Rapper Snoop Dogg, who has carved out a huge career since his entrance onto the hip-hop scene in the early 90s, has been reborn. According to the artist he has been reborn now, and renamed by a Rastafarian priest as Snoop Lion. Snoop, whose transformation is being documented in a film called Reincarnation that is coming out this fall, is in the process of recording his first reggae album.
Snoop says that he has indeed been reborn and that this is a turning point for his musical career. He is ready to make a new kind of music. Evidently this not only means a switch to a different style – reggae – but also a different message. He wants to start making music that his kids can listen to. He feels like he has something new to offer the world.
A celebrity undergoing a brand relabeling with a name change, genre change, and career change is nothing new. Maybe you have heard of P.Diddy, Diddy, Puffy and Puff Daddy, they are all the same dude. Sometimes musicians and artists simply evolve. Bob Dylan was the golden boy of folk until he started turning up his amp and producing some rockier sounds with even more mumbling. Neil Young (of whom I am a ridiculous fan – really it is almost irrational) has been through more changes than any artist I know. He simply lives in a multitude of worlds, from folk, to being the godfather of grunge, to some country, to even a bizarre rockabilly album he made to anger his record company.
So what do we make of Snoop Lion’s rebirth? Well it is pretty normal for the human condition. There are moments in our life that sneak in and change us. Sometimes they are from outside of us – a job loss, the death of a friend, a tragedy we go through, etc.. Sometimes they are from inside of us, a moment of pain, recognition or peculiar insight. These moments, when we pay attention to them can lead to radical rebirth. But rebirth takes more than a name change, a different job, and a trip to Jamaica. Rebirth only really happens through an inside out transformation.
As Christians we understand that it is only when what is inside of us is changed that the changes on the outside matter at all. Often we see people go through a mid life crises and they change their style, change their behavior, and buy some new toys. We see people go through radical weight loss and get in shape to change who they are. We see rappers change the animal part of their names. All of these changes are born out of a hunger to reshape our identity. We want to be someone different. We want to be seen as someone different.
That is the rebirth that God offers us through Jesus. It is a rebirth into a new identity. The old is gone the new has come and we reshaped into the image of Jesus himself. So long as we understand and embrace that identity, we will never need another rebirth. We will never hunger to change our names or change our style to feel better about ourselves. So long as we understand our identity as the children of God, loved, embraced, forgiven, and redeemed by our creator we will always know who we are.
Snoop created an identity for himself centered around the gangster loves of alcohol, weed, sex, money and violence. Ultimately those things did not fulfill him the way he desired. So now he is trying on a new identity to see if trying to bring light into the world via reggae music will bring more fulfillment. Where are you searching for fulfillment? What is shaping your identity? Have you been reborn?