“It’s so much death, it’s so much destruction, it’s so much mayhem, and it’s so much misunderstanding in music. We’re losing so many great musicians, and we don’t love them while they’re here, and I wanna be loved while I’m here. The only way to get love is to give love.” – Snoop Lion.
You remember when Prince turned himself into a symbol and people thought he was crazy, but he still put out the same music that people knew and loved? Well, the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg (now Snoop Lion) went into a completely different path, and I know I’m not the first person to tell you that I wasn’t for the movement at all. I get it, he smokes a lot of weed, he embraces the Jamaican culture and reggae music, but you are still the same rapper who once said: “and ya don’t stop, cuz it’s 1-8-7 on an undercover cop” and also “Showin’ much flex when it’s time to wreck a mic pimpin’ ho’s and clockin’ a grip like my name was Dolomite,” so it’s funny that Snoop has found this new chapter in his life to essentially ‘start over’ and take a broad step in another direction. I still find it pretty difficult to take him serious on a reggae album, because – it’s Snoop Dogg, he’s not a reggae artist; he’s one of the best rappers ever. The term reincarnated means that you’re reborn in the afterlife or ‘Life After Death.’ The only other reference to reincarnation from a rapper (that I could go off the top of my head) was Ab-Soul on ‘Book of Soul’ (emotional song):
Stick to the plan, I’ll meet you at our spot
If reincarnation is true and we don’t get too lost
Even if you forget me and everything you left behind
I never lied, I love you in a place where there’s no space and time
Now, it is believed that Rastafarians do believe in the concept of Reincarnation and everlasting life, and based on Snoop’s initial statement, he would rather be loved while he’s still alive as opposed to when people cherish you when you’re dead. It’s true, the dead do get remembered more than when alive, and it’s sad that it happens that way, but this step in direction isn’t exactly the best way to solidify your career. It’s different, and there are definitely people who agree with what he’s doing, but from a fan’s perspective having grown up listening to Snoop, this is very weird to me – but the difference is that he’s promoting positivity, peace, and love with this album, and that’s something that doesn’t often get promoted and glorified, so I will credit him for that. Having said that he possess the spirit of Bob Marley within him, it’s interesting, fascinating, and almost nerve-wracking as to what will come of this album, so with that being said – let’s begin.
Already the Bob Marley references come at you on Rebel Way. Bob Marley was the ‘Soul Rebel’, who lived his life as he did and people said whatever about him, but he kept living because the talk of others never got to him:
I’m a rebel, let them talk,
Soul rebel, talk won’t bother me
I’m a capturer, that’s what they say
Soul adventurer, night and day
Snoop is a rebel, because he’s going a direction that no one would go through. Making reggae is something that no one had anticipated, but with time moving and changes always occurring, Snoop’s looking to leave his past behind and focus on what’s right, right now. His patois (or lack thereof) is comical, and this is coming from a Canadian-Jamaican, but he does have melody, so I won’t knock him for that. The thing is that this doesn’t feel like reggae music just because there’s a message about overcoming struggle and the ‘distinctive’ sound that’s emulated.
It’s only the second song, but Snoop already lost me with Here Comes The King, because he combined rap elements in a reggae song. Also, if you’re claiming that this is an album that promotes non-violence, what’s up with the first bar on the hook?
We at war with the army of haters
And when we kill em we just smoke ’em like papers
If you’re going to remain consistent with a theme, don’t contradict yourself, dude. That song threw me off, because there was a clash of rap/reggae in there that didn’t exactly create a harmonious vibe, but when Lighters Up came on, that was a different story, because the beat is wicked and the additions of Mavado and Popcaan gave it a dancehall feel to it (I’m guessing that was the intent).
“Usually I make a weed song, so here go a weed song” – Wiz Khalifia (Still Blazin’)
Ironic, because that song had a reggae sample, but the point is that this was a weed song – it’s inevitable when it comes to Snoop, and the Gully God himself would do much justice on a song like this, so gwan mek ‘im flourish. I doubt this will be played at any House jam at any particular point, but within a small group of people sharing a blunt, I can see it. Get high and love life is the moral of the song.
The common theme that Snoop has been portraying up to this point is that he has addressed his haters that aren’t with his Snoop Lion personality change, but this is what they just have to deal with. So Long continues the theme, but casts an eerie foreshadow that if he dies, he’s glad that he’s been here to enjoy it. Snoop, you’re not old, man. Stop talking about death. But this is what caught me sideways, because it sounded like House/Techno – Get Away. Now I really don’t know where Snoop is going with the direction of this album. You knew that it was bound to happen, and yet again you have mentions of warriors and guns in the lyrics? This isn’t a double entendre we’re talking about here, so Snoop, I ask, wa gwan my youte?
If you live in Toronto (or you pay attention to the news wherever you are), on July 16th, 2012 there was a disgusting act of gun violence in Scarborough (I actually have family where the scene occurred) and over 20 people were shot, including 2 young lives claimed. Shyanne Charles & Joshua Yasay were victims of gun violence and local artist, P. Reign made a song titled ‘Angels’ to commemorate them, and I respected that. What I didn’t expect, and the main reason why I like No Guns Allowed is because Drake, with his large platform, took it upon himself to address the matter. I can respect him for the fact that he did that because he’s good to know that he’s still aware of what’s going on. You don’t have to be from the area in order to show love.
They just can’t wait to get you in the system
The district attorney could use a conviction
Told you no guns and then you didn’t listen
Life is so heavy with that on your soul
Dedicate this to Shyanne and Josh
And pour sumthin’ out for the lives that they stole
That was the only highlight of the song, because on the songs prior, you’re talking about killing haters and evidently guns, so there’s not much I can take seriously about this, to be quite honest.
Introducing Mr. ‘Brukk it Dung’ Vegas (Heads High for my generation) with the feature on this one. You can’t enjoy your trees without some proper juice, and surprisingly, it’s not alcohol – it’s Fruit Juice. You can easily just bypass this track as it’s really nothing special. It’s like there’s a clash of substance and nothingness at the same time, when it comes to this album so far. It’s depressing, to say the least, but on Tired of Running, something that we black men can relate to – the police. The law isn’t exactly the friendliest, and when you have to do what you have to do to hustle, sometimes you get caught up with the police, and it’s not the best task. What I didn’t know was that this is a cover of a track Akon did in 2006. It explains why he’s on the track in the first place. Smooth track – one of the better ones on the album (although it’s not originally his). The Good Good is the good life that most want but never seem to get. Having the time to do what you want when you want, with no time limits or constraints. This is what Snoop has been blessed with in his ‘reincarnated life’, but with the love of his life by his side.
When one sees Rita Ora, Miley Cyrus, Busta Rhymes, and Chris Brown on a supposed ‘reggae album’ tracklist, you scratch your head and anticipate what exactly you’ll hear. I won’t lie to you, people; this feels more like a mockery than a genuine gesture of respect for reggae culture. There are combinations of Pop and Hip Hop combined, and it’s not even that it came out together well – it’s just a bunch of noise that was compiled and thrown on an album. The only remaining true ‘reggae’ songs on this album were Boulevard & Harder Times, which both featured Jahdan (Jordan, in patois – I would know because I’ve heard it my entire life) Blakkamoore. Both songs embody what reggae’s about, although the execution wasn’t there for me, at all. And that’s the overall feeling I have for the whole album.
Call him Snoop Dogg or call him Snoop Lion, that’s your choice, but my choice is that I wish I didn’t listen to this album at all, and here’s why. I will definitely look at this album in a different light than most, because of my Jamaican decent, and having grown up listening to Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Buju Banton, Beenie Man, and the names go on and on – you’re born into reggae music, and the culture lives with you until you die. It’s not just something that you pick up and run with. I encountered how a lot of people treat reggae, when I started college. First things first, everyone always associated smoking weed with reggae music. It’s an influence, sure, but it’s not the only thing that makes it reggae music. With Snoop, I feel as though his heart was in the right place, but when you say you’re going to make a reggae album because the Spirit of Bob Marley floats within you, don’t disrespect the man like that. You had pop artists and techno beats on a reggae album and you think people aren’t going to give you backlash for it? People are still upset about the Chant Down Babylon album because of the remixes (Oh, you think we forgot, huh?). This album did more harm than good when it comes to his legacy. It’s true, we don’t have a positive message being spread throughout music, I totally agree, but what I don’t agree with is using reggae music as an outlet when it’s clearly not the strength that should be approached – take it whichever direction you must, but that’s exactly what it is. I commend him for giving reggae artists a spotlight on a bigger platform, but as far as a reggae music fan, there’s no way I can respect this album at all. It’s funny that so many artists have references of reggae or some type of rastafarian homages in their lyrics. It feels like a fad that people just run with, but you never know – some people might be genuine, but I don’t see it. This is just my opinion, this is my review, but for now
That’s My Word & It STiXX