Renowned rapper Snoop Dogg recently visited Jamaica, immersed himself in Rastafarian culture, recorded a reggae album called “Reincarnated” with producers Diplo and Major Lazer, and redubbed himself Snoop Lion in the process. But he reassures longtime fans that it’s not permanent. “Snoop Lion is the moniker that I will use when I make reggae music,” says the artist, whose raspy, weed-weathered voice perfectly fits the genre. He adds, “When I do rap music, I will continue to be Snoop Dogg — I can’t get rid of something that it took 21 years to create!” He took director Andy Capper and a film crew along on his transformational trip for a film, also titled “Reincarnated,” that opens today.
Musically speaking, there was probably no more prolific place than Jamaica in the 1960s and ’70s, right?
I totally agree. And that’s what I’m searching for — that same kind of feeling, that same kind of aura. And I feel like by me jumping in the reggae realm, and pushing this movement again, it will put some attention on those great artists who did have control of the music industry at one point.
At 41, what spiritual truths did you learn in Jamaica?
Just to live my life a different way. I always knew what to do — I just didn’t know how to do it. So I was given a little bit more clarity on what to do and how to do it. And it’s not to be talked about — it’s to be shown. Down there, they told me that I was a light, and it was time to let that light shine.
What was clouding your light until now?
I don’t know if it was the people I was around, or my upbringing. But then I was a part of the problem, too, because I’m hard-headed. I like doing it a certain way, and it’s my way or no way. So sometimes, you’ve got to learn to relinquish the power and let others think and move for you, because you know you make bad decisions. So that’s what I was able to do on this.
In the film, you visit Tuff Gong studios, then jump into a tiny Tivoli Gardens studio with local musicians. Was the visit that spontaneous?
Everything that you see happened right on the spot. A lot of it was not scripted. It was happening as we were filming. That’s why we were documenting every moment, because that’s how magic happens for us as musicians.
What did you learn from Diplo and Major Lazer?
Umm ... that I could sing? Heh heh. I’m a rapper, but I learned that I could actually sing!