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.