JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr.
Snoop Lion, "Reincarnated" (Vice/Mad Decent/RCA Records)
It's not just a name change, but there's a new take on life for Snoop Lion, who switched his stage name from Snoop Dogg after a trip to Jamaica where he embraced Rastafarian culture.
And the new project works.
Snoop's first reggae album, "Reincarnated," includes some fine production by Major Lazer (aka Diplo), with guest appearances from Miley Cyrus, Akon, Rita Ora and Angela Hunte, who co-wrote the Jay-Z hit "Empire State of Mind."
The rapper is still the marijuana-smoking, ultra-smooth Snoop we've all come to know and love. But he's also more focused on love and happiness, and not the gangsta raps he spewed in the past.
He sings against gun violence on "No Guns Allowed," which features rapper Drake and vocals from his daughter Cori B. The track is special because it shows how Snoop has matured as a musician -- and bringing on his 13-year-old daughter only drives home the point. He tackles global warming on "Tired of Running" with Akon, and preaches unity on "Lighters Up," featuring Mavado and Popcaan.
The gem of the album, though, is the dancehall track featuring Cyrus. "Ashtrays and Heartbreaks" is an easygoing track where Cyrus shines alongside Snoop.
While there are some misses -- like "Get Away" and "Fruit Juice" -- most of Snoop's twelfth studio album is an entertaining piece of work.
Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MrLandrum31
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