In the age of streaming figures and chart reclassifications, bloated album lengths are becoming the norm across the board. Drake pioneered the art with his 20-track albatross ‘Views’ in 2016 and his 2017 mixtape ‘More Life’ stumbled on for 22 tracks. More recently, Migos’ latest record ‘Culture II’ clocked in with 24 tracks over a gruelling hour and 45 minutes. Those albums quickly outstay their welcome but Rejjie Snow’s 61-minute debut album ‘Dear Annie’ does nothing of the sort. In fact, we could have gone for another hour. It’s that good.
The album’s length is no real surprise considering the grind Snow’s been on to get to this point. After abandoning a football scholarship in the US in 2012, the Dublin-born artist released his first EP ‘Rejovich’ a year later. A steady flow of singles culminated in last year’s ‘The Moon & You’ mixtape. ‘Dear Annie’, however, manages to be a marvellous step up – it’s a record that should rightfully become one of the defining hip-hop releases of 2018.
Over 20 tracks, the 24-year-old carves space to gleefully celebrate the dizzying heights of love and also examine some of its devastating flaws. Opening songs ‘Hello’ and ‘Rainbows’ will have the butterflies fluttering in your stomach, however there are bittersweet moments just around the corner. The album’s grooviest moment, ‘Egyptian Luvr’, implores you to cherish what you have, because you never know when it will disappear. And for Snow, it does disappear. ‘Mon Amour’ begins with a bitter tirade, yet shows Snow desperate for reconciliation. ‘Room 27’, meanwhile, pairs twinkling pianos with an insight into his suicidal thoughts. With light also comes shade, and Snow’s exhaustive portrayal of these complex emotions is why ‘Dear Annie’ necessitates a longer tracklist and a deep dive from listeners.
The darker moments are striking, though the record largely feels like a celebration of Snow’s journey. On the funk-laden ‘Annie’ he boasts of having “magic in my hands all day and all night” and on ‘Bye Polar’ gives himself a well-deserved pat on the back: “I’m black, I’m weird, I’m proud”. The jubilant overtones are reflected in the song’s diverse palate, too. Scandi-pop sensation Anna Of The North and Montreal producer Kaytranada are just two of the guests, showcasing Snow’s ability as curator as well as a sneaky-good singer and pinpoint lyricist. The results? G-funk meets NSFW lyrics on ‘LMFAO’, laid-back jazz rules on ‘The Rain’ while there are hints of Tame Impala on the glorious closing track ‘Greatness’.
‘Dear Annie’ is a stunning odyssey through hip-hop, R&B, pop and beyond, one that will lend itself to both wintry nights in and blissed-out parties this summer. The football boots may have been hung up for a while now, but Snow’s scored a belter on his debut record.