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Review: Snoop Lion - Reincarnated [Album]

Review: Snoop Lion - Reincarnated [Album]

RCA // "Reincarnated is at its strongest when it sticks as close as possible to its reggae designation."

Review 2187 Views
Last Edited by: Jack Stovin April 23rd, 2013.

Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. - also known as Snoop Dogg, DJ Snoopadelic, Tha Doggfather, Uncle Snoop and Snoopy the Exalted One - adopted a new moniker early last year: Snoop Lion, following an epiphanic encounter with a Rastafari High Priest during a trip to Jamaica. This sojourn no doubt began with the intention of smoking the majority of the small island’s cosmic shrubbery, but concluded with Snoop’s conversion to the Rastafari movement and the announcement of the newly Christened Lion of Zion’s departure from hip-hop to create his first reggae album, entitled Reincarnated. The entire trip was documented in a Vice-directed movie of the same name that was released last year to less than favourable reviews, with many critics slating it as shallow, self-serving and in terms of his ostensible conversion, unconvincing and even insulting. But that’s by the by. What’s important is that with Reincarnated we've gone from dog to cat and rap to reggae. Whether The Artist Formerly Known As Snoop Dogg’s spiritual conversion and conspicuous Jamaican accent may or may not be totally contrived is largely irrelevant, since the musical outcome of this identity shift is pretty good, for the most part.

Reincarnated is at its strongest when it sticks as close as possible to its reggae designation. ‘So Long’, ‘Fruit Juice’, ‘Here Comes the King’ and ‘Smoke the Weed’ are all excellent summer jams, perfect accompaniments to drinking lemonade in the shade and getting blazed with a gang of pilgrims - or to playing Dark Souls all day in your pyjamas and waiting for death, like I've been doing. Either way, the majority of the album is enjoyable, despite being fundamentally shallow. 'Remedy' includes a solid feature from Busta Rhymes, even though I'm not convinced that he’s actually saying anything when he does all that rapid-fire 'Wadadada' shit. ‘La La La’ is as close to the Platonic form of reggae as you’re going to find on this record, offsetting its lack of inventiveness with strong execution and just plain catchy songwriting.

Despite being touted as such, this isn't a strictly reggae album. Diplo and Major Lazer's two-pronged production often incorporates elements of electronic music, from the ring modulated synths of ‘Fruit Juice’ to the obnoxious but admittedly enjoyable drop in the otherwise generic club banger ‘Get Away’.

However, it's a lot of these non-reggae elements that cheapen the overall positive listening experience of Reincarnated, culminating not only in the aforementioned club bangers but in asinine, overly sentimental bores such as ‘The Good Good’,‘Torn Apart’, and ‘Ashtrays and Heartbreaks’, the title of the latter sounding like something you’d find scribbled in Billie Joe Armstrong’s diary, flanked on all sides by black hearts and little kawaii skulls. Oh, and the track features Miley Cyrus, of all people. These poppier, electro-heavy tracks are terminally overproduced, signifying to me that Major Lazer in particular wanted to leave his mark on this album in the loudest way possible. I single out Major Lazer in this indictment mainly because he inexplicably feels it necessary to insert a sample of his own name into the background of every track at least eight times. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it still occurs enough times for it to grate. It happens more than once, I know that.

These shortcomings notwithstanding, Reincarnated is a decent effort. Its charm may be considered tawdry, disingenuous or downright offensive depending on your proclivities, but most of the album is comprised of well written hooks and stress free vibes, which is what really matters.

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