When I had heard Snoop Dogg had become Snoop Lion (or as I call him, Snoop Unicorn) I was skeptical to say the least. This is not the first time the wayward rapper, self-confessed ex-pimp and 4/20 supporter has sought a new direction. Back in 2009 he confessed his change of heart converting to Islam and now the change to the oldest branch (Niyabinghi) of Rastafarianism. All of this could be taken lightly if it wasn’t for the abhorrent cartoonish nature Snoop brings to all his endeavours which breeds a certain insincerity in his image. But at least there is no shallow ‘Haile Selassi’ references in the songs (well one, but it’s not from Snoop). That’s just a bonus.
You can’t half tell the album is produced and executively produced by Diplo and the Major Lazer experience. It’s as if people meet Diplo, smoke a jazz cigarette and somehow get whisked off to see Jamaica and confess their undying love for Rastafari to excuse their rampant and uncontrollable weed usage. It seemed a logical step for Snoop to make his way to Rastafarianism. The problem with this album though, is Mr Unicorn fails to hit the mark with the majority of the songs. He can’t sing, should have never tried and really has dramas bringing in appropriate guests to the album. Drake? Miley Cirus? Rita Ora? Chris Brown??? Aaarrrgh, for fuck’s sake! But deep in the well of double figure long lists of collaborators are some really nice choices (despite being under utilised). Mavado makes an appearance (check your Dancehall playbook for that one) Angela Hunte (writer responsible for the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys smash, New York State of Mind) and Busta Rhymes (criminally underused in the track).
I do have some reservations regarding the production level of the album. It seems to be well over produced but I have to say, I really like the depth and quality of what is there. Diplo and Major Lazer have added some of the best electro and slinky basslines in a release in a while. Just knowing how prolific Diplo is and how wide his reach is makes this feel a little more legit than if Snoop did this by himself. I criticised the shit out of William entry #willpower yesterday, and was all geared up to do the same with this record but I have to stop short of the rusty drill bit by and large due to Diplo’s creative input which elevates this album away from the bottom of the star rating to about midway. But this could have been released *without* Mr Unicorn and it would have just been a really good Mazor Lazer album, because that’s what it feels like. There’s even some highly recycled Major Lazer beats and iconic noises in there just to wrap it all up. I reckon Snoop was so blazed he didn’t even noticed before it was released.
There is a certain insulting nature this record has to true Rastafari. The somewhat popularisation of said *serious* philosophical thought is almost lost on people outside Jamaica. There has been an outcry after Snoop cited Bunny Wailer, Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff as major influences in an act of alignment which caused legit rastas to cry foul. That aside though, if you watch the accompanying doco with the same name, Reincarnated makes perfect sense. It’s just a little contrived, that’s all.
The message in this album is pretty good. Save the earth, stop fighting each other, Gun control in the world, political struggles in the Middle East and some pretty good advertisements for puffing on a blunt. At least it’s not all “I’ll fuck you up with my nines blah blah blah” and there’s isn’t a hint of misogyny to be found which is highly refreshing.
Overall, it could have an abject disaster and to be truthful; it nearly was. Just thank the weed gods he found his calling through Diplo and not through some other lesser producer.