In anticipation of the release of his debut studio album, Dear Annie, Dublin-born rapper Rejjie Snow dropped a mixtape, The Moon and You, on May 17, 2017. The 13 track outing features smooth jazz and jazz rock rhythms dappled with electronic and synth supported instrumentals that occasionally draw upon sonic structures similar to those heard on recent releases from Saba, Joey Purpp and Smino.

The similarities are largely rooted in Snow’s collaboration with Cam O’bi, a frequent producer of cuts from the Chicago hip-hop scene, including Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa. Much of the tape however, was produced by London’s Benjamin Miller and further assisted by Chicago’s Stefan Ponce and Belgium’s Shungu.

All things considered, Snow’s parallels to his contemporaries are drowned out by his patchwork presentation on The Moon and You, due in part to his reliance on vocal filters that add tinges of personality throughout the project. Snow never wows the audience with astonishing bars or copious amounts of clever wordplay, rather, the sincerity perceived amidst the vocal modulation crafts an honest persona for a rapper that could easily try to latch onto the grime sound of the UK.

Instead, across the album Snow finds himself rapping, which at times lands closer to spoken word or funked out slam-poetry, about periods of his youth including the death of a comrade at 10 years old on “Purple Tuesday,” or growing up Black with white friends on “Pink Flowers.” Snow never fleshes out these memories entirely, likely saving them as fodder for his studio release through 300 Entertainment, instead steadily drafting the outline for his future work across the mixtape.

Additionally, while the production is luscious and vibrant throughout the tape from the organization of harmonious synths and light percussion, Snow is never outmatched for the spotlight, often choosing deliveries that contrast the backing instrumentals. “Fashion Week” notably features one of Snow’s most sexually explicit performances on the album, though his vulgar, deep and raspy delivery juxtaposes a fantastic, dream-like mix to good effect. On the other hand, “Purple Tuesday,” which is a flip of Big Sean’s Cam O’bi produced “Living Single,” plays as one of the most straightforward jazz-rap tracks on the album, highlighting the soulful hook by Jesse Boykins III and an uplifting verse by Joey Bada$$.

Though a singular coherent theme isn’t overtly apparent, Snow did released a companion zine to complement the personal nature of the project, featuring photos alongside his friends as well as unpublished poems. The aforementioned content can for pleasant viewing material while listening to the album, though some of the images including Snow in a wasteland, as well as a dead, partially eaten bird and a skateboard under a car are largely an addendum to the stylized, artistic approach Snow takes, and offers little else in terms of a companion piece. Despite some of the unrelated imagery, the zine is merely an added bonus to a sonically charming prequel to Dear Annie.

The Moon and You is available through Rejjie Snow’s website, streaming on SoundCloud and Apple Music, and for purchase on iTunes.

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