The Gospel according to Snoop Dogg: The religious tones of a rap icon
The surprise of gospel album is taking time sinking in but many are questioning if Snoop's faith is real because this is not the first time he has embraced religion in his music.
"So what we get drunk? So what we smoke weed? We’re just having fun. We don’t care who sees." But now Snoop Dogg cares and fears the doomsday. From rapping about drugs, sex and pimping with the debut album 'Doggystyle,' the 46-year-old has transitioned to rapping and singing gospel songs. His fans were not only shocked but also impressed, as his 'Bible of Love' topped Billboards Gospel Albums Chart as of March 31, marking Snoop's 25th entry to Billboard 200.
The rapper, whose original name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr, claimed he was born again after the release of the 32-track-album and on Jimmy Kimmel Live on April 9, the rapper shared his newly acquired insights on religion, heaven and devil. Explaining that he created the album solely from his will, he told Jimmy Kimmel, who was as surprised with the album as the rest of us were; “The world that we live in now, with all the negativity and violence, I just wanted to make something that represented peace, love, and happiness.” Snoop shared his vision of heaven and affirmed there would be pot and no diseases. As for the devil reference in his music, he directly stated that devil exists and is in the guise of the "president," an obvious reference to Trump.
The Smoke the Weed singer renewed his beef with Trump a year later after his controversial ‘BADBADNOTGOOD’ video, which depicted Snoop pulling a gun on a man closely resembling Trump. The president took to Twitter to slam Snoop, saying if the video was aimed at former President Obama, the rapper wouldn't have gotten away and would have been serving 'jail time'.
As of now, the surprise of gospel album is just sinking in but many are questioning if Snoop's faith in Christianity is real because this is not the first time he has embraced religion in his music. In 2012, after a trip to Jamaica, he announced his conversion to Rastafarianism, a movement holding that Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was the Messiah and that black people are the chosen people and will eventually return to their African homeland. Along with his conversion, Snoop adopted the moniker ‘Snoop Lion’, and released a reggae album called Reincarnation. A bizarre rumor did the rounds of Snoop calling himself the reincarnation of Bob Marley.
But only a year later, Snoop released his thirteenth studio album and 'Bush' was released in May 2015 and both marked his return to the name Snoop Dogg. The 'Snoop Lion' rested in peace. Given his record on jumping from one religion to another, we do not know how long will his gospel phase last.
In 2008, Snoop Dogg confessed to converting to Mormonism, a predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationist Christianity. During that time Snoop explained his experience with Mormon missionaries; "I was hooked from the start. We talked about the purpose of life, played Mousetrap, and ate brownie."
But this conversion was heavily criticized since Mormonism frowns upon things like “sippin’ on gin and juice” and “smoking chronic,” which is an integral identity of Snoop. Rumors flew about that his adaptation of Mormonism was a ploy to gain the favor of a Utah judge who had charged him with a probation violation.
Again, the one-year itch struck and the critics were deemed true as Snoop converted to Islam after watching a Louis Farrakhan film. In March 2009, the rapper officially confirmed that he is a Muslim at Nation of Islam Saviors’ Day convention in Chicago. The then 37-year-old praised the group's supreme minister and national representative Louis Farrakhan and reportedly made a donation of $1,000 to the group. The Nation of Islam was founded in 1930 with the aim of promoting the conditions of black Americans. The group's most famous convert is activist Malcolm X.
At the convention he said; "I'm an advocate for peace. I've been in the peace movement ever since I've been making music. My whole thing is not about really trying to push my thing on you. It's just about the way I live, and I live how I'm supposed to live as far as doing what's right and representing what's right. That's why I was here today."
But this too turned out to be a stint as he moved to follow Rastafarianism in 2012.
In April 2016, Snoop released a video of himself singing along to Kirk Franklin’s ‘Silver and Gold’, declaring that “he’d rather have Jesus than silver and gold” whilst displaying his plethora of gold jewelry. Then in 2017, he declared he was working on a gospel album since it has always been close to his "heart."
Fast forward to 2018, Snoop tops the chart with his gospel songs with lyrics like "I know God is coming deep, I’m not where I’m supposed to be. Sitting here smoking trees, when I should be on my knees."
With trials and errors of his religious hops and spiritual awakenings, Snoop seems to be following the path he began when he was a child. Referencing his affinity to gospel as the influence of his grandmother, he believed his 'Bible of Love' release was long overdue. The record features collaborations with many gospel legends such as Kim Burrell, The Clark Sisters, as well as contemporary artists Mali Music and B Slade, among others.
But many in the Christiandom did not take the notorious rapper singing gospel seriously, because who would after taking voluntary retirement from different religions? Besides, he has been accused of offering alcohol and marijuana to underage girls and has even bragged about prostituting young women. In the early '90s Snoop was in-and-out of prison for selling cocaine and other drugs and stood trial for the 1993 murder of a rival gang member in which he drove the getaway car but was later acquitted.
But, coming to Snoop's defense on his choice to redeem Christianity was a megachurch pastor, Creflo Dollar, who told his congregation not to throw shade at rapper-turned-gospel performer on April 11. The pastor of World Changers Church International, said the church should focus on grace and not past behavior. He was preaching on the “Spirit of Grace.” The pastor announced; "Someone should have said “Congratulations, thank you so much, thank you so much for releasing something that can minister to people and encourage people and help people.”
Snoop himself clapped back at his skeptics at the 33rd Stellar Gospel Music Awards earlier this month, when after his performance at the oldest televised awards show honoring gospel music artists, he said; "The devil is a liar. I thought church was supposed to welcome sinners."
"That's what's running people away from church right now as we speak: We're trying to get people back in church with a different perspective of come as you are, show love. We show love, we give love," Snoop added. "What about you? Have you checked your status? Are you going to Heaven? Why are you judging me? How much have you done for the Lord?"
As Snoop goes gospel and many are confused if they should take him seriously or doubting if this album is not a gimmick to resurrect his almost-dying career, we know for sure that the spiritual awakening, maybe for the umpteenth time, is at least not turning futile. Just like he said, he always had a gospel in him, we just couldn't see it when he was rapping about 'dirty dancer' and 'sexual eruption'. Maybe we need to be just as spiritually awakened to see it. Amen.