“You know who’s back up in this motherfucker?” is the line that opens this documentary, slung together clumsily by Vice Editor Andy Capper. Not the Snoop Dee Oh Double Gee apparently, but instead his reincarnation, one Snoop Lion.
Reincarnated follows Snoop as he spends a month in Jamaica putting together a reggae album, which is to be released as a companion piece to the film under the same name. In becoming Lion, Snoop has apparently decided to repent for his years of pimpin’ and hustlin’ and representin’ all the gangsters across the world, and the way to do this is by ingratiating himself in Rastafarian culture and ultimately coming to understand “the peace, the love, the struggle, the… reincarnation.” Unsurprisingly this means a lot of red, red eyes and lot of ‘jah bless.’ Fair enough, but unfortunately this spiritual quest doesn’t make for particularly entertaining viewing
The similarity between Snoop and the reggae legends of past runs deeper than a love of marijuana insists Snoop. They share kinship, spiritualism and a mutual struggle. There is more than an element of cultural appropriation in Snoop’s sudden decision that the Rasta life is the life for him, and certainly reason to doubt the dubiousness of his claim to have put all of his past behind him, but he is so ridiculously charismatic he gets away with it. Almost everyone Snoop meets is won over after he “blesses them with some California herbs,” as he so charmingly puts it.
That is more or less it though. Most of this film consists of watching Snoop and groups of smiling Rastifarians getting obscenely high, complete with subtitles for the Rasta dialogues. It is amusing for about three minutes but then the appeal wears thin. There is an inspired scene some way in, where Snoop is seen freestyling over an orchestra of ‘Alpha Boys,’ Jamaican youths who lack father figures, and for a second he is that figure they need; but overall this doc does Snoop a disservice. Capper reveals his lack of actual material or focus when about half way in, he resorts to just playing old Snoop Dogg videos for a while. The planning process here must have been paper thin. Snoop’s going to Kingston, let’s follow him for a bit and hope that the material reveals itself in the editing room. It doesn’t. Formally, this documentary offers almost nothing new, cutting between uninspired interviews about Snoop’s lurid past, studio footage, and the aforementioned bulk of stoner smoke sessions.
There is a moment in the film where Snoop is singing a ridiculous song about fruit juice, and it cuts to his producers offering the suggestion, half-mockery, half-endearment, that he should produce a drink called Snoop Juice, and it looks like_ Reincarnation_ could be slightly self-aware. That not everyone involved is taking Snoop Lion’s reinvention as spiritual overlord quite as seriously as he is, but alas it is left at that. As a film coming from the supposedly controversial and edgy Vice team, a degree of playfulness might have been expected, but this is about as by the numbers as documentary filmmaking can be. As a complimentary disc thrown in with the album of the same name, it might have had value, but as a fully-fledged release its undeniably lacking.
“Snoop Dogg in Kingston, that’s like the coolest thing,” says Diplo, who’s responsible for the production on the album. Maybe if you were there.