When I first heard that Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus, changed his name to “Snoop Lion” and was declaring himself the living reincarnation of Bob Marley, I couldn’t help laughing to myself. The guy has waded into the deep end.
Broadus made this declaration following a trip to Jamaica, where he converted to Rastafarianism and “buried” his former “Doggy Dogg identity,” as the songwriter put it.
The result is “Reincarnated,” which for classification’s sake I’ll call a reggae album. I hesitate to call it that, because “Reincarnated” is to the music of its supposed influences what the “Lion King” soundtrack is to traditional African music.
Of course I’m not saying only Jamaicans can make authentic reggae music. However, featuring guests like Miley Cyrus and Drake hint that in the spirit of the enigmatic Bob Marley, this is album is not.
“We’re losing so many great musicians, and we don’t love them while they’re here,” Broadus speaks before the music starts up in the album’s first track, “Rebel Way.” “And I want to be loved while I’m here.”
It seems Broadus is making a last attempt at accomplishing this by claiming to be the reincarnation of a near-universally celebrated dead musician.
Broadus’ brash announcement left me in conflict. On one hand, it’s uncouth to doubt the sincerity of celebrity religious conversion, because that would be a very surface-level judgment of someone I don’t know personally.
On the other hand, Broadus’ whole career has revealed a very surface-level personality. He has disappeared into his public persona and become a cartoon character, a caricature of himself. This move – and it doesn’t hurt my case that the whole transformation was captured in a detailed documentary – looks like a simple PR ploy to rebrand that two-dimensional image.
So instead of judging his religious sincerity, I’ll judge the music. And the music really isn’t that bad, although certainly not my cup of tea. With the exception of unfortunate moments like the sudden appearance of Miley Cyrus’s shrieking, nasal wail, the tracks are pleasant, upbeat and pretty much harmless. Any major philosophical breakthroughs Broadus may have made in Jamaica don’t seem to have changed his lyrical content. Just take your standard Snoop Doggery and graft it over a bland, homogenized version of reggae and you have “Reincarnated.”
And I’ve always admired the simplicity of Broadus’ lyrics, so I don’t hate that “Reincarnated” isn’t especially socially conscious or deep. What I do dislike is that he claims his new music is in some way representative of the spirit of Bob Marley, who was very socially conscious and whose music was an actual force for change.
Maybe Broadus really believes that Bob Marley’s essence has chosen him as a vessel to carry on his legacy through his music; I don’t know because I don’t know Broadus. But when the only thing that changed in his music was the genre, I’m made to wonder how aware he really is of what Marley actually stood for.
Readers, I must urge you to remember Snoop like he was in his glory days, as the charismatic, laid back “gangsta” who didn’t pretend to be anything deeper.