In the middle of 2016, Irish rapper Rejjie Snow signed with 300 Entertainment, dropped a single, and declared his debut album Dear Annie nearly finished. Then a year and some change passed, but the mystique and dedicated following for Snow didn't wane.
"It’s really cool," Snow says of his fans’ zeal. "It just feels good that people have allowed me to go through the motions."
These motions have led him to producing the “genre-spanning opus,” Dear Annie, which finally arrived Friday. The debut borrows as much from A Bronx Tale as it does from Queen and Acid Rap, bringing along a score of features that add an organic quality and a touch of "Parisian chillness," as Snow puts it. Though he admits he doesn’t enjoy the recording process, his heart is more than dedicated to writing.
"Certain words I use, they have to have so much imagery in them," Snow explains. "So when I watch movies, that’s what I look out for." He writes to films as he would write to a beat, constantly thinking about the structure and flow of the movie as it relates to his own words.
For awhile, Snow was preoccupied with the notion of blowing up, but he says he's chosen to let that go in favor of savoring the moment. "I’m just happy the music sounds good," he stresses. "I’m happy I have the opportunity to make a first album."
Continue for his appearance on Trending Topics, then read our full interview with Rejjie Snow below. You can listen to Dear Annie on iTunes/Apple Music or stream it on Spotify at the bottom of the page.
I’d love to start by getting some perspective on your career, now that you’ve been signed to 300/Honeymoon for a bit. How has working with an American label played a role in your growth as an artist?
It’s played a role in the sense that it’s been such a different approach from their side. [Irish labels] have a different way of doing things. [American labels] are a little more organized, and that’s something I appreciate. In terms of how hip-hop is consumed in America, it’s a different kind of ball game. So the label has been good for understanding that process.
Last year you did an interview with Complex UK, where you said: "I had offers from all types of places, but I just thought being signed to an American label says something to people. It’s inspiring." Inspiring how?
For sure, it was inspiring just for myself. It let me know that I was capable of doing what I set out to do. And it was kinda scary because I never thought that the things I wanted to do would happen. Signing with a record label is one thing, but an American label is crazy. Just for kids back where I’m from, and people from Ireland, it’s to inspire them and give them bigger dreams.
How do you see you crossing over impacting the hip-hop scene in Ireland?
I don’t really know the impact I’ve had, because I’m never home. I really left at sixteen, and I’m only ever back at Christmas. But the little bits I have seen, I think my kind of influence is out there. I can see it in certain styles and flows. I brought more of an artistic touch to everything that’s going on, and I think that’s set a bit of a wave. It’s always been the plan to inspire other people. I’ve always taken influence from other sounds and other artists—that’s just the way it works.
You do have a very strong fan connection. Even with the delays, fans can’t wait to get their hands on your debut.
It’s really cool. It just feels good that people have allowed me to go through the motions.
Now that your debut, Dear Annie, is finally dropping February 16, can you tell me how you knew it was time to hunker down and make the debut record?
It just made sense. I was in the right place with myself to go ahead and release a first project. It was the right time and everyone else felt like it was the right time.
Why release the album in these smaller installments—aside from the record clocking in at twenty tracks?
That was a plan from the label and management side. Initially, I wasn’t really into it. It seems to have kind of worked out, and as you said, with twenty tracks, it’s a lot to consume. So I guess it was a good idea.
The record is being billed as a “genre-spanning opus.” Could you elaborate?
I took inspiration from movies. Especially movies from the '70s. That was cool, because when I was writing it was a different type of process. It really blended itself into the sound. I was really inspired by the cities I was in—Paris in particular. It’s a place I’ve always loved. I think you can hear that in the music, too. Lots of albums I listened to, as well, like Acid Rap by Chance The Rapper. And Queen.
You recorded this album in Los Angeles, London, and Paris. How did the vibe in each city influence you?
When I go to these places, there are all these people you meet, and you learn their stories. The culture and food of new places just opens up the imagination. Naturally, when I’m making stuff, it comes to my brain. All of these things I’ve come across find their way into the music.
How do you write to a film? Is it like writing to a beat?
Yeah, yeah, I think so. It’s the imagery, you know? I think that’s the most important thing. Certain words I use, they have to have so much imagery in them. So when I watch movies, that’s what I look out for. Then I come back and take influence.
Is there a specific film you clung to?
A Bronx Tale, I just watched that all the time. Just kind of the love aspect and the way the movie flows, I was really into it.
How did you get to working with everyone on this record: Kaytranada, Aminé, Dana Williams, etc.?
A lot of it was just very organic. Everybody on there, aside from Aminé, was in the studio together. With Aminé, it was a last ditch effort. I was supposed to get Young Thug on “Egyptian Luvr,” but it didn’t work out. So I guess the label hooked up with Aminé, and I didn’t really know too much of his music. Ever since, I’ve been a fan. I think he’s super good and super sick. It was really easy, he just put the verse down.
Kaytranada is just a good friend, and he had sent through the beat pack a couple months ago. I had laced it originally and had space for a hook. Then Dana Williams, I worked with her before. I was just in Paris with a dude called Lewis OfMan, and he was really important to the record. He brought the last touch it needed to sound cohesive.
How would you describe that touch?
It’s that swag, because he’s from Paris, he’s got that Parisian chillness.
Do you have a favorite studio session or story?
Not really, I hate recording. It’s not a fun process for me.
I don’t know. I’m trying to learn how to record myself, because I hate creating in front of people. I just feel awkward—I don’t feel super comfortable. It’s just that. I love to write music, of course.
Do you need an element of isolation?
Yeah, for sure. That’s just because I’m definitely more comfortable by myself, and I’m not as insecure. [Alone] is where I’m more comfortable, so I can think better and all that.
You can see the growth in myself and the music, and I think that’s really cool. If you’re a fan, you should be part of the journey, too.
In that same Complex interview, you mentioned never feeling like you were blowing up. Now that debut is weeks away, do you still lack that feeling?
I feel like I’ve kind of gotten off that idea, like that I need to blow up. I just feel like it’s cool because that shouldn’t be the obvious path in terms of how you want people to consume your music. I came to this place where the less I do the better, and less is more. With the album on the way, I feel like it’s gonna reach a lot of people. I’m happy that it’s up to them and what they want to do with it. I’m not gonna push too much on people. I’m just happy the music sounds good. That’s the most important thing.
As your debut album, this is almost like your definitive "This is Rejjie Snow" statement. How does Dear Annie define or begin to define "Rejjie Snow?"
It’s growth. You can see the growth in myself and the music, and I think that’s really cool. If you’re a fan, you should be part of the journey, too. So that kind of encompasses that. I’m happy I have the opportunity to make a first album.
As a final note, in 2017, you admitted you were scared of seeing the next level. How about now?
I don’t think I’m as scared. I’m still kind of weary because it doesn’t seem like it’s cool for a lot of people to know so much about you. To me, with how I kind of embrace that, it’s good to face challenges. I just gotta keep it moving.
Will fear always be part of the process?
Yeah, probably. I still got mad demons, so it’s always gonna be around.