Rejjie Snow Talks Signing to 300, Drops New Single 'D.R.U.G.S'
For Irish rapper Rejjie Snow, the path from the soccer pitches of Dublin to becoming his home country's most promising rapper was anything but linear. After first getting into hip-hop at the age of 12 -- a cousin shared Nas and Wu-Tang albums with him -- he fell in love with music, and by the age of 17 put out a few songs on the Internet under the name Lecs Luther, which sparked interest and gave him the beginnings of a fan base. But where most people would see an opportunity opening in front of them, Snow (real name Alex Anyaegbunam) went in a different direction.
"I never really had plans for this," he says over the phone from Los Angeles. "I was more trying to be a football player, a soccer player." Snow moved to Florida to play soccer and finish school, then to Atlanta, before dropping out and returning to Europe. "I just kind of got fed up with everything. I just said to myself, 'Let me do this music shit.'"
That eventually led to the release of his debut EP, the five-song offering Rejovich, via London-based label Kaya Kaya Records in mid-2013. Videos and tours would follow, and by the time he began to follow up the release with new music he had signed a singles deal with Honeymoon, an independent imprint affiliated with Lyor Cohen's 300 Entertainment. His first Honeymoon single, "All Around the World," arrived alongside a video co-starring Johnny Depp's daughter Lily-Rose last year; he followed that up with the arresting visual for "Blakkst Skn" last December. By then, 300 had taken a much bigger interest in the rising MC.
"Rejjie is from the new generation of kids who do more than just make music or write songs. They have a message and actually have something to say," says Lyor Cohen, CEO of 300. "It's not just vital to the industry, it's vital to the culture."
These days, the soccer pitch and the studio have traded importance for Snow, who is nearly finished with his debut album, Dear Annie, executive produced by Grammy winner Rahki (Eminem, Kendrick Lamar) expected out in the new year. With his new label deal with 300 and his first single since signing the venture, "D.R.U.G.S," out today, Rejjie Snow speaks to Billboard about how it all came together, the challenges ahead and where to go from here.
How did you develop your sound?
That was just a mix of all my influences from different genres of music, so jazz and hip-hop and just the things I was into. Graffiti, that kind of lifestyle, I guess that stuck with my music. It's kind of a bleak sound sometimes; my fans like bleak.
How did you get involved with 300?
They hit up my management company trying to find me. I met Lyor a couple months ago, the first time I played in America. The first time I met him was cool, he's a cool guy, man. He's really tall -- I didn't know how tall he'd be, he's like 6'4" or some shit. He was with Young Thug at the time, and I'm a big fan of his. But he just said, "Welcome to the family, I'm excited to work with you." I signed the paperwork and the legal stuff and then I met Lyor and a bunch of people after the fact.
What attracted you to them in the first place?
Well, the money was cool, and that was the big reason. I got people that depend on me, so that was the important thing. And I also thought they were really cool in terms of creativity, and they weren't really expecting too much from the get-go, so that attracted me, too. And their roster is pretty cool, too, and they're a new label which is exciting.
What do you feel you bring to the label?
I just think I've got a different sound than everybody else. I can do a lot more things in terms of not just hip-hop; I'm down to do a track with fuckin' Britney Spears, if she's down. I don't feel like I'm too pigeon-holed into a box, so I think in terms of that I can bring something different to the table. And, you know, I'm Irish, so that's pretty different, too.
Most rappers from Europe, whether they're British or Irish or any other European nationality, they don't have a great track record in the U.S. Why do you think that is?
Maybe because of the accents and the subject matter. And also, people just don't really care sometimes. If you're an outsider it's just like, okay, whatever. You have to really prove yourself a little bit more. It's a combination of things, and I feel that, especially with hip-hop, it's very easy to get put in this gimmicky role, because like I said, you're a foreigner and it's such a different thing. I don't know; I'm still trying to figure that out. But I feel pretty confident that I can still maintain myself in America the same as I would back in Europe. But it's just about the music; that's the main thing, keeping it about the music, and everything else will take care of itself, I think.
What's the hip-hop scene in Ireland like?
I don't really know, because I wasn't even making music when I was living there; I didn't really go to shows and I wasn't really involved in the scene. I was just trying to get into sports and do other shit. So when I come back now, people look at me and asking me like, "What's good?" I don't really know, honestly. But there are people making music, which is amazing. Shit's become so multicultural now where I think that's going to be a great thing in terms of having people making music that's different and influenced by different cultures and stuff. So I don't know about the scene, but there are definitely people making good hip-hop, which is great.
What are you working on now?
I'm just in the studio finishing my album; it's pretty much finished now, I'm just mixing songs. And then just doing features for people, just trying to keep working. The album is called Dear Annie, and it's kind of like my first introduction to the world. I'm talking about a lot of things like my upbringing; it's kind of personal in that respect. I think it's very honest, and I think people are going to relate to it. Which is cool -- it's kind of like my first time being honest with my music, so I'm excited to hear what people think. I'm in L.A.; I've been in L.A. recording my music and working out here, because my executive producer's out here.
When will the album come out?
I'm trying to get it out, honestly, as soon as possible. But I don't know, I guess they have a strategic plan of how to release it. But they're saying beginning of next year, which isn't too far away I guess. But I'm going to be putting out music before then, like a mixtape and shit, just to keep people happy and engaged.