The biggest question surrounding this year’s Soundset festival isn’t what the weather will be like (after a severe storm last year) or whether P.O.S. is up to the task (after a half-year medical hiatus). Instead, people want to know which Snoop is going to show up.
The most famous rapper to perform in the hip-hop fest’s six-year history, Snoop has been all over the news and late-night TV following his conversion to Rastafarianism and his name-change to Snoop Lion. Last month, the 41-year-old rap icon released a deeply inspired if not strongly executed reggae album, “Reincarnated,” alongside a documentary about his life-altering trip to Jamaica. It’s not as if the dude needed an excuse to smoke marijuana.
While Snoop’s Rasta convictions seem to run more than bong deep, Soundset organizers seem equally sure he will perform as Snoop Dogg on Sunday, not Snoop Lion — meaning Twin Cities fans can expect his old rap hits instead of the new reggae joints. Whatever happens, chalk up this latest makeover as another face on hip-hop’s greatest doppelgänger. Here’s a look at his many incarnations:
Rasta: “I always felt like I was connected to” it, Snoop told Rolling Stone, going on to say, “I feel like I’m Bob Marley reincarnated.” Marley’s former bandmate Bunny Wailer, however, called it “outright fraudulent use” of Rasta culture. To which Snoop made the less-than-Rasta-like response, “You wasn’t [expletive] in the Wailers.” Yah, mon!
Pimp: That same Rolling Stone profile revealed that Snoop fulfilled a longtime goal of becoming a pimp — hey, a boy can dream! — on a 2003 tour in which his traveling entourage included 10 high-dollar prostitutes. Pro athletes and other hip-hop stars were reportedly among his clients. To which single men everywhere are wondering: If sports stars and rappers have to pay, is anyone still getting it for free?
Marijuana activist: By word and deed, Snoop has long championed the legalization of marijuana. Among his latest bit of stumping was a performance in Denver celebrating Colorado’s permissive new law on April 20, aka the smoker’s holiday 4/20, where for once he passed out joints to the crowd instead of the other way around.
Actor: We use the word “actor” loosely, since he essentially portrayed himself in such movies as “Soul Plane” and “The Wash.” He did show a serious side in “Training Day,” though. And remember his portrayal of Huggy Bear in “Starsky & Hutch”? Besides all those 4/20 celebrators — and critics who trashed the movie — who could forget it?
Filmmaker: “Film” even more loosely applies here. In the early 2000s, he directed two porn movies with Hustler, “Snoop Dogg’s Hustlaz: Diary of a Pimp” and “Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle,” which was that year’s top-selling adult DVD. His production company, Snoopadelic Films, also dropped 2005’s non-skin flick “Boss’n Up,” starring Lil Jon and Snoop; DVDs of that one are harder to find than the pornos.
Linguist: For shizzle, we can’t forget his contributions to modern English as the purveyor of “izzle speak.” MTV declared him the “slanguistic sensei” of the hip-hop generation. Said/warned the New York Times, “No word is sacred when it comes to izzle.”
Youth football coach: As much as the media has tried, this one’s no joke. Having spent much of the past decade coaching his two sons’ teams, he founded the Snoop Dogg Youth Football League, which has been credited with turning around the fortunes of several inner-city Los Angeles high schools. Among his star players is his second son, Cordell Broadus, a high school junior who has received scholarship offers from USC and UCLA. Wait, aren’t those party schools?
Rapper: Oh yeah, there’s that, too. It’s easy to forget just how instantaneous and exciting Snoop’s career seemed when he first rapped his way into every hip-hop fan’s collection via Dr. Dre’s seminal 1992 album “The Chronic,” followed by his solo debut “Doggystyle.” He has fared better than most rappers at maintaining his cool, with such hits over the past decade as “Wet,” “I Wanna Rock” and “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” His last local shows, at the Cabooze in 2011, also served as a reminder that he’s still one of the genre’s most compelling performers — at least when he’s not busy picking up joints and girls on stage.