InTheMiddle with Rejjie Snow

Having been on the scene for 5 years now, Irish rapper Rejjie Snow has been a sleeping giant in hip-hop. After the recent release of his seminal album Dear Annie, he is on his way to standing shoulder to shoulder with some of hip-hop’s greatest artists.

Irish hip-hop artist Rejjie Snow has been making waves ever since his debut EP, Rejovich, peaked at number one on iTunes’ hip-hop chart in 2013, beginning his promising musical journey of success. Rejjie Snow has managed to stay quite under the radar, occasionally creeping back into the spotlight with the odd collaboration, single or EP; however, since signing to 300 Entertainment and the releasing his debut album Dear Annie on the 16th of February, he has been receiving positive recognition far and wide in just a matter of weeks.

Listeners may wonder who is this mysterious Annie that the 20-track debut devotes itself to. It’s not as clear-cut as it may first appear to be, and she’s not the woman that most people will envision. “Annie comes from when I was younger. My sister had an Annie doll that was really scary and gave me nightmares. So, yeah, I guess when I was trying to make an album I went back to that idea. I guess Annie represents this character that deals with fear as well as love too. She represents all that kind of emotion I was feeling.”

The album embodies a range of moods and styles, from the bittersweet piano in ‘The Rain’, coupled with confessional bars about Snow’s mental health – “my actions keep on haunting me, my demons are my bitch when I sleep”. Despite the instrumentals diverging in tracks such as ‘Charlie Brown’ and ‘Rainbows’, Snow’s heartbreak still seeps through in his words. Annie was a doll from his childhood that scared him, but he is clearly paralleling these fears with a woman he loved a left in Paris. The result of this is a fall into anguish.

“I’m making music for everybody; I’m not exclusively making it for people from my city.”

Snow’s features have always given his music a more rounded sound, and he collaborates with artists who complement his sultry, soft-voiced bars; LA singer-songwriter and poet Dana Williams appears on three of his tracks. “I always wanted to have female voices on the record just because that’s the sound I like and having a male and female voice come together always sounds the best I feel.  Dana really sounds fluid on the album and her vocals are really fun to work and play with.” Williams’ femininity bends the album in a way that makes listeners aware that Dear Annie is concerned with heartbreak and desolation, and her L.A. accent also gives rise to the American drawl Rejjie has adopted.

Being an Irish rapper, an anomaly in the industry, and tending to be under review because of it, does not phase him all that much, “Yeah obviously it’s something I’m always conscious about but I try not to be or think about it too much. Especially with the music I’m making, I’m making it for everybody; I’m not exclusively making it for people from my city. And of course I’m still a product of the world; I’ve travelled America, and take influences from other places and cultures.” If you were not aware of his background before listening to his music, the Dublin rapper could easily pass off as American. Having recently relocated to Brooklyn and moving away from his hometown to the U.S at 16, it is no wonder his Irish accent has faded into near non-existence.

He has moved from channeling Tyler the Creator in the early days of his career, on tracks such as ‘Pink Beetle’, with a more gritty style of hip-hop to the beginning of establishing his own style. He discussed his main defining differences between his latest tracks and his old: “They’re just more fearless, I feel like you can really get a sense of who I am through my new music for the most part. I just feel like you can see the growth as an artist, and it’s kind of cringey, but it’s all part of the process.” Despite hip-hop progressing in the last decade, with artists such as Drake and Chance the Rapper challenging negative stereotypes by pouring emotion into their words rather than leaving them impenetrable and without sentimentality, Rejjie Snow should be credited on his openness and willingness to show his true feelings and emotions in Dear Annie. On asking him how he prepared to do so, he lends it to isolation. “I work in isolation anyway. I find it hard to make music when I’m not in the mood, so I have to get in the mood to want to talk about that kind of stuff. It’s pretty easy for the most part.”

Snow is about to begin his Dear Annie tour, playing at Leeds University Union on the 26th of April. Expect to see “T-shirts, turtlenecks and lip balm” on the merchandise stall, and a crowd that has long anticipated this moment. Snow has fallen into his own element, vulnerability and confidence coexisting in a showcase of lyrical dexterity and effortless ability.


Zoë Hapeshi