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Snoop Lion roars into TIFF

Snoop Dogg’s transformation into Snoop Lion is the subject of Andy Capper’s new documentary Reincarnated, which premiered last night in Toronto.

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Directed by Vice global editor Andy Capper, Reincarnated follows Snoop Dogg in his journey of spiritual awakening during a trip to Jamaica while recording a reggae album with producer Diplo. In a perpetual cloud of smoke, Snoop explores the Rastafari faith and Bunny Wailer dubs him “a lion,” marking a turning point both in his musical career and personal spirituality as he becomes Snoop Lion.

At yesterday’s press conference, Capper, Snoop Lion, Snoop’s manager and producer Ted Chung and Vice producer Suroosh Alvi addressed criticism from the music industry and defended the sincerity of the artist’s transformation as depicted in the film, a collaboration between Vice magazine and Snoopadelic Films. “We wanted to show how un-cynical and natural it was,” said Capper. The director stressed that he wanted to tell Snoop Lion’s journey as a story, instead of simply documenting the production of a record. “I think people had got to a point where they were forgetting what Snoop had been through as an artist and as a person and we wanted to remind them of that stuff,” he said.

Capper discussed some of his biggest challenges in directing Reincarnated, joking about hair-raising drives through the jungle and the “esoteric ways” of Jamaican security. Alvi went into detail with the difficulties of shooting in a conflict zone with The Lion. “There’s Jamaican security, we have our American security, and then you hook-up with Damian Marley and he’s got his scene. Next thing you know you got 16 SUVs cruising through Kingston and that’s not a ‘blending-in’ way to shoot,” he explained.

In order to ensure he had quality material that would make the film more than just a “puff piece” (in more ways than one), Capper said he shot 250 hours of footage while traveling with Snoop Lion. The director talked about how he was able to take risks and try out different ideas thanks to the cooperation from Snoop and the rest of the team. Nicknaming Capper, Snoop said “Lil Head is the kind of guy that wants you to jump on the back of a motorbike and ride down a cliff and hold on for dear life and get a great shot”.

With the camera always rolling, Capper says he was able to tap into a level of emotional rawness that sets Reincarnated apart from generic music documentaries. In particular, the film shows Snoop’s struggle with the passing of his close friend Nate Dogg. “That’s the part of the movie that I don’t ever watch because I’m still touched by it,” said Snoop.

Reflecting on his Rastafari education depicted in the film, Snoop explained his desire not to steal from Jamaican culture, but to be a part of it, and eventually give back to the community. With his manager and producer Ted Chung, he plugged his newly established Mind Gardens program, which helps plant self-sustainable gardens in Kingston.

Snoop also reassured everyone that Reincarnated does not signal the end of Snoop Dogg, saying he will continue to perform his old hits: “I’m still Snoop mother-f—-ing Dogg until I die. But at the end of the day when I’m making my reggae music I’m in the light of Snoop Lion, so you have to respect both worlds”.

“This is just another page in my book, so please enjoy”, he said.

After its premiere last night, Reincarnated will also be screened today and on Sept 18.

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