It's not uncommon for artists to alter their stylistic trajectory. My mind leaps to:

Rap legend Snoop Dogg recently announced that, during a trip to Jamaica, he plunged head-deep into Rastafarian baptismal waters and underwent a not-so-radical religious conversion! Heretofore he shall be known as "Snoop Lion" and long gone are the days of guns, gin and possibly juice.


Snoop has made it official onstage and in interview, saying he experienced a reawakening at the hands of a Rasta high priest, who prompted the name change by suggesting Snoop "embrace the lion" and -- according to some distorting reporting -- Snoop Lion claims to be a reincarnated Bob Marley.

In tandem with the new AKA and lifestyle change comes a new musical direction. His new album, Reincarnation, marks the end of Snoop Dogg's gangsta rap days and begins Snoop Lion's career as bonafide reggae sensation.

LaToya Jackson doing country (true)

Ice-T; from rap to heavy metal; from songs about cop-killing to playing a cop on TV (true)

• the entire Ween discography (true)

Garth Brooks exploring his inner rocker as Chris Gaines (true)

Sinatra's much-reviled polka album (gotcha!)

And musicians altering their names is just as common:

• Remember when Sean "Puffy" Combs was "Puff Daddy" instead of P. Diddy? (true!) A subtle but meaningful change... but then he changed it again to just "Diddy" (except in the UK where he for legal reasons he retained the P) before circling back to "Puff Daddy"

• Prince Rogers Nelson went by Prince before becoming an unprounceable symbol, later known as the Artist formerly Known as Prince, later "The Artist", in 2000 becoming "Prince" again (true!) Also, he briefly dabbled with the nickname "Assless Pants Guy"

• At some point Pearl Jam started going by Stone Temple Pilots

• Johnny Cougar was the stage name for John Mellencamp before shaking things up; over the years he's gone by John Cougar Mellencamp, John Cougar, John Mellencamp Cougar, John Camper MellenCougar, and Camper Cougar Mellen John (sorta true!)

Noteworthy is that, despite rare exceptions, religious conversion is seldom a basis for stylistic redirection among mainstream artists like Snoop. Honestly, I was initially glib on the whole idea until I gave it thought and decided to ignore cynical media coverage. I respect Snoop's outward expression of a very personal, considered, measured and deliberate change of heart. I applaud Snoop and forgive him for jacking a VCR from the back of my car.

In an attempt to better understand spirituality and stuff I have been auditing an unaccredited online course about world religion. Here are some...

Things I've Learned About Rastafarianism!

• 100% of all Rastafarians worldwide live in Jamaica!

• Jamaica was once a colony of Italy. After gaining independence Catholic Separatists calling themselves Opus-Reggae nailed 420 theses to the door of the Pope's beach house requesting they no longer be called 'Pastafarians'.

• Evangelical Rastafarians ride bicycles around suburban neighborhoods and never bother anyone.

• In true Jamaico-Roman fashion, and in no way similar to the quest for the Dalai Lama, devout Rastafarian Monks began searching for the Dalai Marley shortly after his death in 1981. The Ponchen Marley was tasked with finding the child who carries his spirit, and normally it wouldn't take so long. But they've had some pretty killer weed down in Jamaica these last few decades, and somehow the search for the holy one slipped the Ponchen Marley's mind.