Snoop Lion or Snoop Lyin'?

Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

(The Root) — Calvin "Snoop Doggy Dogg" Broadus, aka Snoop Dogg, aka Snoop — the man whose rap music changed the face and direction of music and hip-hop culture — has announced that he is tired of hip-hop and is now a reggae artist. Broadus came to this conclusion while in Kingston, Jamaica, for a 35-day visit.


During the visit, Snoop Dogg became spiritually enlightened and decided that as a 40-year-old man, he needed to do something different. After participating in a Rastafarian rite of passage, Broadus embraced the religion and was given two new names: Berhane, an Ethiopian name meaning "light of the world," and Snoop Lion (the lion is a major symbol in Ethiopian and Rastafarian culture).

The rap icon now wants to make music that children can hear, going so far as to include his daughter on the track entitled, "No Guns Allowed," which is on his upcoming album, Reincarnation. The man behind the hip-hop classic "Murder Was the Case" — who famously beat a murder-one charge, helped make "chronic" a household word and espoused the virtues of gin and juice — now has a conscience, as reflected in his name change and adoption of reggae music.

It's nothing new for celebrities to change their names. And for Broadus, who claims to believe that he is reggae legend Bob Marley reincarnated, performing reggae is not new. Reggae music and Jamaican culture are at the core of the birth of rap music and hip-hop culture. DJ Kool Herc, KRS-One or Busta Rhymes, anyone?

The fallacy that hip-hop is solely a black-American creation is what allows fans and Broadus to act as if he's doing something new. Rap music and hip-hop culture are a confluence of global black cultures that came together in the Bronx, N.Y. There are all types of musical influences in rap music, including funk, calypso, reggae, soca, salsa, soul, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, jazz, rumba and soukous.

While I'm not a complete hater and believe that people can change, Broadus' foray into reggae smacks of marketing more so than a spiritual change.

Rastafarianism is more than just smoking ganja, wearing dreadlocks and swapping out a dog for a lion. It is a complex, African-centered religion that is as much cultural as it is spiritual and is tied to important black movements, including that of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association and the People's Political Party in Jamaica.


Worshipping Marley does not a Rastafarian or reggae artist make, and claiming to be Marley, a man who dedicated his life to Rastafarianism, is laughable. Along with Lion's spiritual rebirth, there is an album (slated for September), a documentary and coffee-table book to demonstrate his spiritual transformation.

Sorry, I'm not buying this new Snoop Lion — at least not yet, because I'm not convinced of his enlightenment. I'm all for examining and embracing new philosophies and cultures, but does it really have to come with a marketing plan outlined in articles and interviews?


Perhaps if Broadus were more forthcoming about the role he played in the negative direction of rap music, or suggested that his foray into reggae is an attempt to right this wrong or to restart a rap career that isn't stalled but is clearly on the decline, then perhaps he would be taken more seriously. But it's hard to take seriously a man known as much for buffoonish antics as he is for his legendary rap talents. Further, a man who has made the bulk of his money by degrading women and glorifying violence and drug use — all while being married and a father — has a lot to disprove, and a name change isn't going to cut it.

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., is editor-at-large for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., a media scholar, is digital editor in chief at Grady Newsource and a faculty member of the Cox Institute of Journalism, Innovation, Management & Leadership at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. She is founder and editor in chief of the award-winning news blog the Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter here or here.