i-D:
Rejjie Snow

We catch up with a sleepy Rejjie Snow at his tem­po­rary base in Los Angeles over a crack­ling phone con­nec­tion. The 22-year-old (born Alex Anyaegbunam), is in the City of Angels for a tour that has taken him around the U.S, and to finish his eagerly-awaited debut album, Dear Annie. Rejjie’s just woken up after a fun but trippy night” that started with weed brown­ies” and that ended… well, with the sub­se­quent shenani­gans they create. As we settle into the con­ver­sa­tion, Blakkst Skn, his Kaytranada-pro­duced, elec­tro-funk infused track seeps in through a slightly ajar door in the i-D office where I’m sat. That’s all you want, for your music to be played and lis­tened to,” Rejjie says approv­ingly. Everything else is what­ever.”

Photography by Jalan and Jibril Durimel

Growing up in North Dublin, with an older sister and a younger brother, Rejjie’s grand­mother was the biggest influ­ence on his family life. I basi­cally grew up around my granny as my dad would travel a lot. I learnt a lot from her,” he says. As a child, he was the only black kid at school and found him­self quite pop­u­lar as a result. I think it was because I was dif­fer­ent,” he muses. I was really good at foot­ball and run­ning, but still super shy and quiet. I had a lot of anger as a kid and that would man­i­fest itself in dif­fer­ent ways, I would get in trou­ble a lot. I never really engaged with school, I just knew I wanted to be out and doing my own thing.” His own thing was music, which Rejjie fell in love with at a young age. I was around music as a kid and I always wanted to know more. I would ask a lot more ques­tions about music than any of my friends would. I didn’t want to just know about the songs, I wanted to know about the people,” he explains. Rejjie attended stage school until he was 13, taking tap danc­ing lessons and per­form­ing in local pan­tomimes; rel­ish­ing any oppor­tu­nity to per­form. I even played the jan­i­tor in Bugsy Malone!” he laughs. I taught myself piano off YouTube and played the cheesi­est songs. I used to play some Enrique Iglesias song every Christmas when I was 15. I did clar­inet lessons, I did a bunch of things, but then I dis­cov­ered girls so I stopped all that extra cur­ric­u­lar stuff.”

Photography by Jalan and Jibril Durimel

At 17, Rejjie rented out time at a studio and recorded a few songs under the moniker Louie Gaye (“I was into Marvin at the time”) as well as songs under the name Lecs Luther, which gar­nered buzz on the inter­net. Despite his keen inter­est and unde­ni­able talent, instead of focussing on music Rejjie decided to take up the offer of a foot­ball schol­ar­ship in the U.S. at Georgia’s Savannah College of Art and Design. I loved music but there were no out­lets, no places to go and make songs, and none of my friends were doing it so I felt kind of lost,” he recalls. Whilst at Savannah, reps from Elton John’s Rocket Management stum­bled across Rejjie’s YouTube videos and flew out to meet him. Elton John lit­er­ally hit me up and came out to my school in America and I was like what the fuck!?’” Rejjie says, still blown away by the sit­u­a­tion today. In 2013, aged 20, he released his debut EP, Rejovich, as Rejjie Snow. The five-track release, which fea­tures his good friends Jesse James (on Ussr), and Loyle Carner, (on 1992) son­i­cally finds its median between mellow and clash­ing rhythms, with Rejjie’s raps, deliv­ered in a soft Irish drawl, the per­fect accom­pa­ni­ment.

Photography by Jalan and Jibril Durimel

Since then, Rejjie has released 2015’s, All Around The World, pro­duced by Cam O’bi who boasts Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa as his past col­lab­o­ra­tors. The song, a hazy ode to love and loss, fea­tures it-girl of the moment, Lily-Rose Depp in the video and racked up over half a mil­lion views in its first week of release. His 2016 releases Late Again, ded­i­cated to his mum, and Keep Your Head Up, writ­ten for a friend cur­rently incar­cer­ated, demon­strate the intro­spec­tive approach Rejjie takes to each of his tracks. My lyrics are always coming from a real place, even if it doesn’t always seem like it.” He goes on, the reason why it has taken so long to put out an album is because for a long time I didn’t have any­thing to talk about… to stand on a fake pedestal, I think that’s weird. I would rather say noth­ing.” But this year, it seems Rejjie is ready to talk. His upcom­ing album, enti­tled Dear Annie, is in his own words a com­bi­na­tion of every­thing I have ever done and ever seen put in a big blender.” Primarily deal­ing with life and death, the Annie’ in the album’s title isn’t the name of anyone in par­tic­u­lar, rather the symbol of a female god.” Rejjie explains, She rep­re­sents all these girls and the album is a letter to her. Saying sorry for what I did and taking respon­si­bil­ity for my actions. The songs are fun and uplift­ing in places but some­times a bit dark in places too. It’s con­fus­ing but it will make sense when you hear it, because I can’t explain the shit I do. All I know is that it’s my first piece of honest music.” While we don’t know what it will sound like just yet we can bet on it being unapolo­get­i­cally authen­tic and real, just like the man him­self. I am trying to be the person people want me to be but stay true to myself. And if people don’t dig that, then it is what it is!”