2012 was an eye-opening year for Snoop Dogg. So much so that the West Coast rapper held a press conference in July to publicly announce that, after spending some time in the Caribbean island of Jamaica, he was a changed man. Snoop declared he was leaving the gangsta-image alone to adopt the ways and culture of a Rastafarian.

There was just one problem: Dog is a derogatory term in Jamaican culture.  The rapper formerly known as Snoop Dogg and Snoop Doggy Dogg before that picked a name that fully embodies his new lifestyle: Snoop Lion.

During the press conference, Snoop Lion revealed that during his sabbatical on the tiny island, he recorded a Major-Lazer produced album of reggae songs titled Reincarnated and he would be releasing a documentary that filmed his Caribbean epiphany of the same name. Snoop admitted that after 20 plus years in the music industry, he was in desperate need of a change. “Rap is not a challenge to me,” he confessed. “I’ve won every accolade you can get in rap. They call me ‘Uncle Snoop’ in rap. When you’re an uncle, it’s time to find something new.”

Fast-forward to nearly a year later, hot on the heels of what has to be one of Snoop Lion’s favorite unofficial holidays, the reformed gangsta rapper releases the highly anticipated Reincarnated for post 4/20 enjoyment.

Snoop Lion channeled his inner Bob Marley, the very man he believes he’s reincarnated from, for a 16-track psychedelic trip. More than his sound, Snoop fully embraced Marley’s belief that love conquers all evil. Reincarnated is Snoop Lion’s most socially conscious body of work to date. “Rebel” opens up the album, setting the tone for the project right out of the gate:

"We still drop it hardcore/ None of them can’t take it/ When the lion roar/ We no take no shorts tellin we want more/ Now it’s time to settle the score/ For all of my people in the ghetto streets reppin/ And all who really stepped on/ Love is the cure and courage is the weapon/ You can use to overcome."

Snoop Lion’s theme of “love is the cure and courage is the weapon to defeat all evil” is evident throughout. Reincarnated serves up numerous songs designed to uplift and motivate its listeners. Snoop teams up with Brooklyn singer Angela Hunte (who co-wrote the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys New York anthem “Empire State of Mind”) for several uplifting reggae hymns. “Here Comes The King” and “So Long” follow in the paths of Marley’s “Trenchtown Rock” and “So Much Trouble In The World.” Cori B. and Drake help Snoop Lion address gun violence in “No Guns Allowed.”

The Long Beach native enlisted help from artists across several genres from reggae to rap to pop. Mavado, Mr. Vegas, Popcaan, Drake, Busta Rhymes, Chris Brown, Akon, Rita Ora and Miley Cyrus lend their talents to Reincarnated making it an enjoyable listen for all music lovers. “Get Away” is a signature Diplo beat spiced up with Jamaican curry.  One of the most buzzworthy songs off of Reincarnated is the Miley Cyrus featured “Ashtrays and Heartbreaks,” a catchy yet serious tune that anyone who has lost a loved one can relate to.  

The song that best fully describes Snoop’s motivation to travel down a new path not just with his music but his mindset is “Tired of Running” featuring Akon:

"Serving fiends like these people ain’t no kin to me/I can’t believe I’m out here killing my community/ If you knew how far I came/ From where I am and where I used to be/ Don’t want it, you can tell by the look at me/ This gangsta life ain’t no longer in me."

Snoop Lion is always at his best when he talks about his favorite past time. Although he recently caught some flack when his oldest son posted a photo of him smoking with his dear old dad, Snoop has never hid his affinity for the ganja. “Smoke The Weed” and “Lighters Up” are the marijuana aficionado’s ode to the sticky stuff.

After almost two decades, it’s hard for an artist to have a rebirth or stay fresh. Fans like to see growth but they also don’t want to be left behind. With his 12th solo album, Snoop sets out on a journey to improve himself as an artist but also as a man, and he invites his fans along for the smoke-filled, eye opening ride. Reincarnation is Snoop Lion’s evolution from a gangsta rapper/pimp into a socially conscious artist who implores peace and love… and still loves his weed.

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