Artist Feature: Rejjie Snow
Rejjie Snow makes relaxing music, but is exciting enough that he should not be ignored.
Although now the musical zeitgeist, certain common themes in hip-hop have pervaded the genre to the point of monotony. Triplet rhyming, heavy bass and the dreaded mumble rap are undoubtedly core elements of the most recent evolution of the genre, and while rejecting these innovations is to do a disservice to the style of music, a breath of fresh air could certainly do some good.
Enter the stage Alexander Anyaegbunam, better known as Rejjie Snow – an up and coming Irish rapper from Dublin. Rejjie compounds his unique background with an expertly applied passion for old-school hip-hop, jazzy backdrops and smooth vocals, all of which culminate in an ability to make almost mesmerising pieces of work. And although this style of hip-hop is present in almost all of his songs, at no point does it become tiresome. Instead, his pinpoint focus on the sound allows him to hone his talent with remarkable speed. After just one EP and a mixtape, Rejjie released Dear Annie, an immediately critically acclaimed album that received a 10/10 from NME. For those yearning for something different in hip-hop, Rejjie is a must listen.
Rejjie’s strength isn’t only in his influencing genres. Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly popularised funk and jazz instrumentation back in 2015, while Childish Gambino’s Awaken My Love beautifully reintroduced psychedelic funk and soul back into the mainstream. While Rejjie’s choice of instrumentation is innovative, it’s but one element that coalesce to produce his iconic sound. Alongside his sound and smooth vocals, Rejjie is capable of evoking emotions and thoughts to a degree that is rare.
This may come as a surprise to an initial listener. In his first EP, Rejovich, Snow uses a child-like drawing of a blind black man with a member of the KKK. In his debut album, featured artist Anna of the North sings about bringing heroin to school in an oddly innocent tone. This might fool you into thinking that Rejjie is simply making use of crass lyrics and offensive imagery for shock value, as one might say we’re all too desensitised to. The imagery in music videos for songs like 'Charlie Brown’ are equally shocking in their sheer oddity – if nothing else, his use of psychedelic lenses, combined with unpredictable colouring and storylines can leave you in a state of bewilderment.
Alongside his sound and smooth vocals, Rejjie is capable of evoking emotions and thoughts to a degree that is rare.
There are definitely strong reasons, however, to believe that Rejjie is using these tools in a far more intelligent manner. His company of associated acts include the likes of Joey Bada$$, a conscious boom-bap artist from Brooklyn, and Loyle Carner, a similarly up-and-coming artist from South London. Rejjie’s own musical repertoire is wide and imaginative, ranging from the quirky style of N.E.R.D to the bangers of Whitney Houston. This certainly shows through his musical style which, although distinctly hip hop, combines so many other styles that it truly become Rejjie’s own unique style of deliverance and melody.
His music isn’t extraordinary in terms of its political or social message – if you want consciousness in hip-hop, you are best gravitating to Kendrick or J. Cole. Rather, his music is very emotionally mature. It’s rare that music can be life-affirming, melancholy, childish, crass and romantic all in one, and yet somehow, Rejjie manages it in Dear Annie. The influence from groups such as N.E.R.D. and individuals like Tyler, the Creator is certainly obvious and acknowledged by Rejjie himself who said he was gravitated to the “weirdness” of such sounds. The eccentricity has certainly rubbed off on Rejjie with his goofy attire and, as already stated (though it deserves to be reiterated), his utterly bizarre music videos.
Rejjie is still in the formative part of his career. He's only now beginning to penetrate the mainstream. His signing to 300 Entertainment and his moving to New York have certainly made the chance of a new Rejjie Snow album drop in the near future a likelihood, and it will be interesting to see what direction he goes in. As may be clear, I think his jazz style is something that deserves to stay, and could help open up a new style of hip hop in the market, but at the same time it would be great to see if Rejjie can change his own style up and offer us something new. His debut album is already a great honing of the abilities he showed off in Rejovich and The Moon & You, but a deviation in his next project would certainly not be unwelcome; one could still rely on Rejjie to inject a stream of oddity and emotion that will help him to make any project his own.
Those curious for an old-but-new sound and a nice bit of hipster-esque oddity need to look at Rejjie Snow – you certainly won’t be disappointed.