By Rob Markman
Fans are still grasping with Snoop Dogg's decision to morph into the reggae artist named Snoop Lion, but the changed didn't come out of the blue.
Before the Doggfather was able to properly transform into Snoop Lion and record his upcoming reggae album, Reincarnated,the 20-year rap veteran had to first get the right inspiration.
"We was looking for the creators, some of the forefathers," Snoop told MTV News on Monday.
At the top of the list was reggae's greatest voice. "Most definitely Bob Marley, off the top, and the Wailers," he said. "Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Gregory Isaacs, Jimmy Cliff, Barres [Hammond], most definitely."
To record Reincarnated, Snoop first got a blessing from Bob Marley's son Rohan and then made a pilgrimage to Jamaica, where he formed a bond with the Niyabinghi branch of the Rastafari movement. Musically, the newly crowned Lion partnered with Diplo and Major Lazer to help with the production but kept the features to a minimum.
During a press conference Monday, Snoop excitedly explained his mission. "The spirit called me. Any time the spirit calls you, you gotta know it's serious and real," he said to a room of gathered press. "I wanna bury Snoop Dogg and become Snoop Lion."
With his transformation, the Los Angeles rap icon hopes to leave his old ways behind. Gone are songs like "Murder Was the Case"; instead, Snoop is now preaching positivity on new songs like "No Guns Allowed" and "La La La." "I always wanted to make a song that could stand for something," Snoop said.
It seems that reggae music has given the global superstar the perfect outlet. "My early memories of reggae music was always a room full of smoke and just the way you danced to it. It was seductive and sexy and it was grown, then underneath it all, it had a message to it," he said. "You can hear the message in some of the songs. You can hear the positivity and the strength and the struggle."