Written by Maliika Walker-Island Stage
Reincarnated is defined as, “to be re-born in a new body.” When Calvin Broadus aka Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion announced that Reincarnated was the name of his forthcoming documentary and album I have to admit I was more than skeptical. Yes, I was judging him. After all, this is the same man who recorded the songs “Doggy Dog World”, “Gin & Juice”, “B Word Please”. This is the same man that attended the MTV Awards with two women on dog leashes. Now this same man was saying he was Bob Marley reincarnated. When my ears heard Snoop say this, I could have been one of those cartoon characters with my eyes popping out of my head and air coming out of my ears!
I attribute Bob Marley’s songs with saving my life at the most earth shattering moment, my mother’s death. Bob Marley’s lyrics lifted my soul to push forward. All Snoop Dogg’s lyrics did was tell me over and over that I was a b….. So how in the hell was he proclaiming himself to be Bob Marley reincarnated. He had to be kidding. I then said to myself that this film better clearly display his rebirth. This is not what I found upon watching the film.
The film opens up to Snoop discussing the loss of his close friend Nate Dogg. The loss of Nate Dogg affected Snoop deeply and led him to question how he was living his life. He arrived at that point in his life where he wanted his actions to have meaning and a positive impact on his family and society. Snoop states in the film that he had grown tired of performing gangsta rap so he decided to travel to Jamaica to learn more about Jamaican culture, Rastafari, and to record his first reggae album, Reincarnated.
Upon landing in Jamaica he visits Tuff Gong Studios, the iconic studio owned by the Marley family in Kingston. He announces to the production/writing team, lead by Diplo, of Major Lazer, that he is not in Jamaica to record Snoop Dogg type material. He wanted material that stressed peace and love, his reincarnation. He then discussed his dilemma, if he were asked to perform at the White House, what he would perform. Apparently his answer to this dilemma was recording a reggae album.
He visits reggae great, Bunny Wailer, who was gracious enough to meet Snoop in his home. He mentions how much of an honor it was to meet Snoop Lion. He explains to Snoop that music is a tool for reggae, a vessel, a way to spread the message to the world. Snoop offers Bunny his own herb, from California, and asks Bunny Wailer to smoke the herb with him. He also requests Bunny come to the studio to record some music with him and Bunny agrees. The recording session does indeed go on without a hitch after Bunny stresses that he needed to understand what he wanted to do with the music. Bunny had to understand his goals. Bunny’s voice was still rich and powerful at 65 years of age. This was an interesting meeting when you think of Bunny today who has recently accused Snoop of fraud. There was no sign of Bunny Wailer’s current feelings towards Snoop in the film. Coincidentally, the Bunny Wailer collaboration does not appear on the album Reincarnated. Snoop decided to remove the track from the album after he got wind of Bunny Wailer speaking negatively against him.
Snoop spent some time riding thru Jamaica and vibing with the people. Damian Jr. Gong Marley met him in Trenchtown and recommended a local show him around the neighborhood where a number of the reggae pioneers grew up. One particular community that Snoop seemed the most comfortable was Tivoli Gardens, the previous home of Chris ‘Dudus’ Coke. The locals explained that Dudus was a Robin Hood figure for the community, the complete opposite way he was described in the media. Snoop felt so comfortable there that he recorded a song with reggae artist Cutty Corn, who had a studio nearby.
Snoop also met up with local Rastaman each morning, on recording session days, to smoke herb and reason with them. The film definitely expressed Snoop’s love for herb (marijuana). Snoop seemed more at ease and peace while reasoning with the local Rasta men. I then began to see Snoop as someone seeking knowledge of self and of Rastafari.
Snoop spent a lot of time in the film discussing his gangsta rap past, Tupac Shakur’s death, his split from Death Row records, and his reconciliation with Suge Knight orchestrated by Minister Louis Farrakhan. Snoop also discussed his marriage and his pimping history. There were also threats made on his life that he did not want to discuss in immense detail. The point of these parts of the film was to show how far Snoop had come.
I do not feel you can discuss Snoop’s present and future without discussing his past….
The most spiritual part of the film came at the end when he and his wife visited the Nyabinghi Temple in Jamaica. Snoop was filled with immense joy as the Nyabinghi re-baptized him as Berhane, which means shining light. This is why the term reincarnated and Snoop Lion does not become one for me yet. It would have been nice if the film had shown more of Snoop after this pivotal moment. What were his actions and thoughts after being in the presence of the Nyabinghi elders? While I do not feel like I witnessed a complete spiritual reincarnation in the film I do feel like it displays Snoop’s renewed path in life filled with meaning.
The film captures the beginning of Snoop’s journey into the Rastafari way of life, and I believe his journey will continue. I believe his transition to Rastafari will be a process. Nothing happens over night and only he and his family will know where this path will eventually lead. The media cannot be trusted to report on someone’s path towards truth.
At the end of the film I then began to question my own feelings towards Snoop Lion’s Rasta declaration and why I was so skeptical. Why did I not believe Snoop was capable of change? After all I do not know the man. I only know what was projected in the media and the music he releases for the public to hear. I judged him harshly because of this. No one has any right to judge anyone’s path in life. God blessed us all with the gift of life and it is our right to find our
purpose for living it. We all have the right to choose our own connection with The Most High. Maybe the music Snoop now records under the name Snoop Lion will have me singing his praises. Maybe his next album as Snoop Dogg will be music that helps the next generation see there is more to life than the gangsta way. Snoop now has the hip hop and reggae communities watching his next move. The ball is in his court. I am grateful to Snoop for making me look myself in the mirror and speak the following lyrics by the great Bob Marley:
Before you judge yourself
If you’re not ready for judgment.”