Snoop Lion; Gang-banger to Rasta?

Snoop Lion

Americas most loved gangster rapper is now a follower of ‘Jah Rastafari’…

Ex gang-banger Snoop Dogg confirmed his new direction and found love for reggae music, and more surprisingly the ways of Rastafari after being given the name Buhana by Rastafarian elders when he attended a Nyabinhi ritual (spiritual rasta gathering) on the island of Jamaica earlier this year – making Calvin Broadus no longer Snoop Dogg, but now ‘Snoop Lion’

His visit goes back to last February, but it was just a couple of weeks ago at a press conference that he announced his name change and turn-a-bout into reggae music which has been met with obvious surprise and suspicion from several factions like the rap community and the US media.

Snoop Lion

Is it just another image change from the ex Death Row artist?

Like with his past ventures into the porn and car industry, and even country & western music. Its among the US Hip Hop scene where artists commonly change their names and persona’s using AKA’s, P-Diddy is still after all these years the daftest one ever but some how he got away with it and Old Dirty Bastard had more alias’s than Mr Benn.
Or does Snoop actually mean it when he says no more rapping about ‘flicking the switch’, ‘Ho’s on his er..Manhood’ or ‘5-O’ on his back while chilling with his homies (who will now surely be his ‘Yardies’) for the sweeter sentiments of loving Jah and all things reggae, which includes ‘getting high’ – some thing Snoop is more than familiar with.

Either way its only the pioneers that go where no man (or woman) has been before regarding the crossing of genres, Bowie did it every week in the 70’s/80’s – and if anything its going to be interesting!. So very soon we could be hearing Snoop dropping those ‘phat’ beats for the ‘Chica-chica-chica’ slow tempo of a guitar on the ‘off-beat’, the basic formula of traditional reggae.

Reincarnated ‘Snoop Lion’

Wanting to find more about Rastafari and reggae music Snoop’s calling initially came when he travelled to Jamaica to film a documentary. Showing the Crip gang member (‘crippin till I die’, so they say) finding his way round the island’s music, culture and understanding of Jamaica’s devotion to the Imperial Majesty Halie Selassie I, King of Kings, conquering Lion of Judah, its from that visit his decision was made. The doc was all about snoop doing his homework on the roots of the Rastafarian movement, roots that go back 60 years or more.

The Roots of Rastafari

Snoop’s home work on Rastafari and the movement of ‘Jah People’ would of took him back to the end of the 1950’s when a strange group of people, who were originally called ‘beardmen’ set up an encampment in the Government yards of Trench Town, an area named ‘the Dungle’.

These people believed only the righteous would move forward through the apocalypse into a new era, by battling to save the world from the protractors of the Babylonian greed and destruction which endeavoured to destroy both humanities essential good and the environment in which positivity may flourish… but more commonly they were seen as social out casts who were rumoured to live in the drainage gullies carrying around parts of people they had murdered in plastic bags.

Due to such divided opinions early Rasta’s were commonly brutalised and imprisoned by police which one Rudolf Franklyn, a rasta who’d had enough of such treatment took his revenge by murdering 2 people on the edge of Montego Bay. The next day Jamaica’s premier Alexander Bustamante sanctioned an attack by Jamaican security forces on Franklyn’s rasta camp which resulted in Franklyn and several associates being shot dead but further more across the island police started to beat on all Rasta’s as well as shaving their locks off.

The term Rastafarian comes from the trio of ‘Mountian Lions’, Ethiopian guerrillas who swore not to cut their hair until Ethiopia was freed from Italian occupation – wearing their hair long and uncombed in the same manner as Indian Saddhus. But it wasn’t until the 60’s that locks became more common amongst the movement which began to unnerve the conventional populace of Jamaica. Due to this their appearance and hair style was given the dark-term ‘fear-locks’ which mutated into the less threatening ‘dreadlocks’.

It was in 1961 when respected rasta Mortimer Planner travelled to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to meet his Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie, in turn giving the rasta’s a direct link to what they saw and felt as their spiritual home and place of birth. This later led to the Haile Salassies historical trip to Jamaica where he was received by thousands of people in the streets of Jamaica as a living deity, a thought and belief that Bob Marley himself, more than anyone helped to popularise.

The image, status and more importantly the music of Rastafari through the years has attracted many artists from Mick Jagger to John Lydon but Snoops out all move complete with name change is something else, but where will he take it?…time will tell

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One comment on “Snoop Lion; Gang-banger to Rasta?”

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  1. It will be interesting to hear Snoop’s new tunes.
    Enjoyed the Roots of Rastafari part of the article. Although the Ethiopian guerrillas who swore not to cut their hair until Ethiopia was freed from Italian occupation (1936-41) predates it – I read somewhere that the Rastafarian’s dreadlocks were inspired by those worn by Kenyan freedom fighters (1952-1960).
    Mau Mau (not to be confused with the Sheffield punk band of the same name!) fighters like Dedan Kimathi and Waruhiu Itote (General China) hid in the forests of Mount Kenya for months on end and grew “dreadlocks”.
    http://twoday.net/static/sauseschritt/images/kenia.jpg

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