It was on the first day of last summer’s edition of Osheaga, where Snoop Dogg was booked to play, that the announcement was made: the rapper we’ve always known as Snoop Dogg was now Snoop Lion, reggae artist. Everyone was incredulous — surely it was a joke, or maybe a misguided publicity stunt. Would it mean he’d be duetting with a hologram of Bob Marley? Damn, we’d all been hoping for Pac.
Nearly a year later, Snoop’s Rastafarian phase is still going strong, with a record and now a documentary to prove that he’s seriously immersed himself in Jamaican culture. Of course anyone who knows anything about Snoop knows that he’s been practicing one particular Rasta rite for decades (the one involving ganja), so in his quest to be born again, what better religion than the one that encourages the 4:20 lifestyle?
In Reincarnated, the documentary wing of the Vice empire follows Snoop on his Jamaican odyssey, capturing him and his entourage smoking their brains out (and drinking lotsa Red Stripe), going on nature walks, making a record with Diplo, meeting music legends like Bunny Wailer and getting tours of rough hoods like Trenchtown, which produced Marley and fellow reggae star Peter Tosh.
Parallels are made between that Jamaican ghetto and Snoop’s upbringing in Long Beach, his entree into the world of drug dealing and petty crime and how hip hop saved him from that scene. Despite this early salvation, his involvement with that most gangsta of record labels, Death Row, meant that violence was still in his midst — Snoop tears up telling the story of how he was supposed to have been with Tupac and Suge Knight when their car was shot up in Vegas.
Snoop’s estrangement from Death Row, partnership with No Limit, flirtation with Farrakhan & co. and ongoing search for some kind of enlightenment bring us full circle to Rastafari. This is a solid doc that’s a no-brainer for Snoop fans and has appeal outside of the hip hop realm. It may just leave you believing that Snoop’s transformation is an authentic quest for spiritual salvation, not just an intervention for a stagnating career. ■
Reincarnated screens at the PHI Centre (407 St-Pierre) Friday, March 29 through Sunday, March 31, 8 p.m., $11.25