Rejjie Snow has always occupied a unique space. Growing up, he was the only black kid in school; as a rap fan, he identified more with MF DOOM than any mainstream luminary; and he’s dabbled with so many sounds and styles it’s hard to succinctly describe his music.
Oh, and he’s from Ireland, a country whose biggest contribution to hip-hop pretty much starts and ends with House of Pain (who were barely Irish to begin with). “Being from where I’m from, it’s not the most appealing thing,” Rejjie toldNoisey. “But I want to be the one to show people that it’s not even about that; it’s more about the person.”
If, on paper, Rejjie Snow’s chances of becoming a famous rapper looked as slim as his tatted frame, his journey has been anything but straightforward. In 2011, a then-17-year-old Rejjie enjoyed his first taste of attention under the name Lecs Luther. His video for “Dia Dhuit”—a head-nodding tongue twister that sounded like an Irish kid doing his best Earl Sweatshirt impression—amassed almost half a million views.
However, just as his career was beginning to take shape, Rejjie traded the studio for the soccer field and moved to Montverde, Florida—and later Savannah, Georgia—on an athletic scholarship. About a year into his film and design studies, though, Elton John’s Rocket Management came knocking and Rejjie decided to move back home. “I just kind of got fed up with everything. I just said to myself, ‘Let me do this music shit,’” Rejjie toldBillboard.
In 2013, the young Dublin rapper reignited his career as Rejjie Snow and hit the ground running. His surreal, albino-themed video for “Lost In Empathy” clocked up the views in the hundreds of thousands while his Rejovich EP, released in June, peaked at No. 1 on the iTunes hip-hop chart, beating out Kanye West’s Yeezus and J. Cole’s Born Sinner.
It wasn’t until two years later, following another extended break, that Rejjie began to fully embrace his path in music. His comeback single, “All Around the World,” boasted a cameo from Johnny Depp’s daughter, Lily-Rose, in its accompanying video, which hit half a million views in its first week. The song also found Rejjie employing both his artificial American accent and natural Irish twang.
Rejjie is currently signed to 300 Entertainment (home to Migos, Young Thug and Fetty Wap), is planning to relocate from Dublin to Brooklyn, and is readying the release of his debut album Dear Annie, which will feature production from Rahki (Kendrick Lamar “i,” “Institutionalized”) and Cam O’bi (Chance The Rapper “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” J. Cole “High For Hours”).
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Before then, Rejjie Snow has blessed his fans with The Moon & You, a free 13-song mixtape “just to keep people happy and engaged.”
Three Standout Songs:
“Purple Tuesday” ft. Joey Bada$$ & Jesse Boykins III
Featuring gorgeous, soulful production from Cam O’bi—the same warm textures we heard on Big Sean, Chance The Rapper and Jeremih’s “Living Single”—“Purple Tuesday” is a melancholy meditation on the innocence of youth, and how quickly it can be tarnished. “Seven years old, I asked Christ and the genie / Ten years old, I seen my friend die really,” Rejjie raps.
Joey Bada$$’s verse provides the moral to this story as he reminds us that as happiness dries up with your fountain of youth, money isn’t always the answer: “A little shawty asked me what’s my purpose and why? / I told him save the children and put them right at the line / He said, ‘for sure, that’s tight, but where the dollar signs and that? / Them hella fine dimes with that ass so fat / That Phantom and the Maybach, that black MAC that go crick-crack’ / That’s when I say, ‘yo, chill, shawty, relax.’” (Word to B.I.G.)
“Purple Tuesday” bows out with a beautiful duet between Joey Bada$$ and Jesse Boykins III, who also handles the chorus. It’s one of the best moments on The Moon & You but leaves Rejjie Snow feeling like a guest on his own song.
“Pink Flower” ft. Dana Williams & Julian Bell
“Pink Flower” is another mixtape standout that’s as pretty as the title suggests. This time, Stefan Ponce provides the lush groove (what is it about Rejjie Snow and Chicago producers?) while Dana Williams, who you’ll probably recognize from her collaborations with Freddie Gibbs and Boogie, supplies an irresistibly seductive chorus. Despite being absent in the second half of the song, Rejjie delivers his best verse of the project on “Pink Flower” as he reflects on his childhood, come-up and competition with some truly poetic imagery: “Cold nights and dead friends, man, I still get shivers.”
“Acid Trip” may sound like an ironically unimaginative concept for a song, but it isn’t hallucinogens Rejjie Snow’s getting high off. Riding the natural high known as love (with a little molly sprinkled in—“my sorry”), the Dublin rapper trips his balls all the way to Paris. For a moment, the cautionary tale of Rejjie’s drug addict uncle threatens to blow the high (“While my uncle still scratching, real scrawny / With the hand me downs, oh, he luh me / Cause I luh you, wish he never hit it”), but Rejjie’s dreamy vocals and Benjamin Miller’s euphoric production is far too potent a cocktail. If only acid felt half as good as this.
If Rejjie Snow’s early work emulated Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, The Creator, The Moon & You feels like it found inspiration in Frank Ocean's recent catalog. The mixtape features plenty of eclectic production, vocal pitching and a dynamic blend of singing and rapping. “Fashion Week,” with its sparse, echoey production and Comme des Garçons reference, sounds like it was made after an Endless binge. Rejjie may be a disciple of MF DOOM, but The Moon & You proves he’s much more than a rapper.
Aside from soulful gems like “Purple Tuesday” and “Pink Flower,” however, The Moon & You falls short of Rejjie’s other recent output, including “D.R.U.G.S.,” “Crooked Cops” and “Pink Beetles.” At 32 minutes, the mixtape is over before it ever really begins. Most songs contain just a single verse while one of the best beats on the entire project (the jazzy “African Dragon”) is a 26-second instrumental interlude that Lecs Luther would have gobbled up. The Moon & You feels like a collection of unfinished ideas that have been thrown together, probably because it is.
The Moon & You may technically be Rejjie Snow’s first project in four years, but it’s not intended to be his comeback statement. With the “personal” and “honest” Dear Annie on the horizon, Rejjie promises to tell his story in more detail—a story that’s begging to be told, both for himself and his home country. Whether he can distil his diverse talents, tastes and twangs into a compelling package for American ears remains to be seen. But like a waxing crescent, The Moon & You offers a glimpse at Rejjie Snow’s exciting potential.