Essentially an MTV Cribs episode padded out to feature length, Andy Capper’s obsequious doc shadows Snoop Dogg—now Snoop Lion—during the making of his first reggae album. Given the waning fortunes of gangsta rap generally and Snoop’s recordings in particular, the change in sound might be seen as opportunistic, as would the change in moniker. Shifting from Dogg to Lion might put a dent in the sales of Reincarnated, but it also protects the classic brand: Should Reincarnated (the album or the film) flop, Snoop can always go back to doing what he does best.
Vice editor Andy Capper, who directed Reincarnated, seems happy to take Snoop at face value, as do figures like Louis Farrakhan and Bunny Wailer, who likens Snoop to Bob Marley: “It’s not just the weed—the struggle, the love, peace, power.” But when Snoop heads out to a Shantytown and tells locals, “I just wanted to bless you with some California herbs,” it’s hard not to feel the presence of the camera, or the sense that he’s quite literally slumming to generate catchy footage.
Snoop’s brief foray into the outside world does provide some insight through a brief encounter where a man comes out of the crowd and starts accosting the star, seeming to resent his intrusion. Rather than meeting the threatening air with bravado, Snoop smooth-talks him into posing for a picture. Whether the man was an irate fan all along or simply yielded to Snoop’s charisma and the power of celebrity is almost beside the point. Snoop’s skill at establishing himself on new territory has made him durable, as much as his impeccable flow. His remaining peers—as a segment of Reincarnated recalls, many haven’t survived to the present day—have moved into other careers or withdrawn from public life, but Snoop has been able to adapt.
Part of Snoop’s protean quality comes from the fact that his rhymes only cut so far: He can pivot freely because he’s never dug in too deep. There’s a hole to be filled in the parts of his life he doesn’t usually make public, but Reincarnated simply rehashes old stories about 2Pac and Suge Knight, then cuts to Snoop lighting a fattie.