Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
After announcing he would become a Rastafarian and making a soul-searching voyage to Jamaica, where he was welcomed by some members of the Rastafarian community, Snoop Lion, now called Snoopzilla, has seen his efforts at dabbling in Jamaican music rewarded by The Recording Academy as he was recently nominated for the Best Reggae Album award at next year's Grammys.
Snoop Lion's nomination comes in the wake of the success of his Diplo-produced reggae album, Reincarnated, which was released in April of this year.
The album features reggae/dancehall artistes Popcaan, Collie Budz, Mr Vegas, and Mavado, as well as internationally acclaimed artistes like Drake, Chris Brown, Busta Rhymes, Akon, Rita Ora, and Miley Cyrus.
Reincarnated debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard 200 chart and was the best-selling reggae album in the United States for 2013, with over 21,000 copies sold in its first week, and to date, has sold well over 50,000 copies in the US.
Iconic reggae artiste Bunny Wailer was one of the Jamaican artistes who welcomed Snoop Lion to the music industry earlier this year and was featured in Snoop Lion's documentary, also titled Reincarnated.
However, the two artistes later ended their friendship following Bunny Wailer's disparaging comments about the rapper-turned-reggae artiste.
Wailer alleged that the rapper was not sincere in his conversion
to the Rastafarian movement.
Dancehall artiste Lady Saw, who stands as the only female dancehall artiste to have received a Grammy nod courtesy of her collaboration with No Doubt for the single Underneath It All, was also critical of Snoop Lion's reggae campaign.
She told The Gleaner the rapper should stick to rap and hip hop.
"Snoop, mi like yuh as a rapper, but low dancehall ting, low reggae ting ... mi no like yuh as no Snoop Lion. Weh yuh get lion from? Not your business. Leave it alone!" she told The Gleaner in August.
However, with his Grammy nomination, some reggae/dancehall artistes feel Snoop Lion is deserving because he has contributed to the music industry in a unique way.
According to legendary dancehall artiste U-Roy, he hopes Snoop Lion wasn't nominated only because he is American; nevertheless, his nomination is a positive thing.
"We have a lot of talented reggae artistes here, but I don't have any negative or bad vibes about Snoop Lion's nomination because if you find that an American is doing reggae music, that has to be a good sign. We should be proud of that," the artiste said.
Gospel singjay Omari also supports Snoop Lion's nomination. He says Snoop used his shock value to expose reggae music to a new market, given that reggae isn't one of the more popular genres in the United States.
"I don't see a problem with his nomination. If him duh a reggae album, then he can be nominated for a reggae album. I think it can help the music to grow, too, because reggae is still not the biggest in several parts of the US. We are doing extremely well in Europe, but Snoop can open doors in the pop markets in the US. If an international artiste feels like he wants to produce a reggae album, he should be able to. It's up to us to capitalise on the doors that Snoop Lion opened so that we can compete," Omari said.
Dancehall duo Twin of Twins shared a similar perspective. They believe reggae should fix itself instead of pointing fingers at outsiders who are in love with the Jamaican product.
"We feel like it's a great look for reggae and it will open more doors. The only sad thing is that we, the originators, are not growing past the influence of people like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and such. We are not getting that growth internally because we lack unity and many of our reggae artistes are not doing music for the love of it. The spiritual aspect of it is largely missing. Chronixx is doing a good job at it, but we would love to see some more reggae artistes adding the spiritual element to their music because it can't work without Rastafari," Patrick Gaynor from Twin of Twins told The Gleaner.
Also receiving his first Grammy nomination is Sizzla Kalonji for his album The Messiah.
The list of nominees for the reggae category is rounded off with Beres Hammond, who secures nomination with his One Love, One Life double album; Ziggy Marley for Ziggy Marley in Concert; and Sly and Robbie and the Jam Masters with Reggae Connection.
The 56th Grammy Awards will take place on January 26 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
This marks the 16th occasion that Snoop Lion has received a Grammy nomination in his music career.