Directed by Andy Capper. (2013, R, 96 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., March 15, 2013
Reincarnated is the sport of superstars: the rest of us setlle for a new haircut or a Facebook status update. Calvin Broadus Jr. once transformed himself into the rapper known as Snoop Dogg; now the artist known as Snoop Dogg is rattling his cages to let us know that he’s adopted a new moniker: Snoop Lion. He’s introducing fans to his new identity with the release of a new album next month and the current theatrical run of the movie Reincarnated, which follows him to Jamaica where he records a reggae album and immerses himself in Rastafarian culture.
Snoop seems to be reckoning with the violence that dogged his past, the peace and love he professes in the present, and the body of work he will leave as his legacy. He recognizes that he wants some softer material in his repertoire. “I know Obama wants me to come to the White House, but what the fuck can I perform?” he asks while contemplating a career of rhymes about guns, pimping, and overall thug life. A reggae album is his answer, and, after the 2011 death of his childhood friend and fellow rapper Nate Dogg, Snoop is ready to embark on a pilgrimage to Jamaica. Following some introductory biographical background – during which Snoop proves reflective as well as self-exculpatory – the trip is on.
We see Snoop in the recording studio as he works on these new songs with much softer edges. Between sessions, he visits various Rasta figures and sites. First, he visits Bunny Wailer to pay his respects. Also on tap is a tour of legendary Trench Town, where Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and the Wailers got their start. A trip into the inner recesses of the Blue Mountains to pay his respects to the naturally grown ganja is up next, followed by trips to the legendary Alpha Boys School and the Nyabinghi Temple, where he is rebaptized as Berhane, which means “shining light.” Snoop also reflects on the death of his former labelmate Tupac Shakur, and also seems to be on a quest for greater self-knowledge, as his visits with the controversial Minister Louis Farrakhan attest.
More honest than you might expect a promotional piece such as this to be, but less self-investigative than you might like, you come away thinking there are much greater depths for Snoop Lion to plumb. The musician never adds to our general knowledge of Rastafarianism either. But, if nothing else, the making of Reincarnated is going to be a hell of an ingenious way to write off a hell of a lot of ganja as a business expense.