When we last spoke to Alex Anyaegbunam back in November, the Dublin-born rapper was hip-hop’s hottest new property. He’d collaborated with Joey Bada$$, lunched with MF Doom and toured with Madonna and Kendrick Lamar. Everyone wanted a piece of him. Fast-forward four months and not much has changed. His early promise has translated into near-perfect debut album ‘Dear Annie‘ and a set of hotly-anticipated UK live dates. In short, it’s never been a better time to be Rejjie Snow.
Imagine our surprise then, to hear (straight from the horse’s mouth) that Rejjie Snow’s career might not be as long and fruitful as we once thought. Read on to find out all about Alex’s plans to reinvent himself even as he hits the peak of his powers.
The response to ‘Dear Annie’ has been overwhelmingly positive – how does that feel?
“It feels really good, man. It’s what I set out to achieve and I love seeing people react to it in a positive way. The process of making an album is so nerve-wracking anyway that I have to try and ignore what people are saying, but it’s good to be talked about and it gives me more fuel to be creative. I definitely feel more positive.”
Who is Annie?
“She represents Lucifer. It’s all one person – the red-haired girl on the cover and in the songs. When I was little, the Annie doll used to really scare me. During recording I thought it would be cool to have the image of that character from the film as a reference point. The album itself is like a play or a movie with all these different experiences and relationships playing out.”
Who did the voice of the radio DJ on the skits?
“Haha, that was me. I just did a weird voice and the one we used is literally my first try. Initially I didn’t like it, I found it annoying. But the way people reacted to it made me laugh.”
What was it like working with Grammy-winning producer Rahki (‘To Pimp A Butterfly’)?
“It was sick! He produced ‘Greatness’, ‘23’ and ‘Annie’ on the album. I was trying to get stuff out of him about Kendrick but he wouldn’t talk. I didn’t really think much about his achievements. I just hit him up and he said he wanted to work with me.”
Do you feel more confident now that people like that rate you?
“Yeah. I figured out that if you’re just yourself, shit doesn’t really affect you. You’re not as self-critical because you put everything out there. I still feel like no one really understands where I’m coming from though. So it’s kind of hard to figure out what I really wanna do and who I wanna work with.”
Who doesn’t understand – the public or the music industry?
“Everyone that works with me. They might think that they do, but I feel like it’s hard to understand me. That’s fine though because I’m open to letting people try to work it out.”
Is that frustrating?
“Yeah, making the album was initially difficult but I learned to make it happen on both sides. If you want to be successful you have to try. It’s not a creative thing, it’s things like understanding what a single is, promotional schedules, all of that. It’s hard to be put in that position and expected to know how to handle yourself. It can be quite frightening because a lot of the time you’re just a little fish in a big pond.”
Would you rather release music independently?
“I think there’s positives and negatives to that approach. It is good to take your time and plan but you shouldn’t think about it too much. But yeah, I think releasing music independently is sick – I would definitely encourage it. I feel like certain people are too creative to have constraints and be micromanaged.”
Who are you listening to right now?
“I like Kojaque. He hits me up a lot to work with and that’s cool ‘cos no-one ever really hits me up to collab. So respect to him. I think anyone making music in Dublin, it’s all respect really.”
I interviewed Tom Misch the other day and he says he sees you in the pub sometimes…
“Oh fuck. Should I say what’s up? His music is sick. I’m aware of it just from living in south-east London. Me and a lot of those guys are friends. It’s not even a music thing ‘cos when I first came over to London I met a lot of people and I’ve just hung around them. It was sick to watch Archie [Marshall] (King Krule) release his first album from the position I was in then.”
What other hobbies do you have?
“Painting. I also draw characters using graphic design and typography. I did a piece in New York just last week actually. I did it more before I was touring – like when I was in college. With music you get so many opportunities to be creative so – why not, you know? It’s better to just make your own shit.”
What’s next for Rejjie Snow?
“This is my last album as Rejjie Snow.”
“I just feel like I’ve outgrown that identity. I made that name when I was much younger, a different person. I feel like I just made an album that nobody can touch and it’s mine and it’s different. There’s no need to further that. I also don’t want to limit myself artistically and just be one person. I’m not going to retire from making music. I just feel like Rejjie Snow is dead.”
So what’s next? Is there a new album?
“It’s just Alex and it’s myself. It’s more personal and the music will be better. That’s all that matters.”
‘Dear Annie’ is out now on 300 Entertainment
Rejjie Snow plays:
March 9 – Bristol
March 12 – Dublin
March 14 – London
April 20 – Oxford
April 21 – Cambridge
April 22 – Birmingham
April 24 – Norwich
April 27 – Manchester