For more than 20 years Snoop
Dogg Lion has made a gargantuan career by mixing his classic melodic drawl with his more aggressive, punctuated bars. It’s been a career that’s seen some serious highs (no pun intended) both pre and post his Death Row years. Both on and off the mic, Snoop has always strived to reinvent himself and he recently took it to the next level.
His latest album, Reincarnated, showcases him mixing the theology of a spiritual reawakening in Jamaica with an associated interest in reggae music. Although I am totally all in favor of switching up beliefs in order to find inspiration BUT—his classic voice and flow—is often misappropriated instead on reincarnated. He alternates between being a bit too playa playa on some tracks or venturing outside of his vocal range with noticeably forced Caribbean patois.
Like any standard or quality reggae LP, Reincarnated is both catchy and happily uplifting when it really gets going. He also uses perfect guest appearances to enhance his more ayrie messages. The song ‘No Guns Allowed’ featuring Drake is an excellent showcase of the trademark vulnerability that Drake is often praised for as he addresses recent violence in his native city of Toronto. After the recent bombings in Boston, Snoop’s conscious decision to address mass violence hits home in a big way. Similarly, the track ‘Tired of Running’ displays the perfect balance between vintage Snoop Doggy Dogg and the new Snoop Lion.
Unfortunately, that’s the big dilemma with Reincarnated. We’ve seen the pensive and reflective Snoop before on prior albums and even ‘Beautiful’ allowed Snoop to highlight his chops over the Caribbean-flavored Neptunes production. However, the decision to fully commit to half singing and half rapping renders a handful of tracks simply mediocre at best. As a long time Snoop fan, it seems as if this rastafarian reincarnation is being forced over beats that are lost somewhere between Caribbean ballads and 90s reggae-pop fusion.
All in all, Snoop’s immersion in rastafarianism has produced a fair to middling album. But given his obvious talents and charisma, it’s easy to see him eventually successfully merging his spirituality with the classic Snoop DOGG we all love and know.