It can be difficult to take a spiritual awakening seriously when it’s presented as part of an album, film, and book promotion, but rapper Snoop Dogg said at a press conference yesterday that he has (at least temporarily) been christened “Snoop Lion” by a Rastafarian priest in Jamaica. Snoop was there working on his first reggae album, “Reincarnated” (with a documentary film crew in tow), and said “the spirit” called him to do it.
Explaining the new moniker, Snoop said he was visiting a Rastafarian temple when the high priest asked him what his name was. When he answered “Snoop Dogg,” the priest looked him in the eyes and said, “No more. …You are the light, you are the lion.”
When asked by Sway Calloway of MTV if he was converting to the Rastafarian religion, Snoop said he learned that Rastafara isn’t a religion, but “a way of life.” “I feel like I’ve always been Rastafari. I just didn’t have my third eye open, but it’s wide open right now,” said Snoop.
ReligionFacts.com says “the Rastafari movement is a ‘messianic religio-political movement’ that began in the Jamaican slums in the 1920s and 30s” and its most famous adherent was Bob Marley, whose music brought it to international prominence.
“There is significant variation within the Rastafari movement and no formal organization. Some Rastafarians see Rasta more as a way of life than a religion. But uniting the diverse movement is belief in the divinity and/or messiahship of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, the influence of Jamaican culture, resistance of oppression, and pride in African heritage. The Rastafarian lifestyle usually includes ritual use of marijuana, avoidance of alcohol, the wearing of one’s hair in dreadlocks, and vegetarianism,” the article said.
At Complex Music, Rob Kenner introduced his interview with the rapper by saying, “Snoop’s name change was not done on a whim. He was actually baptised in a sacred Rastafarian ceremony. For Rastafarians, the Lion is a symbol of the black God incarnate, His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia—also known as the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”
Kenner also said Snoop has been referring to himself as “Bob Marley reincarnated” for some time now. “At first it seemed like a generic weed reference, or perhaps a touch of rebel flair. But at yesterday’s press conference it became clear that since his recent trip to Jamaica Snoop has been taking this ‘Reincarnated’ project very seriously,” said Kenner.
Marley’s son Rohan was at the presser and said his family is cool with Snoop’s claim. “Music in general is universal. Remember Jamaica is a part of music as well, you know, so we really don’t separate ourselves. And we embrace Snoop, not only through music, but through a divine order, because you see it’s all about life and what you’re going to give. So once you’re going to profess a positive vibration and give pack to the earth, and the land, and the people, and be an instrument of good, we receive that as well,” said Marley.
In his interview with Kenner, Snoop said the Rastafarian elders had given him a new sense of direction. “When you accept the role of leader, you have to know why you’re leading and where you’re leading. And I didn’t know. I always knew I was a leader. I was a good leader, but I needed information to make sure that I was leading people to the light as opposed to the darkness,” Snoop said.
Snoop wants to make music that his kids and grandparents can enjoy, he said. Not that he’s denouncing his gangster rapper past. Rap no longer challenges him though, he told a reporter. “The music I made as Snoop Dogg was who he was. I was young, I was fly, I was pretty, I was flamboyant, you know. I was the greatest of all time. That’s what it called for me to be. But now, I’m a grown man with a family, with kids, with wisdom, with guidance, with understanding, so it’s only right to pass this on,” said Snoop.
In response to another journalist’s question about his evolution, he added, “I could never become Snoop Lion if I was never Snoop Dogg. …Snoop Dogg created Snoop Lion, but Snoop Lion is the elevation of Snoop Dogg.” He’s one of a long line of musicians who’ve claimed spiritual awakenings. Check out.
The first single off “Reincarnated”is the upbeat “La, La, La,” which sets the tone for the record, Snoop said. Another song is “No Guns Allowed.” He described that one as “spirit inspired” and said it was a song he wouldn’t have been allowed to make as a “gangster.”
Reincarnated is an album, film, and photo book that emerged spontaneously, said Snoop’s manager Ted Chung. The trailer for the documentary, which will air at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, glides along in a haze of smoke. Given Snoop’s history with the drug and its religious significance in the Rastafarian movement, one assumes it’s marijuana smoke.
“This project, if you look at it from a business perspective, it’s this multi-platform media entity that’s going to have a very, very long life. And, what’s awesome about it is that it’s important on so many different levels, but the intentions were really pure,” said film maker Suroosh Alvi.
What do you think?
Is Snoop’s rebirth for real? And if so, is a marijuana-soaked message better for children than the one he was previously selling?