By Ray Rahman
March 15, 2013 at 02:39 PM EDT
C Flanigan/Getty Images


  • Music

Snoop Lion’s much-publicized Jamaican-journey documentary Reincarnated officially hits theaters today, giving curious fans a look into the how the gin-sipping rapper once known as Snoop Dogg (and Snoop Doggy Dogg before that) transformed into the reggae-loving Rastafarian he is today.

To mark the movie and the upcoming album of the same name, due April 23, and the 41-year-old celebrated with Lionfest, a Snoop-centric event he debuted at Vice‘s SXSW HQ last night. (Vice is also helping to release the movie and album.)

Donning layered black and grey shirts, sunglasses, and his signature brass-knuckled microphone, the rapper didn’t waste any time spreading the gospel of his new identity. After airing a trailer for the doc, he began his set with “Here Comes the King,” a dub-tinged, Major Lazer-produced cut from Reincarnated. (Major Lazer, by the way, was on-hand at Lionfest all night.) It was a good start, giving Snoop leeway to follow it up with another one of his new reggae numbers, “Lighters Up.”

But the updated Snoop still isn’t above dipping into his back catalog to thrill an audience, so he offered up his O.G. classic “Gin and Juice” — though not without giving it a reggae facelift. Unsurprisingly, the tampered song was still a hit; at this point, that song is bigger than its genre.

In fact, Mr. Lion offered up quite a few standout tracks from his LBC gangsta days, like “Bitch Please” and his Chronic-era Dr. Dre assists “‘Nuthin’ But a G Thang” and “Deep Cover” (even though they all feature the kind of imagery that the reincarnated Snoop says he’d like to avoid now that he’s had a spiritual awakening.)

He even performed “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” during the show — a funny choice, considering that he kept the original chorus intact. But, hey, classics are classics. Or maybe the fact that Beats By Dr. Dre had its own Pill speaker-hawking shop set up in the corner of the venue made him nostalgic?

He dipped into some of his more recent hits, too, like a stellar remixed version “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Snoop didn’t limit himself to his own catalog, though. He covered the likes of House of Pain’s “Jump,” Naughty By Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray,” and Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” though only barely. Actually, it’d probably be more accurate to say he listened to the song… at us? You can watch a video of it below to see for yourself.

Oh, he also performed “Let’s Get High,” “Young, Wild & Free,” “No Guns Allowed,” and the Akon collab “I Wanna Love You.” And “So Long.” And “La La La.” So if you’re wondering, the answer is yes: it was a really long show. He was on stage for about an hour and a half; most SXSW sets typically hover around the thirty- to forty-minute mark.

Get a small taste of last night’s show by watching clips of his Joan Jett and Cypress Hill renditions below:

What do you guys think of Snoop’s new identity? Are you touched by his spiritual awakening? Or by his Joan Jett cover-thing? Let us know in the comments!

Follow @RayRahman

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