The rapper gives us a dazzling introduction to his debut LP.
(LEFT) Tracksuit LINDER, chains REJJIE’S OWN
(RIGHT) Jumper ALEXANDER WANG, gilet ALYX
With his exceptional debut LP Dear Annie, Dublin-born Rejjie Snow – Alexander Anyaegbunam – has created a sprawling 20-track opus. Written and recorded across LA, London, and Paris, the record is a meditation on the frustrations and joys of love, growth, identity, and maturity; each track introduces us to Snow’s sonic universe through a beautiful blend of biography and fantasy. The album is meant to be experienced like a film, cinematic in scope as it unfolds across an atmospheric soul-jazz groove with inflections of 70s funk and delicate French crooning.
Recording under the moniker Lecs Luther back in 2011, Snow released the track “Dia Dhuit” on YouTube before heading to a prep school in Florida on a football scholarship. The song garnered thousands of views, and after a year and a half of attending the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, he ventured to London where his alter ego Rejjie Snow was birthed with the release of his EP “Rejovich” in 2013. Singles and the experimental mixtape The Moon & You followed in 2017, and now, Dear Annie, the much anticipated full-length LP.
Ireland is known as a land of storytellers, so it’s only fitting that beneath jazzy progressions and smooth transitions, Snow is an experimental wordsmith himself, having read Charles Bukowski, James Joyce, and Richard Aldington growing up. With Dear Annie – where “Annie” is announced as the hero’s siren – Snow pulls us into the depths of his soul, revealing glimpses of those he’s loved, those he’s missed, those who have caused heartbreak, and he does it all with production from Kaytranada, Cam O’bi, Rahki, and Lewis Ofman, while Aminé, Jesse James Solomon, and Anna of the North make appearances within our hero’s sonic odyssey.
Coming at us hard on tracks like “LMFAO” – with its heavy basslines and 80s dance party bounce – elsewhere we slip into the delicate, smooth, chilled out heartbreak of “Room 27.” “This next song is about a girl that I met in LA,” he shares during one of many interludes, talking to an anonymous radio DJ. “We didn’t make love straight away, we went straight to the beach and acted nervous.” He walks us through memories, pulling us close, allowing us access to the many parts of his creative soul; it’s a significant achievement, one that comes straight from his heart, and demands further exploration…
(LEFT) Top LINDER, trousers ALEXANDER WANG, shoes and chains REJJIE’S OWN
(CENTRE) Top and chains REJJIE’S OWN, trousers LINDER
(RIGHT) All clothing ALEXANDER WANG, shoes and chains REJJIE’S OWN
Do you feel that growing up in Dublin has lent anything specific to your music and your process?
Yeah, I think that in terms of Dublin it’s made me more carefree, just because I feel that I’ve taken that Irish wit to my music. I don’t know if you’ve been out there but it’s so unique to Dublin, specifically I feel like you can get that kind of sense of humour in my music. I just think my music is funny sometimes and when I listen to certain songs, it’s like I made that trying to be funny. It’s interesting to me to see people’s different outlooks and what they take from my music, because for me it’s like I’ve tried to just keep that wittiness I grew up with, that character.
I read that growing up, you listened to George Michael, Michael Jackson…
I still do [laughs]. That’s just the music I can relate to the most. I guess I’ve taken a certain inspiration to my melodies and even when I do shows – like that same energy that Freddie Mercury had, Michael Jackson. Yeah, just the greats.
Do you remember the first album that blew your mind and you couldn’t stop listening to?
MF Doom. He’s got an album called Mm…Food and when I first heard that it just completely like, transcended my mind it, just took me to a whole new place musically and I got really inspired by that. It was cool to hear music that wasn’t so structured and linear.
It was so free.
Yeah, I feel that when you make music you should be totally free of all these constructs. That’s what it is essentially, it’s letting yourself be, lose yourself. Even with me I’ve got this alter ego, but I guess while making the album it became super personal and I guess I kind of grew too, and matured and like it really lent itself into my personal, which is cool because that was never my intention.
Top and chains REJJIE’S OWN, trousers LINDER, boots ALYX
I saw on Instagram stories that you were proud of the development you’ve made, maturing out of old mindsets. What happened between your previous releases and the album? What changed personally?
I think a lot of it had to do with pressure, and a lot of it was life experiences – just dealing with death, but like so back to back. I had to come back and get in the studio but also deal with my personal struggles and stuff, and just maturity. I grew up and through traveling I’ve come to places like New York, I’ve met so many dope people and I feel like I’ve just gotten over so many things and so many barriers that I‘ve put up against myself. I’ve gotten over issues – masculinity issues, and identity issues. I feel like on the record you can kind of see that. It’s not in a forceful way, it’s just like, if you listen to my music from the last five years you can see that growth, it’s been very organic. I’m just lucky to experience that at a young age because I feel that with music, you learn so much at a rapid pace, so I try to let people know it’s not always fun and games; there’s times where it’s hard and confusing. Dear Annie is very cinematic in scope. A journey from beginning to end. What was your approach – did you have a narrative in mind?
I had the idea five years ago, especially the name. I guess that kind of stuck, to speak into existence, to put more pressure on myself. When I was making the album I tried to make something really cohesive. I wanted to make it like a real album that you wouldn’t skip songs, ‘cause I feel that the way music is consumed now it’s like fast food. It’s all about the single and everything works around that, so I tried to make an album for people to really live with, like a soundtrack to their life but also I tried to make music that could be in movies. Every song I wrote, I had a visual to match it.
Me and my visuals go hand in hand. I’m trying to get into filmmaking, I feel that’s where my brain can be a bit more crazy, so yeah I tried to make a soundtrack to like a 70s film that I’m still working on the script. It’s gonna be a film based in Dublin in the 70s. It’s a totally different way of life – the Irish way of life is unique – you couldn’t explain to someone in America how you grow up in Ireland, like the little small things you do, so I just want to put it out to a worldwide audience and I feel the music would go with that.
Are there any films you’ve seen that you wish you could have scored?
A Bronx Tale. It’s that one movie that’s always hit me, and then there’s an Irish film called The Van.
I love the track “Mon Amour.” Did you feel a special connection to Paris?
I did a majority of the album out there. I made two albums essentially, so I made one album a couple months ago and scrapped that, I guess I was really frustrated musically and creatively so when I went to Paris, this thing hit me and I just rode off the energy out there.
(LEFT) T-shirt LANDLORD, trousers ALEXANDER WANG, boots ALYX, necklaces KEANE NEW YORK, chains REJJIE’S OWN
(CENTRE) All clothing ALEXANDER WANG, chains REJJIE’S OWN
(RIGHT) Jumper ALEXANDER WANG, gilet, trousers and boots ALYX
What about it inspires you?
It’s very romantic, and the architecture, and just like hanging out and watching people. You can’t really do that in certain places because it’s made to keep going.
You’ve played football, you’ve done so many things. When did you know that music was what you wanted to pursue?
I never really thought about it. I started putting music on the internet – it was never a plan to even rap – it was just me having a creative mind and expressing myself and through the internet things took off. I’ve got more in me but I’m trying to explore. I feel like music is a gateway to all these little things, and I’m confused right now. I don’t know if I still want to do it like this, I feel like the album that I made is perfect, and I don’t want to overshadow that and saturate ‘cause less is more.
Unless it comes from the gut, right?
Exactly. With the album I only felt it the last six months, imagine the whole two years I was trying to make something… You have to really feel it sometimes and that can happen whenever – it can happen in a year, it can happen in two years.
Within the whole musical landscape – where do you see yourself? What’s your role?
I just want to be the middleman between the bullshit. I’m happy to be that relatable character that people really feel. I feel like there’s such a gap between musicians, celebrity, the public, and fans; the fans are a part of the whole album for me, just as much as me making it. They share the journey with you too. I wanna be that guy that just does dope shit.