Album Review: Snoop Lion, ‘Reincarnated’

bill bodkin gets all sorts of irie …

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Sometimes experimentation is a wonderful thing … then again sometimes it’s a terrible thing.

When Bob Dylan famously plugged in an electric guitar — he was initially booed offstage, but it didn’t take long for the entire musical world to embrace his experiment. Where would we be today if Bob hadn’t plugged that guitar in?

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Then there’s the polar opposite — like when famed pop/country singer Pat Boone “went metal” with the album In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy. For those of who remember, the image of Boone donned from head to toe in leather and singing Sabbath is forever burned into our memories.

Then there’s the middle ground and that’s where Snoop Lion’s new record Reincarnated comes in.

It falls in to that middle ground of musical experimentation — it’s solid, but completely unmemorable. It’s not a colossally foolish venture that Snoop (Dogg) Lion has undertaken, nor is it a resounding success — it’s just kinda there.

While some may have scoffed at Snoop’s transformation from LBC gangster rapper to a super irie Jah-lovin’ reggae riddim-meister, the transition was quite natural. Snoop’s smoother than silk, richer than velvet flow translates perfectly into the world of reggae.

To make his transition to this new musical world even smoother, he recruited Major Lazer, the DJ and production unit fronted by EDM maestro Diplo. Lazer, who just released their new album Free the Universe last week, is renowned for creating thick, hazy, sultry reggae beats and riddims as well as fat EDM and big bass beats. The production on the record is top notch and has all the earmarks of a classic reggae record.

However in the end, it just doesn’t work as well it should.

Snoop’s vocals are just way too laid back and they remain this way for the entire record. It never seems to change, it’s just the same flow, the passion, the same inflections throughout the entire record. And this laid back style comes into clash with Major Lazer’s thick wall of production. The production at times drowns out and even overshadows Snoop’s vocals. It’s literally the passive meeting the aggressive.

The guest vocals on the album are also pretty lackluster. No real, mainstream reggae acts are brought in to bolster the record. One would’ve hoped at least one Marley brother would’ve been included on the album but instead we’re treated to unmemorable cameos from Chris Brown, Drake … and Miley Cyrus. Seriously, Miley Cyrus.

Yet, to be fair, for all its weaknesses, Snoop Lion’s Reincarnated is still a solid record. Despite the clash in styles from Snoop and Lazer, the talent of both artists is there and it’s completely undeniable. It’s just disappointing because it could’ve been that much better.

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Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites