By most metrics, Rejjie Snow appears to be a rap artist and that’s technically true. But he doesn’t see it that way, and in any case the simplicity of the label (or any label, really) obscures what makes him different, which is pretty much everything. “I thought I’d be blacklisted from hip-hop for being Irish,” he says, but that’s only the most obvious thing setting him apart. It’s not just that he grew up the only black kid on Dublin’s Northside, where there’s no music scene to speak of.
It’s that Rejjie is a scene unto himself. He lives wherever his suitcase settles, wherever the songs send him Los Angeles, New York, London making albums in the middle of making other albums, and tangling words into beautifully complex knots that blur biography with fantasy over a shifting mass of rainy loops, technicolor keys, and trippy percussion. And then there’s his voice, deep and otherworldly, capable of riding a beat with metronomic precision, cooing to raw piano, or yawping Prince-like over a soul-rock-jazz groove. His influences are as disparate as George Michael and Bobby Sands (the Irish revolutionary). He designs clothes and paints. He sees the moon as his first love. He almost had a career as a soccer star, but instead Rejjie has toured with Madonna, recorded with left-field dance genius Kaytranada and, after signing to 300 Entertainment in 2016, become labelmate to other outsiders like Young Thug and Fetty Wap.
Rejjie’s debut album is on the way. Its executive produced by Rahki, who won a Grammy with Kendrick Lamar, and it’s already given us a handful of impressively (though not unexpectedly) diverse gifts. There’s the moody G-funk of “Crooked Cops,” which Rejjie wrote after watching police violence explode in the U.S., and the thrilling “Flexin’,” a hypermodern trap-addled bleak-banger full of unapologetic braggadocio. The chiming “D.R.U.G.S.” already surpassed 4 million YouTube streams and its followup, “Pink Beetle,” was named “Hottest Record in the World” by BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac. And this time, rather than retreat amidst growing anticipation, Rejjie went ahead and dropped a full-length mixtape on the way to releasing his LP: 2017’s The Moon & You, an experimental beast of a different stripe that, despite a Joey Bada$$ cameo, puts him more squarely in the camp of genre-less auteurs like Shabazz Palaces, Anderson.Paak, and Thundercat. “That was just some shit I made that needed to get out,” says Rejjie. “I’ve always done things impulsively â€” I made Moon over a three-week period.” Which is wild to think about. That a guy who says he barely even listens to rap anymore could so thoroughly flip the art form with less than a month to do so speaks volumes to the potential he packed within his slim frame. And it’s all the more reason to pay close attention to his music, whatever you want to call it. The next opportunity, coming soon, is appropriately astral a brand-new single called Virgo. Watch this space.
Rejjie Snow is the cover star of this winter’s Notion Magazine. Described as “Ireland’s premium export”, Rejjie Snow talks in depth about his music and life. Tasbeeh Herwees is in conversation with Snow as we take a deep dive into the inspiration behind his debut album, Dear Annie.
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