Snoop Leopard and the Zulu Princeby Samora Chapman / 24.05.2013
Disclaimer: This is a story about Snoop Lion. But first… a preamble. Please bear with me!
I met the prince of the Zulu Nation in an Ayurvedic clinic in downtown Durban. I didn’t know who he was at the time of course. We exchanged a couple words through our bug-infested lungs under the watchful eyes of a golden 6-foot Ganesha. “That was horrible,” he said after having his brain doused in black oily liquid concocted by some Indian mystic in the jungles of Goa. Little did I know, I had just met a direct descendent of the great Shaka, fearsome warrior-king of the Zulu Nation.
Fast forward a couple weeks and I’m shmoozing with celebs in the VIP tent at the Snoop Lion gig courtesy of MTV and Mahala dot fucking coza. ‘How the hell did I end up here?’ I’m thinking as I hit up the free drinks and chow like a ravenous ghetto child. Soon I’m charging about with wild abandon like a pretend rock star, hoping my friends don’t unfriend me for bailing on them to exploit my virgin VIP experience.
Some dub-flavoured afro-rap saturated in Americanism is emanating off the main stage. ‘I wonder when Snoop’s coming on?’ I think to myself like an ignoramus. Hey there’s Bob Perfect from DIY, lemme go glean some info off that cat…
Me and Bob get together like whitey conspirators, sticking out like green hats and orange hair. I’m quietly laughing at his Eminem Tee and he’s probably chuckling at me in my Run DMC hoodie. We’re like albino rap groupies crashing a BEE tender party.
Bob fills me in on all the great acts of the night and how epic the press conference was… so I decide to give up on my journalistic endeavours. I need a camera.
The problem is my third eye got confiscated at security, so its time for Plan B. I hijack a camera from a young Media24 journo (thank you Alex) and get busy snapping the celebrities and posers alike.
Next thing I know I spot the cool cat from the Ayurvedic clinic (remember the preamble?) and he tells me he’s the prince of the Zulu nation and now I’m in the middle of the Zulu Royal Family with their leopard skins and Armani suits, waving iPhones and bottles of Jack like assegais in the good ‘ol days.
And the Prince is telling me all sorts of mystic shit about Zulus and heaven, conquering Europeans, love and Mary Jane.
I soon tire of my faux-celeb experience and decide to get back to the real world… the main pit where the masses are shaking their asses in a deliciously ignorant orgy of bling and leopard skins.
It aint nothing but a G thing baby!
Snoop eventually graces the stage at about midnight and drops three or four classics to get the old faithful Dogg fans clutching their dangles with joy… he drops his verse from ‘Still Dre’, then rocks ‘Gin and Juice’ and that Pimpin track with 5 Cents.
Snoop’s also rocking the leopard skin head gear, just like the young prince and the other members of the fam. I wonder if he made a detour into the jungle on his way from Cali to slay one of our last remaining big cats.
It reminds me of that Tim Buckley line: “I just wanted to be a hunter again.” Forget Snoop Lion… more like Snoop Leopard, lost son of the Zulu Nation.
Snoop swerves around the stage like he’s swimming through water. His china eyes smiling like crescent moons. Everyone in the crowd lights up… but the Lion shows a bit of discretion. The MTV peeps must have him on lockdown; especially after last time he was in Poison City… when he stepped on stage and blazed a 6-inch bat of DP One. Snoop and the band were pelted with Mary Jane for the rest of the one-hour show.
Anyway, Snoop quickly shifts gear and starts playing some R and Bizzle with a dancehall twang and three bodacious ladies take the stage to shake their ghetto booties and it’s all rather ridiculous.
My brother passes out from the excitement and we drag his 6’4 frame through the crowd like a battering ram. Fix him up with some liquid and head to Johnny’s to refuel.
And I’m left wondering about Snoop re-incarnate. In Rastafari, “The Lion of Judah” represents Emperor Haile Selassie I, Jesus re-incarnate, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Now Snoop’s taken on that crown, after a spiritual metamorphosis in Bob Marley’s humble abode, in the heart of Jamaica.
Snoop was a great emcee, a sharp lyricist with one of the most unique voices to come out of the 90s. Although he was completely misogynist, homophobic, drug and gun toting… that’s gangster rap for you. It was a revolutionary time and he was a part of a movement to shake up the establishment.
Now we have Snoop Lion the Rastafari, reggae star. And the question that begs to be asked is: would anybody be listening to his reggae if it weren’t for Doggystyle, his Dre collabos and his umpteen rap studio albums? Probably not.
I love reggae… Bob Marley is one of the greatest revolutionaries of our time. But Snoop can’t sing, he’s lost the energy to write new lyrics and his reggae/dance-hall R&B ish is about as deep as a puddle in the ghetto. But the old Dogg is now preaching positivity and Jah love instead of fuelling the East Coast/West Coast feud and killing cops. So I guess that’s cool. Even if his identity is more screwed up than a Zulu Warrior, wearing Armani, rolling down the street in a Rikshaw, sipping on Gin and Juice.
*All images © Samora Chapman