The last time we went for a drive with Rejjie Snow, Lily-Rose Depp came along for the ride. The 23-year-old Irish rapper (born Alexander Anyaegbunam) tapped the 17-year-old actress for his All Around the World video in 2015. In the noir-esque visual, a dapperly suited Snow takes Depp — clad in a vintage silk headscarf — for a cruise after she snaps his picture with an old flash-bulb camera. With his newest video, Rejjie returns to life in the fast lane. Just don't expect to find Chanel's freshest face in his passenger seat, nor any 40s glamor.
Today, Rejjie premieres the video for Flexin — the first visual off his forthcoming debut full-length Dear Annie — on i-D. Opening with Rejjie and his two pals, err, borrowing a 96 Beemer, it takes place in the rapper's hometown of Dublin seven years ago, in 2010. Directed by Jamie Delaney (who previously shot videos for Rejjie's Snow and Lost in Empathy), "the video just reflects a different time in my life," Rejjie tells us. "We were inspired by the infamous Dublin joyriding craze of the early noughties, so we just tried to capture that."
Joyriding had been something of a Dublin past-time long before the noughties, and even before Rejjie's birth in 1993 (22,000 cars were stolen in the capital in 82 alone). The rapper was raised on the north side of the city, primarily by his grandma. "I basically grew up around my granny as my dad would travel a lot. I learned a lot from her," he told i-D last year. He crossed the pond at 17 to attend Georgia's SCAD on a soccer scholarship.
He's worked on finishing Dear Annie — what he calls "my first piece of honest music" — in Los Angeles. Last year, i-D hung with Rejjie and model-cum-photographer Braina Laviena in the sun-soaked City of Angels to film the video for Keep Your Head Up. Presumably, it's also where Rejjie first linked with Flexin's producer, Rahki. The L.A. native beatsmith earned two Grammys for his work on fellow Californian Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly. Rahki has architected several of Rejjie's standout tracks (Crooked Cops, Pink Beetle, and D.R.U.G.S. among them), incorporating jazzy horns and twinkling keys. But Flexin takes a different direction.
Punched up with thumping basslines and harsh drum machine hits, it's a slightly sinister trap cut that feels very now. Rejjie's Dublin accent and nods to his heritage ("Beg the boy to Riverdance," he goads) set its sound apart from the genre's American practitioners. These hometown touches are also what help Flexin put a uniquely Irish twist on a hip-hop video staple. We've seen Alabama rapper Rich Boy lead a parade of tricked-out Cadillacs. M.I.A. won a Grammy for her Bad Girls video — a visually splendorous show of solidarity with Saudi Arabia's "women to drive movement". But we've never seen a rapper sit perched atop a BMW, cruising through an Irish neighbourhood flanked by kids riding clydesdale horses.
Dear Annie is due later this year via 300 Entertainment.
Text Emily Manning