From Dogg to Lion: Rastas divided over rapper's conversion

Bunny Wailer accuses Snoop Lion of embracing Rastafarianism simply to publicise his new reggae album. Tim Walker reports

Rastafarians are thought of as a peaceful bunch, yet one of the Rastafari movement's newest adherents has caused uncharacteristic discord in its ranks. Bunny Wailer, the sole surviving member of the original Wailers line-up, this week accused the rapper Snoop Lion – previously known as Snoop Dogg – of faking a Rastafari conversion in order to publicise his new reggae album.

Bunny Wailer, who formed the Wailers with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh in 1963, told the website TMZ that Snoop had engaged in "fraudulent use of [the] Rastafari community's symbolism" and that he had failed to honour, "contractual, moral and verbal commitments" he allegedly made to Wailer and his fellow Rastas.

The California rapper, whose real name is Calvin Broadus Jr, is set to release his first reggae LP in February. Reincarnated was recorded in Jamaica last year, and its creation is chronicled in a film of the same name, to be released simultaneously. The documentary shows the star's embrace of Rastafari culture, including a visit to Wailer. It also explains the name Snoop Lion, which he claims was bestowed on him by a Rastafarian priest; the Lion of Judah is an important Rasta symbol, rooted in Ethiopian history.

Wailer was supported in his criticism by the Ethio-Africa Diaspora Union Millennium Council, an umbrella organisation of Rastafarian groups based in Jamaica, which sent a seven-page letter to Snoop, telling him that "smoking weed and loving Bob Marley and reggae music is not what defines the Rastafari indigenous culture", and threatening to sue if he did not issue a public apology and drop the "Lion" suffix from his name.

Certainly, marijuana is the aspect of Rasta culture that features most prominently in the rapper's personal history. Among his many encounters with the US legal system are arrests for possession in 1998, 2001, 2006 and 2012. Last year he was banned from entering Norway for two years, after he arrived with 8g of cannabis.

The rapper unveiled his new stage name at a concert in Canada last summer. That performance included reggae versions of his hits "Gin & Juice" and "Drop it Like it's Hot", as well as Bob Marley covers.

Marley's son, however, has come to Snoop's defence, suggesting that his father, who died in 1981, would have endorsed his conversion. "Our father, like a true Rasta, would have embraced Snoop's reincarnation and welcomed the positivity," Rohan Marley told TMZ. Mr Marley, 40, is the co-founder of Marley Coffee, and of the House of Marley range of eco-friendly headphones. "Why condemn a man for his love of Rastafari and Bob Marley?" he said.

According to Eli Roth, the director who shot the video for "La La La", the performer's first single as Snoop Lion, the metamorphosis is heartfelt. "Snoop is for real," Roth said. "He really felt he was the continuing spirit, the reincarnation of Bob Marley … He's a platinum-selling rapper. Why would he do it for money?"

In 2012, Snoop told Billboard magazine he had made the Reincarnated film to explain his transformation from rapper to reggae artist. "I allow you to go on the journey with me."

He went on: "People appreciate my voice, no matter what it's doing. If it's singing, rapping, talking, they appreciate the time that I put into giving them something creative from me. That's why the transformation into reggae fits … because to me reggae is about love and peace and unity."

Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape