Rejjie Snow, originally from Dublin, Ireland and now residing in Brooklyn, has certainly been armed with a strong musical identity, with his diverse background reflected in his sound.
The bitter, dark, lyrical tone, delivered in the characteristic deep voice evident on his early work, is still clear on Dear Annie, but his cynicism has been added to by regular self-deprecation and an awkward and often relatable sexuality.
After showing early promise on his 2013 mixtape Rejovich, Rejjie Snow has produced a strong debut LP, often striking a fine balance between sadness and an almost psychedelic playfulness.
Dear Annie is an exploration of love. The hour-long project meanders through the ups and downs of a well-explored subject matter and when Snow approaches with a soft touch, his message and sound combine beautifully. At times Dear Annie is frighteningly relatable.
Snow finds this delicacy early on in the album, with ’23’ (feat. Caroline Smith) setting the tone for the entire LP. In this duet, sung alongside the likely semi-fictional character of Annie, both characters berate each other for a lack of affection.
It gives off a melancholic and love-drunk aura, colouring the album a deep blue; the loss of their love is inevitable and both characters are grasping at an idea which neither will achieve.
Yet, silliness is perforated throughout the track listing, with references to Paris, cheesy French lyrics and tasteless insults towards Annie cracking this album’s superficially serious façade.
This lightness reflects the often illogical and reckless nature of love. ‘Mon Amour’ and ‘Désolé’ are tracks in which Rejjie’s balance of poignancy and humour hit their mark. The French motif used in these tracks is personally very close to the bone.
The punky and almost ignorant silliness of ‘LMFAO’ misses the mark and sticks out as an anomaly in the listing. A sickly sweet hook and beat, founded in slap bass and a bratty delivery by Rejjie, nonchalantly describing a love for sex and Fifa, lacks the balance that he finds elsewhere on the LP.
‘Bye Polar’ is by far the most accomplished track on the album, traversing along a versatile beat.
Beginning with a beat reminiscent of Tyler the Creator’s ‘Answer,’ a hypnotic guitar loop layered with soft keys and subtle bells transforms seamlessly into a stripped back bass line and Rejjie’s driving lyrical cadence, quickly giving way to upbeat keys and self-deprecation, which by this point in the album has become Rejjie’s calling card.
Growing up as “the only black kid on Dublin’s Northside,” Snow treads an unusual path into hip-hop, yet diversity is still the great strength of the genre. It is rare that an album hits you as Dear Annie has hit me. The more you listen the more you relate and discover.
This is not a perfect album but Rejjie Snow has found a niche for his emotional and dark lyricism and debuted with confidence and power.
Have a listen for yourself…
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