REINCARNATED (Andy Capper). 96 minutes. Opens Friday (March 15) at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNNN
Snoop Dogg trades in the gin and juice for pure Jamaican cess in Reincarnated, a documentary touting the former gangster rapper's foray into reggae.
Baptized Snoop Lion by Bunny Wailer himself, the born-again Rastafarian travels through Kingston in between recording sessions to visit Bob Marley's old digs, neighbourhoods and music schools, all while discussing what he wants to achieve with his new album.
The smell of a publicity tour is as potent as that of the reefer smoke on display, making it hard to believe Snoop's "reincarnation" is anything but a marketing gimmick. He admits as much in interviews, but over the course of the film his message becomes more heartfelt and endearing.
Even if you don't buy him as a reggae artist (the music might not convince you, despite Diplo's beats), you can't help but be won over by Snoop's search for a new identity. Unlike his contemporaries, he didn't become a business mogul like Dre and Jay-Z or a casualty like 2Pac and Biggie.
The 40-year-old family man laments his own rap sheet, which includes being a member of the Crips, a pimp and a player at the centre of hip-hop's deadliest period. No amount of guest spots on Katy Perry songs can wipe that slate clean.
With a legacy forever haunted by Death Row, Snoop is looking to reggae for something positive to leave behind. That's a worthwhile journey, even if it looks like it's sponsored by Adidas.