In early 2012, Snoop Dogg took a three-week trip to Jamaica in order to make new music and explore a country and culture that had long fascinated him. The fruits of that trip included a Rastafarian purification ceremony at a Nyabinghi temple, a name change to Snoop Lion, a reggae-inspired album called Reincarnated (out yesterday) and a promotional documentary of the same name. During the film, Snoop smokes a chalice with Bob Marley's old bandmate, Bunny Wailer, and invites him to sing on the new album – Wailer assents, but only after expressing his hope that Snoop's adoption of the Rastafarian movement will not be "commercialized." (As it happens, the Reincarnated film features abundant product placement for Adidas, which sponsors Snoop and which kicked in money for the budget, according to a member of Snoop's management team.)
Recently, however, Wailer came out against Snoop in a TMZ interview, decrying the Long Beach, California MC's "outright fraudulent use of the Rastafari community's personalities and symbolism" and his failure to meet "contractual, moral and verbal commitments." Wailer's contribution to the album was ultimately cut. Last week, Rolling Stone met with Snoop Lion in Los Angeles for an upcoming profile. During the discussion, he elaborated on his side of the fallout with Wailer.
In the film, you and Bunny Wailer seem to get along well. Why has there been this dispute?
I couldn't tell you. To me, it's a miscommunication, and I'm not gonna speak nothing negative because I love him too much. Any relationship, you gotta be able to disagree. The last time I seen him, it was all love, but when I heard the negative remarks, I paid no attention. If I'm gonna be Rasta incorporated, loving energy is the only way I can match his negative energy.
Would it be meaningful for you to have a conversation directly with him?
I mean, it would be meaningful for him to talk to me. He's the one supposedly putting out the negative energy. I coulda said, "Fuck that n***a. Bitch-ass n***a." I'm still a gangsta – don't get it fucked up. I'm growing to a man, so as a man, do I wanna revert back to my old ways and fuck this n***a up, or move forward, shine with the light? It's nothing. I've been hit before.
One of the things he accuses you of is not honoring contractual commitments. What's he referring to?
It can't be nothing because he's not on my record. What could it be? To me, a lot of these guys from back in the days have been done wrong, and they think younger artists owe them, because we've been paid and treated right. It's not my fault if you haven't been paid. I just met you. I've done nothing but put you in a place where the world knows who you are. They heard who you are, now they know who you are. I've given you a platform to speak and make money. My conversation with Bunny was about how he was done, not how I'm gonna do him. I can't fix what people have done with you in the past, but I'm gonna put you in the movie – he signed off on it – put you on the album. It was too much negative energy so I said I don't even want him on the record.
By negative energy, do you mean his public statements or something else?
He's speaking and the album isn't out. That gave me fair warning to get this motherfucker off my shit. I have no insight what turned him. The people I visited at the Nyabinghi Temple aren't speaking negative on me. They're real Rastas. I went in there and filmed them, showed their whole get-down. Nobody did that before. If anyone, they should have complained – "He exploited us!" Why aren't they saying that? To me, they have the most gripe to make. How did I exploit Bunny? I gave you a chance to be in my movie. My movie gonna be the shit with or without you. I'm gonna be the shit with or without you. I'm Snoop Dogg. Relevant right now.
It's like, people take my kindness for weakness. In the Nineties, he could have never tried that because I'd have slapped the dog shit out of his old ass. How dare you? After all I've done for you? How dare you? You wasn't the shit in the Wailers. You was just one of them: Bob, Peter Tosh, then you. They dead mean more than you do alive. You get the energy? When it should have been, 'Hey, this brother is putting me back in the light; I could possibly get on the road with him, be on his album, eat again. Let me get in line. This is Snoop Dogg; he's already a star.' It should have been, play along with me as opposed to stick me up. I'm gonna give you what you worth, but you not gonna stick me up.
So he wanted more money to be on the album than you were willing to pay?
The reason for him not being on the album is I started hearing negative energy and rather than have him be a part of it, I kept him in the movie to show his positivity against his negativity. Here this comes out of left field to make me go back, be the old ignorant-ass n***a. To me, it's a test, to see if I'm really made for this. Who else would it come from to make this amount of noise? But guess who stood up in my defense? Rohan, Rita, Stephen, Damian Marley. Rohan went public. He called him Phony Wailer, or whatever he called him. I can't call him that; I don't know him like that. But they do. They know what he after and they love me. If Bob's kids and his wife welcome they arms and say, "You one of the Marleys," then who is Bunny Wailer to say anything?
[Tone softening, posture relaxing, dropping into a Jamaican accent] Bunny, keep your head up. Jah bless; wisdom, guidance and protection.