“As Snoop Dogg begins his transition into Snoop Lion with the album Reincarnation, TheSource.com takes you on his journey and clears the air on what it means to be a Rastafarian.”
Written by Salvatore DiBenedetto (@SaysSal)
Joint in hand, feet in the sand, while listening to a reggae band. This is the American vision of Rastafari lifestyle. As with most stereotypes in America; it is largely exaggerated and lacks the true fundamentals of what it means to be a Rastafarian. A new spotlight has been cast upon the culture in the aftermath of Hip Hop veteran Snoop Dogg’s switch from West Coast OG to enlightened Rasta under the new name Snoop Lion. His new reggae album, Reincarnated, which dropped on April 23rd has people talking about Snoop’s spiritual evolution but also about his new reggae sound. The transition has some questioning how high Snoop must have been, but if you look a little deeper you will find a story that is both interesting and inspiring.
What many people fail to realize is that Rastafarianism is a branch of the Christian religion. Their roots lie in the undeniable belief in God, their savior Haile Selassie, the respect for all things created by God and an appreciation for the unique bond between humanity and nature. Some may find it interesting that Snoop Dogg, a man once on trial for murder and banned from entering several different countries has found himself in unison with these morals. Although Snoop is no stranger to the art of recreation (his stage name has changed several times throughout his career) this transformation is not only of his music, but also of his soul. He has earned the support of many artists in the industry and the album is feature heavy with collaborations including Drake, Miley Cyrus, Rita Ora, Collie Buddz and Akon to name a few. The album was mainly produced by Major Lazer, but also incorporated other producers such as Dre Skull, Ariel Rechtshaid and Jus Bus.
Rastafarianism is prominent in the island nation of Jamaica. Its foundation is the result of Ethiopia’s last crowned Emperor Haile Selassie who is regarded as their messiah and was known as the Ras Tafari. The religion is heavily vested in the idea of African independence and freedom which was a result of Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey’s struggle and advocacy against imperialism. Reggae’s messages of freedom and spirituality stemmed from this ideology and were heavily characterized by lyrics filled with hope and love. The genre was popularized by the rise of Bob Marley and even today he remains its figurehead. Labeling himself as the reincarnation of Bob Marley, Snoop Lion raised some eyebrows. However, an endorsement by Bob Marley’s son has eased some of the criticism surrounding his evolution.
Casting away the gangster culture came as a shock to many of Snoop Dogg’s fans. However, a documentary called Reincarnation details Snoop’s journey through Jamaica and act as a showcase for his transformation from dog to lion. The documentary which accompanies the album is a great way for fans to learn about the religion and lifestyle of Jamaica. Rastafarians believe more than anything that they have life, and they intend on living that life with purpose. This is the exact message Snoop hopes to share with his family and even people across the world – something that was never possible through his past music endeavors.
It’s important to remember that there is always more than what meets the eye. So as you see people rock Rasta colored bathing suits, woven green, yellow and red bracelets or even Bob Marley T-shirts, keep in mind there is a culture that transcends that basic commercialization. Snoop Lion’s newfound persona is a great bridge for Reggae back into the American music scene and even serves as a refreshing new look for the genre. More importantly though, Snoop Lion has taught his fans and even the world that you should always follow your inner light and if it is what makes you happy, there should be no regrets.