The debut album from Rejjie Snow is a masterpiece. Listen to it - you will not regret it.
Dublin-born rapper Rejjie Snow’s debut album, Dear Annie, has arrived with a considerable amount of hype and suspense attached to it. Unusually, Snow had already released nine of the album’s twenty songs prior to its release yet this was not to its detriment. Instead, anticipation heightened as we waited to see if the 24-year old could raise the bar even higher. The answer is a resounding yes.
The sixty-one-minute, twenty track album is an odyssey through a past relationship – encompassing the initial euphoric highs, the stumbling middle, the dying hope and the crushing, absolute despair. Dear Annie expresses these emotions in the form of music, shifting in style, genre and sound as Snow lays every sentiment and passion bare for the listener to enjoy. The album begins with the dreamy, starry-eyed ‘Rainbows’ which sees Snow rap over an ethereal backing track with the addition of a sweet repetitive chorus of the title. Yet this album does not follow a chronological pattern. The sweetness of ‘Rainbows’ is followed by ‘23’ which assumes the form of a sparring duet by Snow and folk singer Caroline Smith, in which the two ponder “why you gotta say mean things about me.” The bitterness of ’23’ is juxtaposed by the following track ‘Pink Lemonade’, in which a clearly enthused Snow describes in depth the things he would like to do to ‘Annie’.
The album continues to swing with ‘Mon Amour’, a song which is sickly sweet in its representation of love. The mellow beat is sprinkled with birdsong, tinkling xylophones and synths with Snow crooning the French chorus and an uncredited guest vocalist singing longingly in French for at least half the track. The mood crashes down to earth with ‘Oh No!’, in which Snow raps even slower and deeper than normal and the sparse, stripped back beat is reduced to an occasional plod. The track is made by the haunting, emotive vocals of Dana Williams who evocatively calls for Snow to be true to her. The middle section of the album is where the outstanding tracks reside. ‘Spaceships’, ‘Egyptian Luvr’ and ‘The Rain’ are all exceptional pieces of musical craftsmanship and entertainment. ‘Spaceships’ is a funky, relaxed beat elevated by the stunning vocals of relative newcomer, Ebenezer and a Stevie Wonder-esque harmonica. ‘Egyptian Luvr’ features a typically soulful and funky Kaytranada beat and two scintillating features from Aminé and the previously mentioned Ms Williams. ‘The Rain’ is a piano backed soulful jam which can be listened to over and over again, as Snow casually raps in tandem with the wonderful voice of Cam O’bi.
However, the stand out track of the album is undoubtedly ‘Annie’, Snow’s ode to the subject of his album. ‘Annie’ combines a hustling, jerky beat with the smooth yet moving vocals of Jesse Boykins III and an inspired set from Rejjie Snow himself. A fitting end to a fine debut album, ‘Annie’ encapsulates everything which is impressive about the Dubliner; innovation, soul, impressive lyricism and excellent use of guest features. There are gripes to be had about this album; not counting the skits and interludes, there are only seven new songs that we hadn’t heard prior to this release and as such an element of mystery and surprise was removed. On the other hand, it is difficult to find much to fault and if possible, I would have written double the word count on what is truly a majestic first attempt. The future is bright for Rejjie Snow.
Dear Annie is out now via 300 Entertainment