Rock It: Will ‘Snoop Lion’ alienate his fans?

Posted on November 14, 2013

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Rock It: Will ‘Snoop Lion’ alienate his fans?

Rapper Snoop Dogg performs on stage during a concert in Arendal, some 250 kms south of Oslo, 28 June 2012.AFP PHOTO /Toer Erik Schroder / scanpix        (Photo credit should read Schroder, Tor Erik/AFP/GettyImages)

Rapper Snoop Dogg performs on stage during a concert in Arendal, some 250 kms south of Oslo, 28 June 2012.AFP PHOTO /Toer Erik Schroder / scanpix (Photo credit should read Schroder, Tor Erik/AFP/GettyImages)

By: Rachael Mattice

What’s his name? – Snoop Dogg.

Not anymore. In late July, the hip-hop artist known as the Doggfather announced that he had been rechristened “Snoop Lion,” a name that represented a transition from rap music to reggae.

After taking a sabbatical to Jamaica to learn the craft of Rastafarianism, Snoop’s mindful transformation inspired him to give up the culture that made him the most eminent hip-hop artist in the industry for 20years, producing successful albums and getting avid entertainment exposure.

If Snoop is mentioned in conversation with almost any age group or niche genre audience, everyone will know his name. Bigger than Tupac, Dr. Dre and Flavor Flav, Snoop has built a star’s name for rap that is recognizable to even the extreme sides of the music spectrum and has built respect for his exhibition. That recognition, though, is what makes humans stubborn to change.

Whenever musicians try a new direction, it can backfire because fans are not getting the sound they initially fell in love with. We are not receptive of modification – we frown, spit and swear at it.

“Snoop Lion” could be the spiraling downfall of his legacy, tarnishing his image so he is perceived as a joke. No amateur in the business, he dedicated his name and gave his soul to that genre, so switching teams would not seem logical for any future career success or to maintain fan loyalty.

Just look at how Green Bay Packers fans responded to Brett Favre’s post-retirement comeback, jumping teams after creating a following for 16 seasons with one NFL organization.

However, Snoop Lion’s experimentation with reggae will likely be welcomed by the reggae community, propagating his intellectual diversity and spirituality. A lot of reggae’s cultural characteristics parallel with Rastafarianism, doting a more amiable, peace-filled existence.

Traditionally, hip-hop has more hostile and violent traits. The fan base from Snoop Dogg’s career up until this point may not be as encouraging toward his rebirth.

But who’s to say that expanding one’s persona is a bad thing? When life becomes charitable enough to allow a person to explore paradise, the music evolves toward that carefree lifestyle. Snoop Lion is over the hill, which merits him changes. Everyone goes through them, naturally, island-inspired (or maybe drug induced) in Snoop’s case.

His new album “Reincarnation” will be released this fall via Vice Records, with an accompanying documentary film to premiere in September. If the full album mimics the lead single “La La La,” it will provide the catch and hook to draw his devotees in.

Whether he attracts them for pure intrigue, or skepticism to see how much they hate it, his old-school name and talent will provide the revenue to keep “Snoop Lion” afloat.

Mattice is a producer and music journalist for the Journal & Courier. She can be reached on Twitter @RachaelM_JC.

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Posted in: "Rock It" Column