“Yeah, I mean, I’m Irish, and that’s cool – but not from the waist down” laughs Rejjie Snow on a radio skit a few songs into his debut album. Snow introduces the next track in a laidback drawl. It’s the same deep, buttery voice he raps in, apart from the Dublin twang that sneaks through his speech. These smooth radio interludes pop up throughout ‘Dear Annie’, emphasising the old-school class and vibe-oriented approach, like De La Soul did with their gameshow sketches nearly three decades ago.
They’re also the only time you’d be able to place his voice on this side of the Atlantic. Snow giddly embraces his obvious influences, melting into their sounds and vernacular. A lot of them are his contemporaries. The way he pairs quiet aggression, pitched shifted vocals and soulful keys on ‘The Ends’, ‘The Room’ and ‘The Rain’ could pass for cuts on Tyler, the Creator’s ‘Flower Boy’ if he threw in some car references. His cool, woozy delivery pulls from 90s’ jazz-rap, while the beats could turn up on a wealth of artists you’d find digging through a Spotify chilled rap playlist. Nice, sure, but this is the core problem with the 20-track ‘Dear Annie’ – it feels like it’s assembled by a trendy algorithm rather than an individual’s personality traits.
Rejjie Snow is very good at what he does. Highlights, like the Kaytranada-produced ‘Egyptian Luvr’ perfects the languid mood he thrives in. He delivers playful verses that bounce off the sunny beat. ‘Mon Amour’ is goofy and cool at the same time. Its sun-baked Parisian vibe somehow combines Flight of the Conchords’ ‘Foux Du Fa fa’ with the sweetness of a Stevie Wonder song. Rejjie is a loveable rapper with a lot of promise when we can hear his personality, but he frequently fades into the background on his own album.