- 16 Feb 18
Boundary pushing opus from Dublin rapper.
Even before the recent boom in Irish hip-hop, it felt like there was always Rejjie Snow. Dublin-born, and based in London, the young rapper took instruction from absolutely no one when he set out his manifesto on 2013’s Rejovich EP (which ended up topping the iTunes Hip-Hop Charts ahead of Kendrick and J Cole).
Since then, it feels like the 24-year old has lived about ten careers in the space of half a decade. He’s recorded tunes with Joey Bada$$, released some of the hottest mixtapes around, and received mountains of international attention. So yeah, you’re not the only one struggling to believe that Dear Annie could really be his first album. But in amongst the reworkings, side projects touring and collaborations, Snow found time to quietly craft this piece of work record. And the end result is an odyssey of unbridled beauty.
From the haze of laidback funk comes Snow’s velvety flow on opener ‘Rainbow’. This is a tone-setter for an hour-long LP that finds Snow diving into jazz-fusion and smooth ’70s funk - a la his beloved MF Doom. ‘23’ sees Snow engage in a soulful duet with Caroline Smith (of indie folk band The Good Night Sleeps), while on ‘Oh No’ – the most quietly introspective track – Snow neatly tackles the sacred and the profane (“And when I fly myself to heaven, gates will open for me… I still believe in Jesus Christ, but what’s the point? I’m horny”). This is a common motif throughout the album: a lyricist who’s too smart and profound for his own basic urges. He’ll square a rap about taking a girl “straight to my mattress, I was on smashing”, with a message about loving her like it’s their last day together.
Elsewhere, ‘Spaceships’ finds Snow sparring with UK rapper Ebeneezer amidst Nile Rodgers-esque guitar hooks; ‘LMFAO’, with its taut bassline, is readymade for dancefloor action; and the synth-driven ‘Charlie Brown’ samples Republic Of Loose’s glorious ‘The Steady Song’ to thrilling effect. Meanwhile, ‘Bye Polar’ – which explores the braggadocio prevalent in rap – is perhaps the most conscious track (and the most sinister sounding). Signing off in style, the concluding ‘Greatness’ harks back to 2Pac’s classic ‘Dear Mama’ – sung in a northside accent, of course. A few needless skits aside, this is a sublime listen from start to finish. An early contender for album of the year.