It’s unavoidable that, to get this level of access to a worldwide superstar, some of your impartiality would be dented. This documentary never purports to be a no-holds-barred look at the motives behind Snoop Dogg‘s reinvention as Snoop Lion, and what seems to be a sudden conversion to Rastafarianism. He’s always been one of the world’s foremost weed smokers, cited in Reincarnated by a genuine Rastafarian as the reason he thought Snoop was a Jamaican when he first saw him on TV. If that’s all it takes to be Jamaican then they’re going to get a sudden influx of refugees seeking chemical asylum.
But with any musical reinvention, all that really matters is the music. If the music is great then the public will accept anything. Prince got away with all of the turmoil over his identity because of the consistently good music he was creating during that period. Same with Michael Jackson. Is Snoop Lion’s music as good as Snoop Dogg’s? On the evidence of this film, it probably is, but time will tell. The film is timed for release around the same time as the album.
Snoop’s always been a magnetic presence and his laid-back Cali drawl has been the attraction for many a listener and fan. His personality and voice seem perfectly matched for what we imagine reggae to be in popular culture, but do the key themes of reggae – political strife, broken relationships, heartbreak – chime with those of Snoop Lion? Throughout the film he compares the situation of the children he sees around him to his own experiences growing up in Long Beach, and there’s a lot of similarities. He also relates to some of the people he meets selling off the marijuana they grow to get money for the family by comparing it with his own experiences dealing cocaine and weed, but the ramifications are skirted around. Are these guys sending weed to America? The film doesn’t dwell on it, and with good reason.
The star of the film, however, is Daz Dillinger. Cousin/bodyguard of Snoop and respected rapper in his own right, he is consistently hilarious throughout the film. He indulges himself constantly, without needing to resort to the mystical musings that Snoop tends to. He has no qualms in making it completely clear why he’s on this trip – to get hold of good weed. He’s not out for redemption or reincarnation, he just wants to smoke that good shit and do some flips on the beach.
Seeing such an interesting and enigmatic figure up close and talking so personally is a treat, and so what if it’s not completely impartial? It’s a fun film, educational, with some great music and funny moments. What more do you need?