Rejjie Snow @ Manchester Academy 2
Dublin is the last place you would probably expect to have a thriving hip-hop scene, but with the emergence of artists like Rejjie Snow and Kojaque, this perspective is expected to change. Having toured with top-class artists like Kendrick Lamar and even Madonna, on her Rebel Hearts tour, Rejjie Snow went from an American sports scholarship to be on his way to become one of Britain’s most reputable hip-hop stars. Following the release of February’s 2018 release Dear Annie, he returns to the UK in support of the album. After thanking Manchester to a confused Leeds crowd the night before (we’ve all done it), Rejjie makes a pit stop at Manchester Academy.
Support came from bare chested Northampton dweller, Slowthai, who delivers snarling grime to the crowd, championed by his touring DJ/MC, who riles up the crowd for the entrance of Rejjie himself and keeps a high state of euphoria in the crowd (but with the intoxicated state of a lot of the crowd this is not too difficult). Being held in a students’ union means that the demographic of the crowd is largely of the Manchester student population, meaning it is difficult to spot anyone out of the age range of 18-20, in a uniform of vintage Adidas and Fila.
Beginning with the groovy and infectious Rainbows, from his latest release, Rejjie’s delivery is soft and sensual, interacting well with the glimmering synths. However, It is noticeable when slotting in his old material between songs such as Egyptian Lover of Dear Annie, just how much his style has altered. The older material such as All Around The World, is much more lo-fi and less polished than the newer stuff, but appears more honest and raw. Nevertheless, the crowd repeat back the choruses word for word, though slightly more silent on the verses.
It is evident just how effortlessly cool Rejjie is with a clear and crisp delivery style, humble yet oozing with effortless swagger. His sound is translated perfectly off of record, sounding almost identical, a great and seasoned performer, and he’s just 24 ! There is so much versatility in Rejjie with the crude, tongue in cheek bars of Charlie Brown and the crooning love lament of Mon Amour.
However, the material isn’t always so uplifting and seen with heart shaped sunglasses, songs such as Room 27, have increasingly ominous undertones, using the analogy of the deadly 27 club, to discuss themes of death and existence. Here we see a more honest side of Rejjie, which is also presented in songs such as Blackest Skin. Disappointingly, the crowd seem less engaged with this side of Rejjie, stopping to chat and scroll through social media.
Towards the end water is thrown out to the crowd, as Slowthai returns on stage to assist, the crowd lap it up, similar to the way they’ve been lapping up Rejjie’s performance, all night, even ensuing a mosh pit, surprisingly, to the penultimate song of the night 1992.
Tonight, Rejjie proved himself as one to watch in the UK hip hop scene, confirming my suspicions that we won’t be getting the chance to see him in a venue of this size the next time he tours.