Last year I wrote a short piece about hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg’s Selassie praising Rasta alter-ego Snoop Lion and his debut single La La La. I wrote that his spiritual transformation seemed like a clever marketing ploy directed by hipper than hip producer Diplo from Major Lazer, but that the single, with its haunting Artibella sample, was very tasty.
Same goes for the full album that arrived a few days ago. The Rasta gimmicks are too much and the album isn’t profound or spiritual in any way. But a majority of the 16 tracks – only twelve on the U.S. edition – shouldn’t be ashamed of themselves.
Reincarnated is a clear departure from Snoop’s previous hip-hop albums and he has also abandoned rapping and changed his delivery to a more singing-oriented approach. As a rapper Snoop is the essence of smooth, but as a singer he isn’t as talented and has to rely on backing vocalists or one of the 14 guest artists, guests that on several occasions outshine him, especially Mavado, Popcaan, Angela Hunte, Jahdan Blakkamoore and Miley Cyrus. Yes, it’s the Miley Cyrus, and yes, it’s quite a surprise to hear her flexing her skills over a smooth reggae beat.
The album was mainly recorded in Jamaica with Diplo and Dre Skull – responsible for several rougher than rough dancehall riddims over the past years – handling production. They’ve cooked up a charming blend of sunshine reggae, smooth ballads, blasting electro, echo-laid dub and hip-hop beats with pounding drums and rolling bass lines.
It also samples vintage dancehall and has several nods to pastime classics, including an erratic take on the Sleng Teng riddim and a sample from Michael Palmer’s Don’t Smoke the Weed.
Highlights include Remedy, where Busta Rhymes sounds like Burro Banton, So Long, a version of Glen Washington’s There’s A Joy, the slow pumping Lighters Up, where versatile reggae singer Jahdan Blakkamoore lacks credit, and the sing-a-long friendly No Guns Allowed.
Reincarnated contains plenty of nonsense lyrics and homage to marijuana, but also bright and memorable melodies. And even though the album is credited to Snoop Lion it’s more a compilation hosted by him thanks to the guest performers.
Not sure about the target audience for this album. His hip-hop fans will probably loathe it, while the reggae crowd will view him as a fake. No one can however overlook the overall pop appeal of Reincarnated.