoop Dogg’s transformation into Snoop Lion might seem like a stretch, or even a bit silly. But Reincarnated gives insight into Snoop’s life, portraying him as a likable guy, who made the change for good reason. And with him most recently taking on the alias of “Snoopzilla” for his funk project with Dam-Funk, this change may be far more than marketing.
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