This documentary charting Snoop Dogg's Rasta transformation to Snoop Lion is shallow and tenuous
Drug-dealing, guns, jail-time, pimping and bitches – Snoop Dogg’s had enough of the thug life. Freshly re-christened as Snoop Lion, the lanky Californian rapper heads to Jamaica on a physical, musical and spiritual quest to swap hip-hop depravity for Rastafarian peace and love, taking a camera crew along with him to document the pilgrimage. Them, and enough marijuana to chill out the sun.
Directed by Andy Capper, global editor of hipster bible Vice Magazine, the documentary follows Snoop from recording studios – where he’s working on a 'no-rapping' reggae album with producer Diplo – to Trench Town slums and mountainside weed plantations. His desire to explore outside of his comfort zone would be admirable, were every experience not somehow tenuously used as a device for Snoop to reminiscence about his already much-storied rise from a gangbanging youth in Long Beach to fame, fortune and subsequent near death amid the 90s rap scene beefs that claimed the lives of Biggie and Tupac.
Snoop’s reincarnation as a Rasta man eventually occurs at a pseudo-mystical ceremony presided over by grey-dreadlocked shamanic elders, and it should be his figurative arrival and the film’s clincher moment. But it’s hard to feel convinced that Snoop’s journey has indeed led to enlightenment and change, rather than simply confirmation of already-held beliefs in the righteousness of a spiritual movement placing at the centre of its credos copious usage of his favourite intoxicant.
By Jah – he doesn’t half enjoy a smoke. Through papers, pipes, bongs and all kinds of other complex-looking paraphernalia. Variously with Bob Marley’s son Damian, The Wailers’ sole surviving 65-year-old member Bunny, and a coterie of very dodgy-looking guys down an alleyway in poverty and violence-ravaged West Kingston. At one point we’re treated to Snoop’s ever-present hanger-on cousin Daz – typically high-as-the-sky – describing the benefits of lightly baking a joint in the oven. All told – and this film knows exactly who its audience is – a reminder of what famously enriching company habitual stoners are.