TIFF Review Roundup: "Reincarnated"

Review: Three Arts Journalism graduate students offer their reviews of the new Snoop Dogg documentary.

The 2012-2013 Arts Journalism cohort had a chance to see a Toronto International Film Festival screening of the documentary Reincarnated. Presented here are three reviews from the screening.

While Reincarnated is packaged as a documentary of Snoop Dogg’s transition from a rough-and-tough rapper to the peaceful Rastafarian Snoop Lion, it’s mostly a self-indulgent, high-end home movie of his pot-filled trip to Jamaica to record his first reggae album.

Reincarnated shares a name with Snoop’s upcoming 12th album, though it could easily have shared the title Smokefest Underground with his 1998 release. It rarely goes more than three minutes without the mention or display of marijuana. We see pot in fields, in bouquets, in bags and on tabletops. We see Snoop and friends smoking in a car, on a porch, on a bamboo raft, in a recording booth and in countless Jamaican streets and homes. He smokes from a joint, from a blunt, from a pipe and, at one point, from a carrot.

Snoop spends the majority of the movie decked out in Adidas gear from head to toe – usually in a mix of the red, yellow and green of the Jamaican flag – hanging out with his entourage and getting tours of noteworthy neighborhoods from locals. It’s worth noting that the use of subtitles when these locals speak is arbitrary to the point that it’s offensive, particularly because many of them were more articulate than Snoop himself.

Between the smoking and touring, though, we do get a few glimpses into the recording of the album. Snoop spends some time with Bunny Wailer, and though the 65-year-old reggae great does give Snoop his new “Lion” surname, he also verbalizes his concern that the Rastafarian culture is being used too loosely to commercialize a reggae album. I’m with you on this one, Bunny.

Ultimately, Reincarnated doesn't reveal anything about the Jamaican or Rastafarian cultures beyond the dreadlocks and pot leaves that you already see on cheap souvenirs. When the credits roll, you’ll likely be glad to step out of the theater and into some fresh air.

- Melanie Deziel


Apparently, lions are bred from copious amounts of weed and reggae music, much too much for dogs to handle.  At least it seems this was the case for legendary rapper, Snoop Dogg, who is now known as Snoop Lion. The transformation came from Snoop searching to create another album entirely different from the rap and hip-hop staples with which he built his career. Determined to make music that showcases, “positivity, love and struggle,” Snoop headed on a month-long pilgrimage to Jamaica to connect with the Rastafarian way of life and create a new album that showcases that.

Rookie documentarian director, Andy Capper, tried hard in Reincarnated to convince audiences of Snoop’s genuine interest in adopting a new way of life, shown mostly through personal interviews by the former “Dogg Father” and his life of pimpin’, hustlin’ and thuggin’. Watching Snoop relive the reality of losing friends and collaborators Tupac Shakur and Nate Dogg humanized the rapper in a way not explored through his music. Also, the decision not to play snippets of any of Snoop’s music during these scenes drove home the point that certain relationships artists foster with people in the music industry goes far beyond just the music into partnerships that bond these individuals for life. These two moments were perhaps the most authentic scenes of the entire documentary.

While it was exciting to hear such energetic and positive Rastsa beats flowing from mega-producer Diplo and his team and seeing Snoop guest Bunny Wailer on an upcoming track, the documentary could’ve ended showing just those studio elements and it would’ve been just as effective. The “journey” the rapper went through to become a part of the Rastafari movement and praising, Jah, was too quick for anyone to take a reinvention of that magnitude seriously. Capper even admitted during a Q&A session after the screening that he and producers urged Snoop to attend certain spiritual events, yet, that Snoop’s reactions to the events are entirely his own, a tactic reminiscent of MTV’s staged reality show, “The Hills.” Everyone knows life changes don’t happen over the course of a month, so why is Snoop Lion going through all this trouble to convince us otherwise?
- Briana Prevost


Reincarnated, a documentary about Snoop Dogg’s transformation into the Rastafarian Snoop Lion, gives viewers a sneak peek into the hip-hop based, marijuana fueled life of the rap star. It is arguable, however, that Snoop Dogg’s change is a façade, an unbelievable hoax to market himself and gain money. After all, he is smoking weed in every scene and he managed, not so discreetly, to include product placement whenever possible. Nevertheless, these factors seem irrelevant when analyzing the film for a deeper meaning. The film successfully shows how music can be a binding force among people.

The film reveals the journey Snoop Dogg took to reinvent himself into a Rastafarian and reggae artist and the challenges he faced to reach that journey. Reincarnated also brings attention to individuals who are suffering and the escape they can find with the right lyrics and beat.

The director, Andy Capper, created great balance between Snoop Dogg’s past and where he is presently.  Glimpses of Snoop Dogg facing murder charges and of him attending his close friend’s funeral expose the hardships that the rapper has faced. Then, viewers are given a peek at the highlights of his career. Snoop Dogg shines while on stage performing and while recording his new reggae album in Jamaica. This film documents the adoration in resilience and the many rewards that may come as a result.

Set in the beautiful hills of Jamaica, Reincarnated is visually appealing. The images of the Jamaican jungle and the Atlantic Ocean are contrasted with a glance into the poverty and struggle that some Jamaicans face. Snoop Dogg meets some of those individuals and bonds with them over music. In a neighborhood full of crime and destitution, there is a moment of relief when Snoop Dogg and the residents of the area begin to sing together. In unfortunate circumstance, it is assuring to know that music can provide an outlet to brighter times.

- Alyssa Nappa

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