The whole Snoop Lion thing probably deserves some comment fourteen months after the rapper formerly known as Snoop Dogg decided to reinvent himself. I say probably because, after what I’ve heard coming out of the Snoop camp starting with the release of ‘‘, produced by Major Lazer, I’m not convinced that Snoop Dogg v2.0 merits any discussion. At the outset, both Brother J and I wrote off the transformation as a media stunt, a conspiracy given more potency by the announcement of the release of a film titled ‘Reincarnated’ by Vice Films, that would accompany the return of the Lanky One. That movie dropped a couple of weeks ago but the stunt (if there even is one) shows no signs of dissipating, instead entrenching itself bit by bit in mainstream culture. The developments are reminiscent of Joaquin Phoenix’s spectacular and public disintegration which many also anticipated was a hoax until it turned out to be fodder for 2010 Casey Affleck mockumentary ‘I’m Not Here’. But where Joaquin Phoenix’s eccentric behaviour seemed explicable from the vantage point of understanding it was film material, over a year into Snoop Lion’s reincarnation, after being rechristened in Jamaica and joining the Rastafarian movement, the material he’s putting out still makes very little sense.
Full disclosure: I’ve never really rated Snoop Dogg as an artist. Of course, ‘‘ and ‘‘ – those mid-2000s hip-hop standards from his’ R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece’ – remain strong sentimental favourites. But in each of those, it was something else that caught my ear: the Neptune’s awesomely simple production and the Charlie Wilson/Justin Timberlake assistive vocal combo (if you like that, hear this) respectively. Going to see him live alongside Ice Cube in Sydney a few years ago, I recall leaving shortly after the former N.W.A. member left the stage, so disappointed was I with Snoop’s self-important attitude to performing. That lackadaisical approach to artistry seems to have been deposed with the newly invigorated iteration of Snoop but no amount of passion can make up for a lack of talent. There has been much historical speculation that Snoop uses a ghostwriter for his lyrics. If that’s still the case now, I can’t imagine who or how much he’s paying. Surely not a professional.
To say that Miley Cyrus is actually one of the best things about this track is to give you a fairly good indication that this doesn’t rank too highly up the Snoop spectrum. To use the spiritual terminology Snoop appears to be a fan of these days, the stars all appear to be aligned for his reincarnation. On this track, he has the former Disney Channel star for tween cachet and production from Major Lazer’s Diplo and Ariel Rechtshaid, they guy behind the world-beating Plain White T’s track ‘‘. On this other pseudo-controversial joint he dropped yesterday, ‘‘, he has Drake for relevance and Cori B (ie. Cori Broadus, Snoop’s daughter) for filial interest. And yet, inescapably and ridiculously, he’s still Snoop Dogg, this bastion of hip-hop all the way from back in the days of Dre, trying to be a sort of Jamaican demigod. The proverbs come thick and fast (‘What goes up must come down’, ‘Life ain’t fair’, ‘Never miss what you have until it’s gone’) and Snoop’s laboured delivery of them kind of makes me want to throw up in my mouth. The concept is okay and on all fronts except Snoop’s, it could have been a winner. I’m just hoping there’s a mockumentary at the end of this Rasta rainbow.
Snoop Lion Ft. Miley Cyrus – Ashtrays and Heartbreaks