Clash of the lions
BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor — Auto and Entertainment firstname.lastname@example.org
DRESSED in camouflage-patterned army fatigues with black combat boots, legendary musician Bunny Wailer was in a militant mood when he visited the Jamaica Observer's Kingston office last week.
He wanted to set the record straight about his feud with American gangster rapper-turned-reggae artiste Snoop Lion.
Wailer — who is releasing a 50-track commemorative album entitled Reincarnated Souls next month — is fuming that the artiste formerly called Snoop Dogg "illegally" used footage of their meeting in February 2012 as a launching pad for his film Reincarnated which was released in the United States last Friday.
Wailer is a founding member of the Wailing Wailers which included Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.
The Blackheart Man singer explained that his requests were set out in a contract, which the artiste signed, in addition to a subsequent letter.
Wailer said the 41-year-old Snoop Lion, whose real name is Calvin Broadus Jr, breached their contractual arrangement when footage of their meeting was released.
According to Wailer, the get-together "should not have been filmed" and anything done would be the "private property" of both artistes.
Wailer and Snoop Lion have recently been embroiled in a war of words. The American publication, The Huffington Post, last week reported that Wailer "is the most notable sceptic" of Snoop Lion's conversion.
In response, Snoop was quoted: "'If I was Snoop Dog: (Expletive) Bunny Wailer. But I'm Snoop Lion right now, so I'm chilling.'"
"I don't mix up in any slimy argument," Wailer told the Observer. "All I did was to call him a lion."
He explained how Snoop's new moniker came about.
"We in Jamaica nuh glad fi call nobody dog. Although he had this name and was internationally known as a dog, I could not relate to him as dog. So I related to him as a lion. And, I'm still going to be relating to him as a lion," Wailer said. "I didn't know he was in motion of getting involved in reggae music and in the Rastafarian faith. So when I called him a lion, it added to his aim and objective of being a Rastafarian."
He said he made several calls to the artiste and they have all gone unanswered.
"When I called Snoop a lion, I left it at that. I did not go to say to Snoop, 'now you are called a lion I want some money'," said Wailer, who turns 66 in April. "If he's involved in the Rastafarian faith, he must make contributions to the development of the faith."
The hierarchy of the Rastafarian Millennium Council also has a bone to pick with Snoop.
"We signed an agreement in February, 2012," said Robert 'Prophet Greg' Mogg, general secretary of the Ethio-Africa Diaspora Union Millennium Council, often referred to as the Rastafarian Millennium Council.
The council, formed in 2007, unites the various Rasta mansions and protects its intellectual property.
Mogg said in addition to a film, Snoop expressed a desire to embrace the faith and met with members of the Nyahbinghi House in Scots Pass, Clarendon.
According to the contract, the film was not to be released without Nyahbinghi's approval.
"The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September last year. He has now gone into merchandising... another breach," Mogg said.
He added that a seven-page letter was sent to Snoop on March 1. This went unanswered.
"This is a violation of our intellectual property and we have to safeguard our culture," he added.
Mogg said Snoop had sent a small minibus as a gift to Nyahbinghi House but that was not part of their contractual arrangement.
Wailer stridently defends the faith he accepted 40 years ago.
"The Rastafarian doctrine is not something that someone can act, pretend or seem to be. It is one that exists through His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I and who Rastas see as the substance of their existence... It's not something you can play with."