Rejjie Snow is reflecting on becoming a standard bearer for rap music from Ireland.
“It feels like I’m definitely flying the flag just because I’m touching all the territories like America and UK,” says the 24-year-old Dubliner, who last month released his debut album, Dear Annie, on the US label 300 Entertainment, home to such hitmakers as Fetty Wap and Young Thug. “For me that was all unexpected. I guess there is a bit of pressure that comes with that and I’m trying to figure that out.”
Snow – born Alexander Anyaegbunam – believes there are “so many talented musicians in Dublin right now” with the potential to follow in his wake. “I’m and big fan of Kojaque and people like that.”
The jazzy, laidback vibe to Dear Annie is representative of much of the music that Snow grew up with. “I think with the record you can really hear all my influences, for sure. They really come to the forefront of the music,” he says. “While I was making the album I indulged myself in jazz music. I was trying to get into that headspace for the vibe.
“The way I rap as well, my flow and delivery, it’s the sound that I like to rap over.”
Snow says he “tried to really make a story” out of the songs on the album. “I tried to make it as cohesive as possible. I really wanted to make an album that didn’t have any tracks in there that people wanted to skip.”
He doesn’t see himself hidebound by musical genres, pointing out that he listens to “all types of music”.
“I love poetry and I like to read a lot,” he says. “Poetry is a passion of mine and that’s also a very inspiring thing for me too.”
His favourite writers include Charles Bukowski, Franz Kafka, Richard Aldington and James Joyce. “There’s a lot of people,” he says. “I love poetry.”
Also a talented sportsman, in his teens Snow went to the States on a football scholarship. While there he developed an interest in film, photography and art. He says living in the US changed his outlook on life. “Obviously I matured a lot while I was over there. The culture really inspired me as well – the American culture and the UK culture – just because I’d never been to places that were so multicultural, the places and people. It kind of blended itself into my music and projects.”
The American culture and the UK culture really inspired me, just because I’d never been to places that were so multicultural, the places and people. It kind of blended itself into my music and projects.Rejjie Snow
He also cites the “big impact” of Dublin graffiti scene. “It got me into hip-hop, so I definitely pay a lot of respect for that,” he explains.
The success of a couple of his early mixtapes earned Snow a place on Madonna’s Rebel Heart tour in 2016. He says the experience was chastening and taught him to “be a bit more humble”.
“When I went out there I just wasn’t prepared and I got destroyed, the crowd wasn’t digging it.”
He admits to being “super scared” playing in large arenas – “It was a tough crowd to work,” he says – but nonetheless he believes it has given him greater confidence and a feeling that “if I was going to do something like that I was well able to on my own terms as well”.
Snow’s ambitions seem to extend beyond music. He has plans to launch a clothing line and has just finished writing his own short film. “I’m going to try to produce that maybe at the end of the year,” he says, utilising some of the skills he learned while studying film for a semester at university in the US.
Songwriting, he says, is similarly “visual”. “I’ve always got the visual before I’ve got the words, there’s a narrative to everything.”
Rejjie Snow plays at Leeds University Stylus on April 26. rejjiesnow.com