Snoop drops the Dogg, aims for reggae style

Fri Sep 7, 2012 10:06pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

TORONTO (Reuters) - Rapper Snoop Dogg insists, for now, he is dropping the 'Dogg' to take on a new moniker, Snoop Lion.

Snoop became one of the world's most recognizable names in rap music after his 1993 debut album "Doggystyle" helped forge the rise of gangsta rap. But the California singer and actor with the tough image of guns, drugs and "pimping" out women now claims he is now embracing reggae music, peace and love.

His transformation, he told reporters on Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival about a new documentary chronicling the change, should not be too surprising: "I was always saying to myself I was Bob Marley reincarnated."

His new nonfiction film, made by his own company, is called just that, "Reincarnated." Like many music documentaries in recent years, it serves partly as a promotional piece for his upcoming reggae album of the same name, showing how each song was recorded, including with reggae master Bunny Wailer.

But much of the first part of Snoop's journey to seek Rasta culture in Jamaica is spent talking about his love of smoking marijuana and sharing the local variety. In one scene he is taken into the jungle by locals to smoke marijuana plants picked straight from the ground.

His larger point however, is that at the age of 40, he is older, wiser and has embarked on a spiritual and musical odyssey. His new name, the film shows, was not chosen by him but rather handed down by Rastafarian priests in Jamaica.

"They just crowned me 'The Lion' because it is associated with Rastafarians and associated with reggae music and they felt like the Dogg was no longer needed," he said. "It was just a natural transformation. It's like from 'The Dogg' to 'The Lion', you understand me?"

The name change, announced in July, is at least the third for Snoop, who began his hip-hop career as "Snoop Doggy Dog" and he is also known as "The Doggfather" and "Uncle Snoop." So skepticism about his embrace of reggae has been rife on social media sites.   Continued...

Rapper and actor Snoop Lion attends a news conference to promote the film ' Reincarnated ' during the 37th Toronto International Film Festival, September 7, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill