Rejjie Snow is not your quintessential rapper. Hailing from Dublin, an area hardly synonymous with hip-hop, and already one of Ireland’s most successful exports, Snow is an anomaly who is both refreshing and intriguing. Dear Annie has finally been released into a world that has been craving more from the rapper, with Snow having teased his debut album for years while his career generated a modest buzz with several accomplished mixtapes. Preceded by a pair of corresponding EPs, the ambitious album has a sprawling track-list of 20 songs that travel between numerous musical styles and influences. Dear Annie moves fluidly between jazz, soul, funk, hip-hop and RnB and this eclectic mix is only to be expected from the guy who has supported both Kendrick Lamar and Madonna.
Romance is the theme of Snow’s debut as he embarks on a complex journey through the highs and lows of love. Giving the well-worn topic a fresh twist with his lyrical dexterity, the emotional complexity of Dear Annie matches its genre-bending ambition. Snow, who now resides in Brooklyn and belongs to stateside label 300 Entertainment, has adopted a smooth American croon. However, his Irish accent shines through on a series of intermissions where a late-night radio host invites Snow to discuss the stories behind his sound. Sensual slow-jams ‘Mon Amour’ and ‘Desole’ see Snow rapping in French while ‘Spaceships,’ ‘Charlie Brown’ and single ‘Egyptian Luvr’ are funky feel-good hits. The album includes collaborations with strong female voices including Anna of the North, Dana Williams and Caroline Smith.
Dear Annie simultaneously looks forwards and backwards – it is inspired by the funk and soul of the past while challenging what it means to drop a debut hip-hop album today. It may be early in 2018 but Snow’s album promises to be one of the most innovative and defining records of the year.