Jamaicans say Snoop Lion is Jafakin’

A Lion in Zion? Snoop Dogg embraces Rasta, changes name

By Nicholas Nehamas

Snoop Dogg has changed his name to Snoop Lion, and his persona from hip hop gangsta to chilled out Rasta.

Jamaicans don’t seem very impressed with Snoop Dogg. Excuse me…make that Snoop Lion.

The West Coast rap star changed his name from canine to feline, and wants to change his image, too. Snoop says a religious experience has awakened him to Rastafarianism, an Afro-centric religion with roots in Jamaica. As a result, he’s given up hip-hop in favor of reggae.

“I have always said I was Bob Marley reincarnated,” says Snoop.

Jamaicans aren’t so sure. Writing in the Jamaica Observer, Barbara Gloudon goes after the American star: “Rapper Snoop Doggy Dog has decided to go Rasta, in costume at least, maybe to save a career which naw sey nutten right now. So he’s converted from Dawg to Lion, and nuff Rasta colors to go with it. Try yuh best Snoops! It takes more than a costume to make a Lion in Zion.”

Meanwhile, reader comments on a piece from the Jamaica Gleaner were equally biting. “I like Snoop,” says one, “but his attempt at Reggae is horrible, he needs to stick to that which is familiar to him.”

Another: “It is just another case of Reggae robbery.”

And our favorite from a poster who wrote that Snoop is simply “JAFAKING!”

But some Jamaican dance-hall and reggae artists disagree, perhaps wary of angering a potential new collaborator.

“Him have to seh Snoop Lion,” argues Elephant Man in an interview with the Weekend Star, “cause him come a Jamaica and him see the culture and how sweet reggae and dancehall music is . . . him come and get addicted to the culture.”

Among other things, we’re sure.

Snoop’s new single “La La La,” produced by Major Lazer, is currently number four on the iTunes reggae chart. Their album, Reincarnated, and a related documentary debut this year.  So can Snoop Lion sing? Here at Latitude News we still prefer the chill beat on “Ain’t Nuthin’ but a G Thang.” But have a listen for yourself and let us know what you think in the comment box below.