There exist a certain class of entertainer-celebrities whose every move represents a significant addition to their brand. Their ability to produce interesting or exciting music (or movies, or etc.) has faded, but still their cult of personality soldiers bravely on: their personal lives are covered in trashy magazines, they start a crossover acting (or music, or etc.) career, they make ever-more-outlandish public appearances, and so forth. Stripped of their productive capability, they become a sort of pop culture avatar. No one really gives a fuck about Madonna anymore but her albums still get press.
Snoop Lion (nee Dogg) has put out a new record, and one is tempted to ask if the patron saint of gangsterism has lost his edge. Reincarnated is an album of (nominally) reggae music inspired a trip to Jamaica during which Snoop studied Rastafarianism. Much of Reincarnated is produced by Major Lazer, with pop heavyweight Diplo acting as the album’s executive producer. Guests on the record range from Chris Brown to Miley Cyrus to Busta Rhymes. Snoop’s signature throaty croon is ever-present on the record’s long sixteen tracks, and sonically it is well-matched with the harmonious, floating, smokey (…) half-time feel that characterizes the record.
Needless to say it is dreadfully boring and cliched music, nothing but a pale pop imitation of its influences (Marley, Cliff, Tosh, et al). The record is polished in a way nothing coming out of Jamaica ever was; Snoop’s affected Jamaican accent is not only unconvincing, but actually irritating, if not downright silly. Sonically the album has far more in common with the electronic music that grew out of reggae and dub than it does with actual reggae. (Be warned: there is an actual dubstep song on this record. The irony is palpable.) Reincarnated features Snoop singing about such classic drug-hippie themes as how much violence sucks, how much smoking pot doesn’t suck, and how much better life is if you take it easy. There is, of course, little depth or reflection or substance of any kind. It sounds forced and contrived.
The sad thing about the album is that Snoop himself is actually not really all that bad. Mostly it sounds like he went to Jamaica, had a really eye-opening experience, and then came home and made a record with a bunch of commercially-minded producers looking for something palatable to the masses. (Don’t believe me? Miley fucking Cyrus is on the album. I rest my case.) Rather than connecting Snoop’s music and personality with his new interest in Rasta and reggae, he was rebranded with a cartoon-y identity that doesn’t fit him, doesn’t fit his listeners, and seems downright laughable in any serious light.
1 / 5 bars
Snoop Lion – No Guns Allowed
Snoop Lion – Remedy
Snoop Lion – Here Comes the King