Album Review: Rejjie Snow’s Dear Annie

“Rejjie Snow is on Familiar Ground, but with an Experimental Twist.”

★★★

If you’re a fan of Rejjie Snow, and therefore love his mellow beats and smooth lyrical flows; well, you’re in for quite a treat. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to hear his original style; look to the tracks ‘Rainbows’, ‘The End’ and ‘Pink Lemonade’, (especially that last one) if you want to listen to more of his rather effortless, fluid rhymes. On top of this, you can expect a great deal of his signature mixture of low-fi sounds with prominent drum beats, the kind you’ll find in ‘PURPLE TUESDAY’, ‘Loveleen’ and ‘1992’. At first glance this is classic, low-mood Rejjie:

“And I’m early; it’s my birthday

And you looking kinda curvy

And your titties kinda perky

I’m a savage when I’m dirty

And I’m causing controversy

I don’t care, I got attorney

All this slopey on my jersey” ~ ‘Pink Lemonade’

But that, on its own, would be woefully missing the point. For Dear Annie is clearly Snow’s experimental take on his own style. Some of his tracks integrate poppy, high pitch beats with those familiar mellow undertones, as is the case with ‘Annie’ and again ‘Rainbows’. This effect that culminates rather surprisingly in ‘Charlie Brown’, which is arguably more of a pop/electronic mix than hip-hop. Yet, this isn’t the only case of the album’s genre-bending effects, with tracks that often deviate from the realm of alternative hip-hop, moving more towards a blend of R&B, electronica and upbeat

   “I kept love and guns, I went deeper

   I loved hoes and drink, she loved sneakers

   A little bit of you I’m swimming in

   A little bit of love I’m gobbling

   A little bit of light my crucifix” ~ ‘Spaceships’

This is done primarily with Rejjie’s interesting and original use of voices, which can quite often have this manipulative quality that changes the entire vibe of a piece. Take, for example, the album’s fourth track, ‘23’, which seamlessly intertwines the the voices of Snow and Caroline Smith, pulling the song away from a monologous, sexual devotion to a woman, and overhauling it with the feel of a love song we would expect to find in popular acoustic tracks. If you disagree, listen again and pay attention to the purposeful mixture of pop-beats and acoustic chords. You’ll find more of the same in tracks such as ‘Mon Amour’ and ‘Désolé’, whose experimentation with language and voice add an entirely new dimension to the album:

“Le soir on rêve et on s’amuse

Le soir on rêve et on s’amuse

La nuit les vagues vont m’emporter

La nuit les vagues vont m’emporter” ~ ‘Mon Amour’

Despite all this deviation, you can still feel that very soulful, and human, permeation throughout the album; the variety of female voices also adds a sense of de-masculinisation. Refreshingly, the album plays out with a more heartfelt, innocent sense of love – just as the title Dear Annie and the bright cover photo of a young girl might suggest. Rounding it all off is his inventive usage of intermissions, which portray the atmosphere of a radio show, cementing this overarching feel of a very personal, real journey.

Verdict: Snow employs a great exploration with new techniques. Some of the songs as individual tracks sometimes do full short of being incredibly memorable – ‘Egyptian Luvr’ is an exception. The track is a perfect convergence of the album’s other more disparate elements; combining the smooth flows, uplifting beats and diverse voices, whilst holding close to the album’s overall feel.

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