It's been a big year for the Doggfather, as one of the founding fathers of West Coast gangster rap has been reincarnated into a Rastafarian. As Snoop Dogg's rebirth unfolds, the question arises: Is this a genuine attempt at scrapping a gangsta image for an advocate of peace, or just a publicity stunt?
Snoop Lion has star-powered supporters, namely Bunny Wailer and Sizzla, but in some circles he's accused of "Jafakin'."The Jamaica Observer led the condemnation: "Rapper Snoop Doggy Dog has decided to go Rasta, in costume at least. So he's converted from Dawg to Lion, and nuff Rasta colors to go with it. Try yuh best Snoops! It takes more than a costume to make a Lion in Zion."
All the while, claiming to be the next Reggae Jesus is just part of the divine decree. "I have always said I was Bob Marley reincarnated," speaking at a press conference in New York City in mid-July. "I feel I have always been a Rastafari. I just didn't have my third eye open, but it's wide open right now."
But Snoop's intended nobility waned shortly after releasing the album's first single, the Diplo-produced "La La La." In August, Snoop heard Mariah Carey was pulling in $18 million a year on American Idol, so the rapper-turned-Rasta announced he would be putting in a bid for judge.
With no call back from the studio and still apparently pandering for international attention, Snoop found out in November that Scotland's Celtic football club had just beat Barcelona. Donning a red mink coat over a Celtic jersey, Snoop told a Scottish newspaper he was interested in investing in the team, adding, "I didn't catch the whole Barcelona game, but I watched the highlights."
As for Rastafarianism, Snoop Lion claims the spirit finally called to him. "I had no plans on going to Jamaica, making a reggae record. The spirit called me. And, you know, anytime the spirit calls you, you gotta know that it's serious," he said to the press in NYC.
Is he serious? The notoriously uninhibited Vice Films set out to legitimize Snoop's transformation from rabid canine to king feline. Shot over 35 days in the Nyabinghi communities of Jamaica's highlands, the documentary shows promise. But the release date for Reincarnated is unknown, while the release of the new album is months overdue. What's more, Snoop Dogg will be appearing as a rapper, not a Rasta, this weekend.
Even so, Snoop is coming clean about his transition: "Snoop Dogg was young, and he grew into a young man. Snoop Lion is a full-grown man, ready to become a full-grown leader."
At least he seems proud to have found a persona more meaningful than a pimp.