Don’t Miss Rejjie Snow’s Debut ‘Dear Annie’

Rejjie Snow finally brings his debut studio album to listeners. The long-awaited project is preceded by popular tapes such as Rejovich and The Moon & You, stellar and cohesive EPs that garnered the Dubliner a passionate following. Dear Annie is Snow’s attempt at something more expansive. The album is uniquely variable; outstanding production top to bottom allows Rejjie to experiment stylistically, lyrically, and conceptually. Features from superstar contemporaries including Jesse Boykins III, Cam O’bi, and Aminé underline what is an incredibly rich project that encompasses a number of powerfully relatable themes

Dear Annie is as much a letter from Rejjie to himself as it is to us. Raised in Ireland, Snow has spoken repeatedly on the struggles he faced. Snow continues to grapple with his personal and artistic identity. Songs like “Rainbows” and “Greatness” touch on being black, his influences, past, and future.

Romance is a particularly evocative theme across the album. Snow has a distinctly multi-dimensional perspective on love, and attacks it from a number of different directions. On “Mon Amor,” Rejjie joins Milena Leblanc over production from Lewis Ofman, delivering French vocals and two detached verses that speak to his addiction to pain of love: “Fuck love, its ugly.” “Spaceships” touches on lust and idealism. Perhaps the most eye catching track on the album, “Egyptian Luvr,” produced by Kaytranada and featuring Dana Williams and Aminé, is written about the last moments between lovers:

“Tomorrow isn’t promised and we learn this the hard way. The last moments with your lover. In this song I was […] telling my girl how much I love her and thanking her for this journey we rode.”

Rejjie brings a calculated emotional complexity to his album. Love is a beginning and ending point for this intricacy. Transient and ephemeral, love is tied closely to death on the album, influencing Snow and dictating what drives him. As powerful as love is to him, it’s also a catalyst for the growth of his emotional intelligence: “I hate love but in a crazy way,” he raps on “23”; later on “Désolé” he emphasizes “love is just a fucking sin.”

“My album has lots of different feelings if you care to listen to it. I wanted it to feel like you’re slowing dying and losing your mind throughout.”

From Rejovich to The Moon & You, it’s been difficult to pin down a distinct characterization of Snow’s style. Seemingly as adept a rapper as he is a singer, Snow has adopted different styles and approaches to his albums over the recent years. On Dear Annie, it is similarly difficult to pinpoint any one cadence as Snow’s trademark sound. The variety of producers on the album is mirrored by a dearth of features ranging in genre and style. Snow gives nod to collaborator Rahki for pushing himself out of his comfort zone on songs like “Annie.” The titular track combines a faster paced instrumental and resonant vocals from Jesse Boykins, bringing a looser style out of Rejjie distinct from much of his previous work.

Several tracks, however, rise above the other and demand attention. “Mon Amour,” “Room 27,” and “Désolé” all share production from Lewis Ofman. Instrumentals heavy on synths and organ create an airy, dreamlike tone that contrasts Snow’s verses examining themes of, death, isolation, and more. “Room 27” makes direct reference to the infamous 27 Club, which, for Snow, represents a symptom of the personal difficulties that come with modern music. “Désolé” is Rejjie’s personal relationship with love, regret, and insecurity.  This trio of tracks in many ways the most understated yet revelatory tracks on the album. They are stripped down and at the same incredibly complex, and all the more beautiful for it.

At the end, however, Rejjie reminds us that these feelings are just part of the human condition. Dear Annie does not pretend to be anything it is not: an eclectic mix of songs, emotions, styles, and intrigues. The album picks up pace towards the end, ushered out by  bouncy tracks including “LMFAO” and “Bye Polar,” reminders not to take yourself too seriously, and to enjoy all the good in life.

Take a moment to listen to Dear Annie on Spotify and keep an eye out for Snow’s tour dates below.

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Here Are 10 Essential Tracks From 2017 You Need To Hear

As with every year, 2017 saw the rise of an innumerable amount of talented artists. From the explosive return of SZA to sweet debuts from GoldLink, Smino, and Sabrina Claudio, many received their well-deserved shine.

To help sift through the sea of newcomers and veterans alike, here are a few of our favorites from the past year:

Andy: While more commonly recognized for his production for artists including A$AP RockyRick Ross, and FutureChildish Major is continuing to climb the charts for his vocal work as well. I first came across the Atlanta artist when he teamed up with SZA and Isaiah Rashad on “Happy Birthday,” a track that would serve as one the lead singles from his recent WOO$AH project. “I Like You” pairs his fleeting verses with verses from 6LACK and DRAM, topped off with woozy production from Supah Mario.

Andy: As a member of the creative empire known as MSFTSrep¿Téo? weaves between bellowing croons and crisp verses. “Uno Dos” with Jaden Smith plays like an ominous Amélie soundtrack B-side with a fresh rap twist. Subtle guitar riffs and a steady pocket from Teo Halm carry the track forward as ¿Téo? and Jaden trade swift verses. Needless to say, this is one I’ve had on repeat for a while now and leaves me looking forward to more music from the MSFTSrep crew. – Andy

Jonah: IDK‘s IWASVERYBAD boasts a routinely self-reflective tone, delving into IDK’s life as he discusses love, youth, his relationship with his mother, and more; the Maryland rapper offers himself for examination as a microcosm of the industry that changed his life, challenging the voyeuristic obsession with the American “gangbanger.” These themes come to head in “Black Sheep, White Dove,” a glowing ode to IDK’s late mother that is a testament to his musical, lyrical, and emotional progression. Boasting a painfully melancholy hook, the track undergoes several evolutions that work in tandem with IDK’s ongoing reckoning with the past, searching within himself for acceptance and absolution. IDK poised on the edge, penning a powerful eulogy and proving himself a complex artist and person that does not fit within the two-dimensional chalk lines he refutes. – Jonah

Jonah: BROCKHAMPTON haven’t been out of the headlines since dropping the first Saturation. Three albums later, BROCKHAMPTON have attracted an ardent fan base and released some of the year’s finest music. Saturation III represents the culmination of the series, tying together themes and demonstrating the group’s growth over the course of the three installments. “BLEACH” stands as one of the album’s few unexpected collaborations; Ryan Beatty’s chorus is a bittersweet R&B falsetto that tinges the song with a mournful flavor as the Brockhampton boys combine with characteristic coordination. Each verse is very much a part of those surrounding it, gradually spiraling into the pitched murmurings that carry it towards its close and invite listeners to get lost in the track just as its creators did. – Jonah

Keenan: To say that Brent Faiyaz has had an incredible year would be an understatement. Besides singing one of the catchiest hooks I’ve ever heard on a Grammy nominated single, his Sonder (alongside producers Dpat and Atu) released their stellar project Into. To cap it all off, Faiyaz dropped his intensely personal debut album Sonder Son, perhaps my favorite album of the year. “Gang Over Luv” is one of my favorite cuts off the album, invoking a vivid youthful nostalgia. – Keenan

Keenan: For years now Sángo has made a name for himself by taking samples of Brazilian “baile funk” or “funk carioca,” flipping them with his own unique spin. “Conte a Todos” is Sángo at his best, combining hard hitting drums with an infectious melody impossible to stay still to. 2017 was the year I dove into the wave that Sángo has created in Brazil and beyong with “Conte a Todos” standing as one of the songs that dragged me in headfirst. – Keenan

Camille: With its mellow beat, bright keys, and smooth harmonies, Rejjie Snow‘s “PURPLE TUESDAY” featuring Joey Bada$$ and Jesse Boykins III presents a call for unity in the face of modern day struggles. – Camille

Camille: Produced by H.E.R. and MNEK, “2” illustrates a twisted tale of love, cheating, and revenge. The self-titled album was intended to allow “women to really feel how honest and vulnerable [she is] and to understand that they are not alone and that these are all human emotions.” – Camille

Andy: Ciscero has been killing it all year. From teaming with GoldLink on “Fall In Love” to the JULiA LEWiS-produced “Potential,” the DMV rep is steadily building his resume. j.robb flips the Mick Jenkins and BADBADNOTGOOD cover of “On The Map,” allowing Ciscero, Jay Prince, and Foggieraw to swoop in and create the perfect soundtrack for whipping around town. – Andy

Andy: Rayana Jay has an alluring voice and aura that allows her to reel in listeners with ease. As one of the true standouts from her Morning After EP, “Magic” recruits producer ROMderful for a disco- and funk-filled joyride. She shines over a whipping bassline with a classic call and response that culminates in an effortless jam that’s sure to have you grooving along. – Andy

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our Don’t Sleep playlist on Spotify.