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Reincarnated

tn_reincarnated“Snoop gets Lionized”  –headline I predict Rolling Stone or somebody will use for their review

Like anybody, when I heard that one of my all time favorite but past his album recording prime rappers Snoop Dogg was changing his name to Snoop Lion and doing a reggae record, I shook my head and laughed. Ah, what will he think of next? But I saw the trailer for this Vice-produced documentary about Snoop going to Jamaica to record the album and suddenly I had to take the whole idea more seriously. The movie looked good enough that I would’ve gone to see it in a theater if it had played here. Instead here it is on DVD in time to promote the album of the same name, which came out Tuesday.

BTISLAnd holy shit you guys, this is a great documentary. I watched it last weekend and it overshadowed all the other things I’ve been watching lately, most of which I liked. I loved it so much I decided to invent this new medal just to make sure you guys will know I’m not fuckin around. This is an acclaimed documentary now, otherwise it wouldn’t have won a prestigious medal like this. If you love Snoop Dogg, or are even open to the idea of Snoop Dogg, you gotta see this. Regardless of how anybody feels about the album this is a great document of a man trying to find himself, of a historic bridging of musical cultures and generations, of the process of songwriting, of an awesome trip to Jamaica.

I think Snoop’s been trying to find himself for a while now. Remember he quit smoking weed at one point? Well, that didn’t stick. Maybe it’s just the version you buy in Washington and Colorado, but this movie depicts a huge amount of weed smoking, preparation and discussion. Snoop proudly shares his “California herb” as a peace offering. His cousin Daz gets blown out of his mind on pure ganja out in what he calls “the jungle,” which probly doesn’t happen to him too often. They smoke in alleys, in studios, in resorts, on boats, in Rastafarian church services. When he goes and meets Bunny Wailer (who appears to spontaneously give him the Snoop Lion name, making it more legitimate in my opinion, it’s like being knighted when a Wailer renames you) he tells him it would be an honor to smoke with him. I’m not into that, but in this movie it’s kind of charming how much joy they get out of it. Sometimes it genuinely seems like an act of spirituality.

Snoop meets up with the producer Diplo (a pretty boy American white dude, but a good dance music producer known for the group Major Lazer) at Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong studio. Later they set up shop at a secluded resort with a studio (let’s face it, Snoop can afford some luxury). Snoop didn’t even bring his Playstation, he’s very focused on recording. But also he goes on these trips to meet people and learn about Jamaica. He goes to Trenchtown and gets a tour from the Marley family. He hangs out with some dudes on a block, ends up going to their studio to record a song with them. They go up on the roof and there’s a mob of people around the building trying to see him, and it intercuts with his first video, “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?),” where he performs on the roof of a place called V.I.P. Records in his neighborhood in Long Beach.

still_whoami

(I was thinking I should try to go to that store some time if it’s still there, but I checked and they moved to a smaller store last year and went entirely out of business in February. Eat a dick, progress.)

Periodically Snoop opens up about his life – his childhood, his trial, the night Tupac died, his friendship with Nate Dogg, why he liked Suge, leaving Death Row Records for No Limit. And they got the music and video clearances to properly illustrate it all. It paints a vivid picture of why he wants to change his life to peace and love, it also shows many parallels between how he grew up and how things are for the people he meets in Jamaica, showing why he relates to them and why they seem to love him even though he’s this superstar with an endless supply of fly Adidas track suits walking around smiling and yelling “Jah! Rastafari!” every once in a while.

You can’t help but question it. There’s something touristy about what he’s doing. You can’t deny that he’s doing a fake Jamaican patois sometimes. (Not nearly as much as Seagal would.) And you wonder what percentage of his interest in Jamaican culture is marijuana-related. But Snoop is such a powerfully charismatic figure, so likable and laid back and adaptable to the situations, it’s easy to forgive any of that. And you can see that he’s listening and absorbing and learning, and making friends. Who can fault him for that?

One of the many highlights is the scene where he visits a school for troubled boys. He goes into the music class and improvises a song while they play. The boys look very shy and it’s not clear how aware they are of who he is, but they can’t help but smile at this goofball dancing around and singing about them. And it sounds good!

mp_reincarnatedOf course you hear most of the songs from the album. It’s a movie full of throbbing bass and lots of dancing and happiness. I have to admit to unconscious white person head nodding and shit. A couple of the songs from the album are immediately catchy, and even the ones that aren’t you see the circumstances leading up to writing them, and it makes you appreciate them more. For example there’s a part where we see Daz get a text telling him his nephew has died. His ritual of blasting old soul records and smoking for the next few days inspires the singer Angela Hunte to write a song about mourning called “Ashtrays and Heartbreaks.” The context makes me appreciate the song more (but also makes it even more wrong that Miley Cyrus sings the lead vocal on the finished version).

I like the album, I’ve been listening to it alot since Tuesday. Even the most hardened cynic will have to admit it’s better than some other Snoop projects such as Doggy’s Angels. I’m sure before long I’ll mostly cut down to a couple songs where the music moves me the most, like “Lighters Up” and “La La La.” But for now I enjoy listening to the album all the way through and I think the movie helps me to see it more as a sincere expression than the silly gimmick I would’ve assumed. I’m open to Snoop singing about not giving up on your dreams and shit. Hey, I have dreams. Snoop’s talking to me! Thanks for the encouragement, Snoop.

By far my favorite song on the album is “Fruit Juice,” an energetic ode to fruits and berries. He’s chanting and singing about fruit with as much excitement as he ever talked about the chronic. I’ve listened to it over and over again and I don’t detect any irony or secret meanings in this, I think it’s literally just about what he says: “Natural berries are so very good for the system / Some tart, some sweet, me just con’t resist ’em.”

The movie supports this, showing him recording the song after a particularly profound experience eating a grapefruit freshly picked off a tree with Rastafarians in the Blue Mountains. That’s what’s great about this movie. Snoop has lived through so much, seen so much, and he just doesn’t give a shit what anybody thinks about him anymore. He doesn’t have to act hard. He wants to love everybody. He loves life and people and yes, grapefruit.

Be sure to watch the deleted scenes. There’s one where he leaves Jamaica for 48 hours to perform at Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday celebration in Vegas. He interrupts a conversation between Diddy and LL to tell them he loves them, hugs James Gandolfini, and is thrilled to see the champ enjoying his music. Then it’s back on the private jet to Jamaica. Maybe they cut that to give more of a sense of getting away from American life, being isolated in what seems like a whole different world. As you can see in the trailer below it’s gorgeously photographed and shows all kinds of really incredible locations and people, so there’s a strong sense of place, even though it will periodically leave for flashbacks about gangsta rap history, a powerful section at Nate Dogg’s funeral shortly before the trip, or Louis Farrakhan in his home in Chicago talking about meeting with Snoop after Biggie’s death and getting all the rappers together to end their beefs.

At the end Snoop is back to North America (Ontario, Canada), where’s he’s ritualistically handed his gaudy four-finger ring mic and steps out in front of a huge crowd of ecstatic fans and… starts chanting about Jah? I love this ending because I’m left really torn about it. As someone who just went on this movie journey I want Snoop to stay true to his dream of making music about “love, peace and struggle,” and if that means he wants to sing reggae songs then he should do it. But as a Snoop Dogg fan I want to see him do “Murder Was the Case” and “Deep Cover” and “The Next Episode.”

The movie has taken me from “ha ha, he’s doing a reggae album” to “go for it Snoop Lion!” but now the vacation’s over, he’s not standing on the balcony looking out at the water, he’s back home on a stage in front of thousands of people who don’t know what he’s just gone through, and the whole dream is in danger of dissipating like smoke. I’ve seen him perform a few times, he knows how to give the crowd what they want, and I’m pretty sure they don’t want him to come out and do an all reggae show. It’s hard to imagine him not coming out with a hip hop album in a couple years under the name Snoop Dogg and talking about gangsta shit again. Acting like this peace and love thing was just a phase, like when he stopped smoking. And that might be the best plan for his music, but what about for his soul?


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 26th, 2013 at 2:04 am and is filed under Documentary, Music, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

51 Responses to “Reincarnated”

  1. What do you mean “white dude”? Can you please refrain from labeling people? Can we all just get along?

  2. I’ll be honest. I never expected to see “Diplo” as a tag on this site.

  3. “The context makes me appreciate the song more (but also makes it even more wrong that Miley Cyrus sings the lead vocal on the finished version).”
    Because she’s more of a Jaz-Z fan?

  4. I’m not trying to be a buzzkill, Vern, but:

    http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/q-a-snoop-lion-strikes-back-at-reincarnated-collaborator-bunny-wailer-20130424

    It’s interesting to see Snoop struggling with his conflicting instincts. Should he handle this like some gentlemen or get into some gangsta shit? I suppose he’ll just have to let Bunny have it his motherfucking way.

  5. What’s with the “Eat a dick”? That would seem out of place in any Vern review, but even more so in one with such a positive vibe and about such a positive-sounding story.

  6. Shoulda gone with “Progress can eat a big fat dick.” Would have made the reference a little clearer.

  7. I feel very divided about this film, because on one hand it’s obvious that Snoop is genuine in searching for something positive, some kind of new identity that leaves behind some of the destructive stuff of his past. But on the other hand, I feel like just assuming a new identity as part of another religion is a pretty lazy way to go about it. Really, Snoop, you’re a Rastafari now? You believe the emperor of Ethiopia from 1930-1974 was the reincarnation of Jesus? Or do you just like to smoke weed and feel like you need a justification for it? I’m pretty strongly anti-religion in general, but particularly given the Rastafari movement’s horrible record with homophobia (see:http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1182991,00.html) I find all the talk about peace and love infuriatingly hypocritical. If Snoop is really looking for something different and positive, I would suggest that you have to earn it yourself by genuinely asking yourself hard questions and figuring out how you want to live your life, not just taking a vacation and meeting Bob Marley’s bandmate. Joining is a religion may provide a sense of identity and purpose, but it’s also kind of a quick fix which lets you get away with following rather than thinking. And, as in Snoop’s case here, it can seem to have the effect of washing away the good along with the bad. Be you Cat Stevens or Snoop Dogg — you had a genuine ability to make unique music. We gotta throw that away because you can’t live your life in a positive way without some invisible superbeing telling you what to do?

  8. I fully support the BEST THING I’VE SEEN LATELY award. This along with the ACR, you’re really establishing a strong identity.

    Also glad you don’t smoke pot. Drugs are bad.

  9. Mmmmkay?

  10. I don’t know, if we are going to hate Mel Gibson for saying stuff, and hate Roman Polanski for running away from stuff, shouldn’t there be more hate for people like Snoop and Dr Dre who got away with stuff? Whatever street cred Snoop had is long gone so one of the most positive reviews Vern has ever done is for a doc about a spoiled rich boy who gets paid way too much because twenty years ago he was almost something. My back hurts from my shit job but I’m suppose to give a shit about Snoop trying to find himself in a haze of smoke, bullshit!

  11. I disagree with most of your assumptions. First, I don’t think many people here hate Mel Gibson or Roman Polanski. I got problems with the threatening-to-decapitate-girlfriend and the 13 year old girl or whatever and I would rather they seemed like great guys, but have never tried to claim that made their art less interesting. And most people around here are easier on Gibson than I am. Just a week ago we were all buzzing about the pipe dream of him directing EXPENDABLES 3. I also raved about his most recent, mostly ignored by others movie GET THE GRINGO, complete with intro about his problems not preventing me from liking his movies.

    http://www.outlawvern.com/2012/07/23/get-the-gringo/

    Second, I don’t know what you mean about Snoop and Dre getting away with stuff. If you mean Snoop’s murder trial, he was found innocent in a situation where his bodyguard (not him) shot someone in what was found to be self defense. If you mean him saying he was a drug dealer as a teenager, he went to jail for that and that was when he became a rapper instead of a criminal. That’s a good thing, right? And at this age, with a family, he’s decided that that music (which I love) is too much negativity for him and he’s trying something different… if you have such a problem with him, shouldn’t you be in favor of him trying to make that change? And if you’re mad at him for getting away with stuff why are you questioning his street cred?

    As for Dre, I believe he has been a music nerd from a young age, not a criminal, for which he was made fun of by other rappers.

    If by “twenty years ago he was almost something” you’re denying the quality of his music, of course I disagree with that. For me Doggystyle, The Chronic and The Chronic 2001 are still in rotation as all time classic albums (plus many highlights on his other albums over the years) and I specifically recommended the movie for fans like me. But to be honest I think it’s an interesting enough person and situation that open-minded non fans would definitely enjoy it also. Just like I enjoyed GET THE GRINGO.

    It sounds like you don’t fit into the “open to the idea of Snoop Dogg” category specified in the review. But if it was me it wouldn’t be a deal breaker because I think my conflicted feelings about parts of the movie (including the new knowledge that Adidas partly financed it) are part of what makes it interesting and thought provoking. I’m not comparing them in quality but GIMME SHELTER is one of the best music docs I’ve ever seen without me having to follow or know anything about the Rolling Stones. I watch that movie and it’s a good explanation of their appeal as well as a really well made document of a crazy moment in their career, and REINCARNATED does those things also.

    thanks idiot
    (not calling you an idiot, just using the provided name, I do not consider you an idiot)

  12. Well put, I admit that I am not open to the idea of Snoop Dog. It’s just that turning away from a life of crime to make music would be a better story if the big selling point was the previous life of crime. I wish I had some links handy but there are a few other instances that bother me, maybe I am remembering it wrong. Personally, I think a better example of turning things around would be Mike Tyson who seems to be taking the religion thing a bit more seriously. My point about Mel was pertaining to people in general and not about your review or website, I should of made that more clear. Maybe I just don’t like rap music that’s newer than Run Dmc. And don’t be mislead by my name, I am an idiot.

  13. I’m a little interested in seeing this, and I’m by no means a rap or hip-hop fan at all (and not really crazy about Reggae either). I’m always fascinated by people who want to turn their lives around in drastic ways. Snoop wanting to embrace a more peaceful life makes sense for someone at his age, and I do hope he finds it. He seems decent enough to me.

  14. grimgrinningchris

    April 27th, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    I’m looking at THE WAILERS on the stage of my club right now. No Bunny, of course… This is the Aston Barrett lineup. Still funny to run across this review and mention right now though.

  15. I love Dre, but I’ve always been bothered by his violent assault of Dee Barnes.

  16. I should’ve brought that up to be fair. Luckily it will always be remembered because Eminem mentioned it in that song. I can’t ever excuse that but I don’t know of other accusations toward him before or after. He has a reputation for being a square. It seems like he really just spends all his time in a studio turning knobs (and now lifting weights).

  17. Chopper Sullivan

    April 29th, 2013 at 3:25 am

    I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I thought idiot boy was talking about their hatred of women, and you could include Eminem in that. I know Snoop matured to “Pocket Like it’s Hot” and has proven himself as a real artist, but come on.

    Drunken sarcasm aside, Vern, how do you justify getting upset over the dude saying he won’t fuck Lena Dunham and listening to and admiring this shit? Even when I was in sixth grade hearing “Doggystyle” for the first time I thought “Ain’t No Fun if the Homies Can’t Have None” was kinda fucked up.

  18. I do believe in separation of art and artist, I don’t think James Camaron buying a house down the street for his mistress when he was married to Linda Hamilton makes Aliens a bad movie. It just makes Camaron an asshole. If you made a doc about how great his movies are I’ll be right there with you, make one about how he’s a such a great guy and we should all love him then I would call bullshit on that. There is a difference.

    Regardless of any personal problems Snoop may or may not have, what really grinds my goat is Vern acting like Snoop Dogg is taking any of this seriously. He is a shameless self promoter that is having trouble connecting to young music buyers and this religion thing is nothing more than a new hat for him to wear. Look at me everybody, I got a new hat! Great. I am just really having trouble believing that one of the most positive reviews Vern has ever done is an ad for a cd he liked.

  19. Chopper – ’cause one of them is on a record and the other is in my own forum for people to talk to each other. I would laugh at Dolemite saying something on a record that I wouldn’t want him coming to my house and saying seriously to my friend.

  20. idiot boy: Did you see the movie? How can you judge whether he seems sincere or not? How can you judge how that perceived sincerity or lack thereof affects how interesting the movie is? And why do you think this is one of the most positive reviews I’ve ever written? I just knew you guys wouldn’t believe me about how good this movie is, so I made up a goofy graphic to go with it. next time I’ll make the graphic way bigger since you have such little faith in me.

  21. Wow Vern, that response to Chopper may be the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard you say. You really think that it’s excusable to support misogyny as long as it doesn’t happen in your house/forum? I’m not saying you shouldn’t like Snoop’s music, but don’t make excuses for him.

  22. Knox Harrington

    April 29th, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I think you misread what he was trying to say, Eric.

  23. I’m afraid I’m gonna have to agree with idiot boy even though I have not seen this either, Snoop is the very definition of a hip hop artist who will do literally anything for money, while in his head he may thinks he takes this stuff seriously don’t kid yourself if you don’t think it’s not also a way for him to try to stay relevant

  24. I think there’s always gotta be some distinction between things you’re willing to enjoy as art and ethical judgments you have to make about your responsibility to do right. Much of my favorite art is morally suspect if not outright reprehensible (See: every movie Tarantino has ever made) but I don’t look at that as necessarily a bad thing because art is not advocacy. Sometimes it’s a valuable and healthy thing to make art which is extreme and button-pushing. That doesn’t mean you’ve gotta be OK with every piece of art ever made, but it does mean art gets some leeway that I probably wouldn’t be cool with in a normal conversation, especially if I felt I had some responsibility over what the person was saying (as in Vern’s case, since it’s his forum). As for the issue of morally questionable people making unrelated art (Mel, Polanski, Chris Brown)… their art doesn’t forgive their personal failings, but it also doesn’t have to be completely linked to it, either. The fact that Polanski is a rapist doesn’t make CHINATOWN a worse movie, it just makes him a bad person. I can enjoy great art by a bad person because great art transcends a single individual.

  25. If somebody makes a song about not wanting to do sex with Lena Dunham and makes it sound as hard, bouncy, smooth, & phenomenally catchy as “Ain’t No Fun,” then I’ll gladly listen to it. I doubt it’ll be as good as the ridiculous fantasy of “Ain’t No Fun,” a track that guys & gals alike at a party can enjoy for the sense of sexual freedom it offers vis-à-vis its OTT lyrics, its timeless expression of a youthful not-giving-a-fuck-ism.

    It’s not Snoop’s fault his music & image took off the way it did. He coulda stayed a brilliant niche artist in a niche music scene, drawing small crowds & staying indie or whatever, but young people responded to the beats & the flow, responded to the notion of rebelling by proclaiming enjoyment for this nastily violent yet sonorous music, and thus the music became popular, and then became popular enough to become a cultural battlefield over misogyny, gangster lifestyle issues, white kids trying to be like black kids, the glamourization of such, etc.. He didn’t ask for that last part to happen, though to his credit at least for the last several years he’s been trying to take it (the cultural battle & his persona) in new directions that are specifically *not* as gangsta & childish as his 90s stuff.

    But Snoop’s ubiquity doesn’t have to mean that we should treat his rapping persona & lyrics the same as we treat guys who just come up to you in real life or in talkbacks and say “This girl is ugly, would not bone, what a pig, I’m a nice guy women like me, but not this ugly bitch, she wishes she could meet my standards for being a sex object amirite durr durr, etc.” which is a real problem that needs to remedied when you confront it (or when it confronts you).
    One phenomenon is a musical artist doing his thing; the other phenomenon is the real degradation of women & the perpetuation of ignorant, reductive attitudes toward half the human population, attitudes which in turn give oxygen to misogyny, rape culture, repression, oppression, & anger — all emotions & negative vibes that Snoop Lion is all about countering now with his positivity (even if this effort is kind of a joke).

    But maybe I’m being too naive about the message and the power of the misogynistic lyrics of Snoop Dogg & Kurupt, like how I also fail to see or stop the murderous apocalypticism that breaks out whenever someone listens to Slayer scream about “raining blood” or whatever. Poetic license, first amendment, and all that.

    In conclusion, I miss Nate Dogg, no matter what hilariously heinous shit he said about your wife.

  26. Yeah, I don’t see much difference in the misogyny of rap lyrics and every other Johnny Cash song being about shooting his woman, or Robert Johnson singing about how he was going to beat his woman until he was satisfied. Or this heinous shit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYG9Q2oO_3Q

    It’s hard to explain, but for me, art has a distancing quality. When I hear something like, “I’m going to shoot poor Thelma, just to see her jump and fall.” it’s just a tangible expression of this guy’s frustration with his woman, not a real threat. And likewise, “Ain’t No Fun” is just an expression of homies being horny. An argument could be made that these types of things are morally wrong, and shit, I might even agree, I just don’t care. On the other hand, someone going on about how they wouldn’t fuck Lena Dunham because she has fat arms or how Liz Hurley’s tits are nothing special or whatever is just annoying. It has no aesthetic value. Whenever someone on the internet goes on and on about how a woman is fat or a twig or has no tits or has one nostril that’s bigger than the other I automatically assume they’re justifying the fact that they never get laid because their standards are just too damn high.

    I guess when it comes to art or internet comments, I’d rather things be interesting than moral.

  27. I don’t want people to think I support any kind of Tipper Gore type bullshit and I do not think that music is destroying society or has killed anyone. However I don’t get David Lambert’s point as two wrongs don’t make a right and having old songs with questionable morals don’t make new ones ok.

    Vern, have you read your own review? It’s positive because of the words you use and the last half is just how much you love the music. You can love all the Snoop Doggy Dog you want, that doesn’t make any of this deep. As Griff pointed out, Snoop Dog is the dictionary definition of sellout. He’s been a joke for so long that religion seems like the best way to repackage himself for an audience that has left him behind. A religion that lets you smoke pot and be the exact same guy of coarse, anything else would of been too much work. If Vern tells it like it is, why tell me this is a great documentary about a man trying to find himself when it’s him doing the same old shit he’s been doing. So he has new smoking buddies, which I guess he already angered according to the link above, so what?

  28. Eric – How dare you. I’ve said WAY more ignorant things that that.

    I didn’t excuse anything at all. The albums I mentioned are certified classic albums. That’s not just me saying it – if I wasn’t on my dinner break I’d look up some statistics on Rolling Stone charts and shit. At the same time, they talk about stupid shit on them. The complicated feelings and issues about these sorts of conflicts have been discussed over multiple decades by myself and others. They have been written about extensively here and elsewhere. I don’t agree with this black or white, either or, negative positive view of art. I think these are great albums just as DIRTY HARRY is one of my all time favorite movies and I don’t agree with its politics.

    I’m not excusing the misogyny. I’m acknowledging the dopeness. If you won’t acknowledge the dopeness I can’t help you. You know what Blade says about ice skating.

    Are you saying that if I don’t like someone coming in here being an asshole in my own forum named after me then I’m not allowed to listen to music that says dumb things in it, or are you saying that because I acknowledge the dopeness of Snoop Dogg and Dolemite records that I am then required to be okay with people being assholes here? I disagree, I think that’s one of them false equivalencies, it doesn’t hold up at all.

    idiot – Of course I completely disagree with most of what you’ve said, but you are also trying to force my review, this documentary, and the entire artform and culture of hip hip into a tiny standardized box that none of them will fit into. I think Snoop is a very talented and charismatic guy, great performer, has recorded many classic, has done alot of stupid shit, had a funny tv show one time, was in SOUL PLANE though, has made weak albums for a while. I think this movie is hilarious and entertaining and inspiring and thought provoking in complicated ways both intended and accidental. Your cynical feelings about Snoops journey have ZERO to do with the quality of the documentary. In fact they may make it better.

    Yes I love some of his albums, yes I love this movie, yes there are problems with both, and with him as a person. Have you seen the movie? I’m getting pissed off here. If you don’t believe me how interesting it is that’s fine, but what are we arguing about? And wouldn’t you feel insulted if you were me?

  29. And Griff, how many reggae albums did you and your young friends buy last year? Can you name one reggae artist besides Bob Marley? Do you know one person who listened to one reggae song not by a Marley last year?

    There are probly easier ways to try to be “relevant” is what I’m saying.

  30. it’s not about Reggae though, it’s about getting Snoop into the limelight again because he has something to actually talk about on Conan and Bill Maher again, he could have become a Dubstep guy or something, the actual genre doesn’t matter as much because let’s face it, Hip Hop is not quite what it was in it’s 90’s and early 2000’s heyday, sure you still have Kanye but it’s no longer quite the “it” thing it was

    and while I admit Hip Hop is not my area of expertise and I’m probably gonna make some of you guys really mad by saying this, but it always bothered me how quick and easy many Hip Hop artists would sell out and shill for whatever, Snoop being chief among them (and for example, this 50 Cent ad)

    now before you get out the pitchforks and torches I’m not saying all Hip Hop is bad or anything, it just always bothered me how it started out very serious and political and then became all about getting money (just look at Flavor Flav going from Public Enemy to reality tv trash, Flavor Flav is a guy I’m not afraid to say that I absolutely fucking hate), any culture that becomes just a tool of corporations to sell shit is not something I’m a big fan of, look at Extreme Sports

    “or how Liz Hurley’s tits are nothing special”

    I see what you did there, you guys are never gonna let me live that down are you? just remember though I never said she was ugly or anything

  31. grimgrinningchris

    April 29th, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Hey Vern,

    Actually reggae and reggae-rock are becoming increasingly viable in the marketplace lately.
    There are current reggae, reggae-rock and ska (and mixtures thereof) bands that are doing incredible numbers right now.

    Bands like SOJA, Tribal Seeds, Rebelution etc are packing out clubs all over the world. And there are older standbys from the 90s that are still doing VERY VERY well (Sublime, Slightly Stoopid, Pepper etc…)

    And what’s great about that is that most of them are going out of their way to go out on the road with classic reggae artists. Yes, it may be a little fucked up that Steel Pulse has to open for SOJA. But if it puts 1000 kids a night in the direct path of Steel Pulse’s (or Black Uhuru or Yellowman or Whoever) music…then all the better!

    I’m not going to try and make a call on whether or not Snoop’s decision was purely artistic or purely commercial or some grey area between…don’t know the man… But reggae IS very very relevant right now.
    I’ve certainly sold more tickets for new school reggae acts than I have classic hop hop acts in the last 3 years. And it seems to only be getting bigger.

  32. Griff:

    Milk… it does a body good.

  33. I don’t care about the quality of the documentary, I’m trying to find a way to say that Snoop Dogg is full of shit and this is not a spiritual journey but simply a marketing device that once served it’s purpose will be cast aside for something else. I just can’t figure out a way to say it. Remember when he joined the Nation of Islam? I didn’t, must of blinked and missed it. I’m sure he valued every second of it. But if you’re getting pissed off then I’ll stop, there’s nothing to be gained with this anyway. I mean if we start arguing about stuff on the internet then what will we become? A bunch of nerds that’s what.

  34. hello there Amazing Larry

  35. Since I don’t have anythign else to contribute, I was wondering if anybody here knows German Reggae artists like Gentleman or Seeed.

  36. idiot boy – At the end of the review I talk about my doubts that Snoop will stick with the reggae, or that he even should. I think it’s a great documentary not even regardless of that, but partly because of that. I felt like you were saying not only will I not take your recommendation to watch this movie, Vern, but I will still say that you’re wrong about it anyway. That’s why I was mad. No hard feelings though, I know you didn’t mean it.

    Griff – that kinda shit has been part of hip hop since Adidas noticed Run DMC. I never liked it either but most rappers consider making lots of money a good thing and don’t have the same guilt about it that I would if I put my name on a fuckin hot dog (which Snoop actually did).

    For 50 Cent it’s not selling out, since from the beginning his whole gimmick is that he is just squeezing out a product to make money from you and he is not interested in hip hop as an art or culture or doing a good job or enunciating or anything.

  37. Idiot boy, I like it when old songs throw in some offensive shit like singing about beating women or whatever. To put it simply, it makes them interesting, and I don’t care if it’s “wrong”. I just don’t get why hip hop gets so much flack for being morally vapid when certain forms of popular music have pretty much always been that way. Nobody I know of ever claimed that Johnny Cash’s religious conversion wasn’t valid (and he kept singing about killing women until the day he died). I don’t know what you’re getting out of saying Snoop’s spiritual journey isn’t legitimate. Is he full of shit? That’s up to Jah to judge.

  38. Someone said earlier, okay it was me and I guess it’s bad form to paraphrase yourself, that music speaks much more to the heart than movies do, and it’s not even worth discussing because people will have too strong emotional feelings about their own favorites to actually make sense in a debate. I too can name a lot of music I don’t like, but after a long life on the barricades I’ve learned not to anymore. Just let it be and let’s get back to movies.

  39. Vern, I love Snoop and I’m taking your recommendation. Now, I don’t really understand all that talk about selling out. Musicians sells music and its byproducts. Period. How is a banana velvet underground t shirt is any better than a RUN DMC snickers? Andy Warhol was a sell out. Alfred Hitchcock was a sell out. Elvis was a sell out. So fucking what?
    And, also, as others mentioned here, white artists like Dylan and Cash did murder songs long before Snoop. Same with misogyny – How is Jagger is different from Snoop?
    I don’t know, but I suspect that there is a racist double standard behind the attacks on Snoop on here.
    And more important. There is a basic ignorance here about hip hop as an artform. Get it already: It’s fiction, not reality. Snoop is a character, not a real person, just like Dirty Harry or Freddy. Do you really think that Scarface did all that shit he raps about in My Mind Playing Tricks on Me? Or that Biggie really committed suicide at the end of Ready to Die?

  40. I think part of it is that hip hop is so lyric-heavy. You fit way more words into a hip hop song and you say it more clearly, there’s more of it for people to pick apart and take offense to. Also, most forms of lyricism are a little more abstract than hip hop tends to be. You’re not totally sure what the fuck they’re talking about to be offended by.

  41. “For 50 Cent it’s not selling out, since from the beginning his whole gimmick is that he is just squeezing out a product to make money from you and he is not interested in hip hop as an art or culture or doing a good job or enunciating or anything.”

    I think that’s exactly what led to Hip Hop’s mainstream downfall, too many guys like 50 Cent had absolutely zero substance and eventually people just got bored since nobody was bringing anything new to the table (save for Kanye West, which is why his popularity survives) and the public moved on, it’s the same for Extreme Sports, there’s only so many times you can watch some jackass on a bike or skateboard do tricks, cultures and mediums have to evolve to stay popular or else they’ll fall into a niche

    the general public’s tastes are not exactly refined but even they get bored eventually, I keep telling myself it’s gonna happen to reality tv eventually since it’s all the same shit, people have to get bored sooner or later right? (of course sports are literally the exact same fucking thing year after year after year after year after year and they don’t get bored with that, so what do I know)

  42. Sheriff Chance – yeah everybody sells out to a degree, money makes the world go around etc, but you still have to at least try to keep it real, a lot of these guys just become lazy and don’t even try

    and I don’t get offended by any music Hip Hop or otherwise because music by it’s very nature is a base and primal art form that deals with base and primal emotions and sometimes people have not so nice emotional demons that they exorcise through song

    ok, well I do get offended by like white power rock or whatever, but you know what I mean

  43. Griff – Well, I agree that many of them got lazy over the years, including Snoop, from time to time. I also agree that Kanye is the most important hip hop artist of the last decade (after eminem, save from lil wayne maybe), although I don’t think he has the lyrical powers that 90’s rappers like Biggie,Jay-Z or Nas had. He is a great musician though, the greatest hip hop producer since Dre for sure.
    But what do you mean by keeping it real? I think 50 cent is keeping it’s real. He got out of the ghetto and he celebrates his wealth. that’s being real. If he was from a middle-upper class white family maybe he would have written songs like Imagine or Nevermind. The whole ‘keeping it real’ ethos is class related.
    Also, he had at least one nice album and some brilliant mixtapes before it.

  44. keeping it real to me is striving for excellence and not just shilling for whatever the fuck The Man wants you to

  45. I´m not in any way qualified to debate any of this since I´m not well versed in the mystic ways of hiphop. However, the awesomness of kung fu-movies has perhaps closed the cultural gap a bit, because recently I started to listen to Wu tang Clan and liked some of it. Not bad for a swedish hillbilly.

    Well,there is also that band who did the theme for JUSTIFIED. But knowing how allergic Vern is to them, i will not mention them by name so this post won´t be flagged for containing offensive words.

    Also german hiphip is hilarious.

  46. If you want to try some different sounding rap the game Sleeping Dogs had some good asian stuff.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL8tpFYxGrE

    The story of the song is interesting without glorifying gansta bullshit.

  47. Sleeping Dgs had hiphop? Man, I was too busy kicking ass to notice the soundtrack. The only song I remember was when I karaoked A flock of Seagulls “I ran (so far away)”

  48. I guess I need to see this now. When Snoop announced his move to reggae I cringed. Not because he was trying something different.

    Here’s the thing: In my opinion, reggae created by people who aren’t entrenched in the culture, music and politics of reggae from a young age generally make really shitty reggae music. Bands like Slightly Stupid and their suburban reggae counterparts take the essence of reggae and distill it until it could only sound right as the soundtrack to a Sprite commercial. Rappers like Eazy and DJ Quik create crappy psuedo-reggae tracks to sing the same old weed-&-pussy material as before but now which a crappy fake Jamaican accent. Even my favorite rapper of all time, Aceyalone, failed miserably at his attempt at a reggae album, as did Willie Nelson (obviously not a rapper, but still proof that just having talent and weed does not guarantee a great reggae album). The only real exception to the rule I can think of is the Clash and, to a lesser extent bands like Rancid who are simply doing an updated version of the Clash.

    Of course, these are my opinions, so feel free to disagree.

    Anyway, my point is that when Snoop said he was going reggae, I groaned. As much as I love Snoop, it has more to do with his charisma than his talent. Sort of how I love Arnold in movies because he’s Arnold, not because he’s going to deliver a jaw-dropping emotional performance.

    I wanted to avoid Snoop Lion at all costs. But, the film sounds really good and interesting. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even be happily surprised by a track or two.

  49. I’ve been reading up on Snoop the last couple of days, some interesting stuff and a few things that bother me. I liked the story about him working at the grocery store and his friends making so much more dealing. I’ll never agree with Vern on Snoop but I now think an autobiography of him would be a good read as long as it was honest.

  50. Not sure how this fits in with the enlightenment but its actually advertised as a tie-in lol

    http://www.destructoid.com/way-of-the-dogg-is-out-today-on-xbla-252994.phtml

  51. Keep this going please, great job!

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