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Snoop Dogg, er I mean, Snoop Lion’s documentary, Reincarnated – about his most recent trip to Jamaica and subsequent transformation to Rastafarianism – debuted at TIFF on Friday. I, like many, have had a lot of questions about this move – especially after having seen him perform Doggystyle just the night before the official announcement of this change came. The film offers some answers, taking the viewer on this journey – how he and his wife, together with a team of songwriters and musicians headed off to Tuff Gong studios in Jamaica to record a reggae album with Major Lazer producer Diplo, and how, along the way, Snoop becomes “reincarnated” as Snoop Lion, or “Bethane”, as he’s referred to during a Rastafarian ceremony, which we’re told means “light”. The name change is a great signifier – at the beginning of the film, the rapper declares that Snoop Dogg is dead.
“It wasn’t me making the name change, it’s the name that I was given…I’m Snoop mother-[bleep]ing Dogg ’til I die,” says the artist, real name Calvin Broadus at a press conference for the film. It was made in collaboration with Vice Magazine, which producer Suroosh Alvi admits was somewhat of a challenge for the media outlet that likes to embed itself quietly in its surroundings. “It was one of the biggest challenges,” Alvi says, “when you’re driving around with Snoop, then Damien Marley’s people and there are 15 SUV’s in tow…that’s not going in quietly.”
I asked Snoop about playing his old tracks now – the music people still want to hear – and he said he still understands the business, and will give people what they want; that it all depends on them. He also added in response to another question that he still likes to language peppered with “bitches” and “motherfuckers” but he won’t be using those words in any of his reggae endeavours.
With the US presidential elections looming, Snoop also expressed his support for Barack Obama, when asked about the subject, saying the current US President needs another 4 years in office because he “inherited a house that wasn’t clean.
“The TV wasn’t working, the toilet was stuffed,” he added.
* Snoop Dogg has left rap for reggae and become Snoop Lion. A day after performing his debut album, Doggystyle live at the Catalpa Music Festival, the Doggfather announced his 12th album will be a reggae one, titled Reincarnation, which will be released later this year, along with a documentary about its creation.
* Tributes are being paid to beloved Irish author Maeve Binchy, who has died at the age of 72, in Dublin.
There was something very déjà vu about watching Cold War Kids in the rain at Catalpa Festival on Sunday afternoon. It recalled watching the band at last weekend’s Firefly Music Fest in Delaware, where rain was also a support act no-one really appreciated making an appearance on the bill. But the downpour didn’t last long, and when that sun came out and the view of the city skyline cleared, it highlighted the pretty setting of New York’s first Catalpa Festival, held on Randall’s Island.
A stubborn back injury meant I missed out on seeing the Saturday line-up of Hercules & the Love Affair, TV on the Radio, Zola Jesus and the Black Keys, who, from what I’ve read, put on impressive enough shows. Sunday’s line-up featured Matisyahu, no longer sporting his distinctive beard and locks as a result of his change in spiritual direction. His brand of reggae, rock, hip-hop and beat-boxing was familiar though, even if his sound has a bit more of a pop slant to it now. He teased the audience about wanting to hear hits King Without a Crown and One Day, and kept them for the end of his set.
Matt & Kim and Girl Talk created a massive party vibe at the main stage, while AraabMuzik kept it going on the smaller Jeep stage. I’m glad I managed to catch a bit of his set because his intense mixing, done with a deft hand, created a dreamy, trance-like unexpected bit of fun on the other side of the festival grounds.
Sunday’s highlight was no doubt Snoop Dogg’s live performance of his debut album, Doggystyle, complete with the scruffy dog from the album cover in tow. After performing the tracks on it, albeit in a shuffled order, Snoop came back for an encore, saying: “I ain’t stopping, I’m like the bunny, I keep going and going.” He ended the set – and Catalpa’s first festival – on an, ahem, high, with his Pharrell-Williams-produced track Drop It Like It’s Hot and the Wiz Khalifa number Young, Wild and Free.
* Hans Zimmer, composer for The Dark Knight Rises, released a song to help raise money for victims of the movie theater shooting in Aurora. The suspected shooter appears in court again today, for charges to be laid against him.
* NBC is still receiving flak for its delayed and edited airing of the Olympic games opening ceremony. Speaking of the opening ceremony, watch James Bond and the Queen parachute into the stadium, one more time.
I run past Randall’s Island a lot. It looks like nothing much ever happens there. But this summer, that looks set to change with plenty of reason to venture over. One reason begins with “The” and ends in “Black Keys”, another rhymes with Doggystyle.
The Catalpa NYC festival looks set to make quite the impression with its arrival onto the New York summer circuit. Snoop Dogg will be performing his 1993 debut album in its entirety, and true to the description of catalpa that thrives in the warmth of North America and is known for its large, showy flowers, the event will showcase some of the biggest artists around. Catalpa’s going to have 40 performers from across the genre board – from the likes of Girl Talk to Matisyahu to TV on the Radio and Hercules & the Love Affair, the list just keeps getting better. Continue reading →