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Taking Names: Snoop Dogg becomes Snoop Lion, readies reggae CD

- - Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Snoop Dogg wants you to know that he's tired of hip-hop, is Bob Marley reincarnated and is embracing reggae instead of the culture of guns he once rapped about.

Also, he's got a new name: Snoop Lion.

The artist said at a news conference Monday in New York that he was "born again" during a visit to Jamaica in February and is ready to make music that his "kids and grandparents can listen to."

The former gangster rapper is releasing a reggae album called "Reincarnated" in the fall. He said that in Jamaica, he connected with Bob Marley's spirit and is now "Bob Marley reincarnated."

Bob Marley's son Rohan attended the conference and gave Snoop his blessing.

"I feel like I've always been Rastafarian," Snoop said of the spiritual Jamaican movement. While there, he said, he visited a temple, was renamed Snoop Lion and was also given the Ethiopian name Berhane, meaning "light of the world."

Snoop didn't explain why he was switching from "Dogg" to "Lion," but it's likely a reference to the Lion of Judah, a religious symbol popular in Rastafarian and Ethiopian culture.

Later, he played five songs for a small crowd, including one called "No Guns Allowed." It features his daughter and includes the lyrics, "No guns allowed in here tonight, we're going to have a free for all, no fights."

"It's so tragic that people are doing stupid things with guns," he said.

Snoop, best known for hits like "Gin and Juice" and "Drop It Like It's Hot," is an avid supporter of marijuana rights and has been banned from entering Norway for two years after trying to enter the country with a small amount last month.

He said that in Jamaica, where he stayed for 35 days, he grew closer to his wife, who saw his transition. He added that he's excited to perform music that his family and children can listen to.

"As a 40-year-old man ... I've got to give them something," he said. "That's what you do when you're wise."

Snoop Dogg said he's not completely retiring from hip-hop but is "tired" of the genre because it is no longer challenging.

"Reggae was calling ... it's a breath of fresh air," he said. "Rap isn't challenging; it's not appealing."

The album was produced by Diplo and will feature Snoop singing. It will be released on Vice Records.

Reports: Taylor Swift dating a Kennedy teenager

Country pop star and self-described Kennedy fan Taylor Swift is dating a member of the American political dynasty who is four years her junior, two newspapers said Tuesday.

The New York Post ran photographs showing Miss Swift, 22, and Conor Kennedy, who turned 18 last week, holding hands and looking very much like a couple at the Kennedy family compound in Cape Cod, Mass., over the weekend.

The Boston Herald punned that the six-time Grammy winner had "Swiftly taken up" with the teenager, and that she had been seen at a number of locations with Kennedy family members, including church on Sunday.

It recalled that Miss Swift and Mr. Kennedy were also photographed exiting a pizzeria outside New York last week hours after Mr. Kennedy applied to a court to oversee the estate of his mother Mary, who committed suicide in May at the age of 52.

Miss Swift, whose fourth studio album is due out in October, spoke of her fascination with the Kennedys in an interview in Vogue magazine in February in which she also declared she would never keep her love life under wraps.

Cuba Gooding Jr. sought on warrant in New Orleans

New Orleans police say an arrest warrant has been issued for actor Cuba Gooding Jr. after an incident at a Bourbon Street bar.

Police said in a news release that a bartender told officers that Mr. Gooding was there at 3 a.m. Tuesday when he became upset with other patrons who started asking him to take photographs with them.

The bartender told officers that Mr. Gooding pushed her after she asked him to calm down, and again after she told him he needed to leave and police had been called.

Mr. Gooding left the bar before police arrived. Police issued an arrest warrant for municipal battery, a misdemeanor.

Mr. Gooding's publicist declined comment. The actor is in New Orleans filming "The Butler," a movie about a White House butler who serves eight American presidents.

Rowling webcast will promote new Potter kids club

J.K. Rowling's next book is for adults, but she will be on hand this fall to help promote a new club for kids, the Harry Potter Reading Club.

Scholastic Inc. announced Tuesday that Ms. Rowling will participate in a live webcast at noon on Oct. 11 from her hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland, taking pre-submitted questions from her young fans. The discussion will take place on scholastic.com/hpreadingclub, the website for an online Potter club launched Tuesday by Scholastic.

The club is designed for schools and libraries and parents. It will include discussion guides, a glossary, interactive features and information on community events. Ms. Rowling will contribute original commentary. She has a novel for grown-ups out in September called "The Casual Vacancy."

• Compiled from wire reports.