In her monthly column, guff-film buff Diane Spencer sorts the cinematic wheat from the chaff, then throws all the wheat away. This month she turns her attentions to Reincarnated, which documents Snoop Dogg’s explorations (read: exploitations) of Rastafarian culture.
Before you read this, please understand I came to this film with no knowledge of Rastafari religion or Jamaican culture, nor the history of Snoop Dogg. It just looked vaguely interesting; American rapper Snoop Dogg goes on a pilgrimage to Jamaica, filmed by Vice’s Andy Capper.
The one thing I know is, if you aren’t Jamaican and you do a Ja-fake-n accent, you’re a dick.
Snoop was actually born in Long Beach California but publicly aligned himself as Rastafari (read: rebranding exercise), explaining that before the trip his third eye “wasn’t open”. When I have that problem, I don’t poach someone else’s culture, I just eat more fibre.
Anyway, Snoop leaves his inexplicably small flat and flies to Jamaica, somehow smuggling weed upon his person (I know of only one way to do this).
Upon arrival, we’re treated to B-roll shots of street graffiti and Snoop calls into a small, studio where they all begin to smoke copious amounts of weed. Smoking ganja is a part of Rastafari religion, though it is not compulsory, and some Rastafari have apparently expressed frustration at the stereotypes perpetuated.
Snoop’s tour continues, visiting Bob Marley’s home and sites of historical interest to the reggae community, including the mosaic of the lion from Zion. The people of the town gather – a superstar American has come to their town, so understandably people are curious and flock. There’s a group of lads who make sure they get close to Snoop, everyone has copious amounts of weed and they want to hang out with Snoop.
“Snoop explains that before the trip his third eye ‘wasn’t open’. When I have that problem, I don’t poach someone else’s culture, I just eat more fibre.”
Nothing new there but then a chap raps for him. This is the first turn of the film, and if you like cringe comedy, where the interest starts. Snoop looks deeply uncomfortable, making nice noises about maybe taking that chap to a recording studio “can do that” and you can see this young man feels like his audition piece has paid off and he’s going to be on Snoop’s next album. I cannot believe that this is the first time that Snoop has had a young rapper get in front of him to try to show off to earn his imaginary golden ticket, but this somehow looks like the first time it’s happened. Snoop’s entourage is too stoned to get him out of there and there are no security people to put up that precious red velvet rope.
Then there are people packing into the house (I don’t know what house they are in by now and Snoop looks like he’s not sure either). Snoop eventually escapes to the roof, where he sits with one of the young chaps, who has that look of “I’m hanging out with Snoop Dogg, it’s all Champagne, fur coats and entourage from here.” A huge group of people have turned up to see the star on the roof. The documentary intercuts this with scenes from Snoop Dogg’s music video Who am I (What’s my Name?). The contrast of these two images is stark – the Americans are extras in a music video – enthusiastic, dancing and singing in time, all healthy young people in a comparatively rich country. Cut back to a rich American man sat on a roof in a poorer neighbourhood, as families old and young flock to catch a glimpse of an international star.
The most cringeworthy moment comes when Snoop Dogg visits a school, where the teachers are clearly hoping he will be some kind of role model for the children. The school band play a lovely tune on trumpets for him and at the end, rather than respectfully clapping, Snoop cries out “Yah mon” in a mock Jamaican accent, completely mis-reading the entire situation. There is a justifiably awkward pause and I, for one, am delighted the filmmakers left it in.
“Well done Snoop: after sticking it to the man for so long, you became him.”
Later, Snoop meets Bunny Wailer one of the original members of Bob Marley and The Wailers, and Bunny accepts him into his Jamaican culture and Rastafari religion, even going so far as to take Snoop to a “purification” ceremony at a Nyabinghi temple, where he is reborn and christened with a new name – Snoop Lion. After the documentary Bunny blasted Snoop for failing to live up to “verbal contractual agreements” and Snoop took him off his album.
The problem is that Snoop seems to think that the Jamaican culture is his own, but it really isn’t – his culture is America. He has used the Rastafari to rebrand his own music because he’s fed up with hip-hop. But the cold gamble plays off: the Reincarnated album reached number one in the US Reggae chart.
I urge you to watch this cringe-worthy film about a rich American visiting a foreign land, then exploiting their culture to rebrand his business. Well done Snoop: after sticking it to the man for so long, you became him.
Would I watch this again? No, cringe comedy puts me off. Would I recommend other people watch this? Yes, because it’s amazing to see Snoop Dogg be the awkward guy.3370 Views
Diane Spencer is a standup comedian and writer. Her favourite genres include comedy, horror and sci-fi. Loves halloumi.