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Film Review: Snoop Lion's Reincarnated

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Veteran rapper and self-styled P.I.M.P., Snoop Dogg, has teamed up with hipster magazine Vice to document his transition from weed-smoking hip-hop artist, to weed-smoking Reggae artist, to produce a companion piece to his upcoming record. Directed by Vice editor, Andy Capper, Reincarnated follows Snoop as he leaves his LA roots behind and travels to Jamaica to immerse himself in Rastafarian culture, changing his name to Snoop Lion in the process.  However, it becomes clear very quickly that Snoop's interpretation of Rastafarian culture is sticking on Bob Marley's greatest hits and smoking lots and lots of drugs. In fact, the first hour of this tediously self-infatuated documentary consists almost exclusively of American millionaires swaggering around Jamaica smoking an astonishing amount of weed and saying "yeah, mun" every five seconds with all the authenticity and respect for their surroundings of an obnoxious public schoolboy on his gap year.

The middle section of the film then veers into a retrospective of the 41-year-old rapper's career, through his impoverished upbringing in Long Island, to the gang wars of the 1990's and his involvement with the Nation of Islam. This is also the section in which Snoop, real name Calvin Broadus, takes the opportunity to back-peddle over his life as a pimp, claiming that he now understands that is was disrespectful to his wife and daughters, and that it is out of step with his newly-adopted Rastafarian believes. He seems less apologetic about the fact that he made millions of dollars out of glamourising the profession.

Much of the footage takes place in the studio, where Snoop is working with US producer Diplo on his new reggae record, with the help of some of the island's biggest artists. Most of these musicians seem more than happy to comply, with only Bunny Wailer raising concerns about Snoop's commitment to the Rastafari movement. However, Bunny is eventually convinced that Snoop's intentions are good and helps out with the record. He has subsequently threatened Snoop with a lawsuit, accusing Snoop of adopting his Snoop Lion persona to sell records and "fraudulently using the Rastafari Community's personalities and symbolism".

There are some interesting moments in Reincarnated, most notably seeing the outrage of the poverty-stricken population of Tivoli Gardens at the extradition of local drug lord, Christopher 'Dudus' Coke. A documentary about this would have been far more interesting, but it is quickly skimmed over and attention soon returned to the film's protagonist. Structurally, the film doesn't work and although it is smoothly edited, it is overlong and unfocussed. Fans of the rapper may find enough to enjoy, but it is neither an entertaining journey, nor an interesting travelogue and could easily have worked just as well on Snoop's official YouTube page.

Reincarnated is essentially nothing but a vanity project. Snoop makes the clumsy transition into Rastafarian culture with both good intentions and a staggering lack of self-awareness, and ultimately comes across as a fraud.

★★☆☆☆