jesse james and rejjie snow soundtrack a disaffected youth
Forward-thinking, introspective, modern; south east London's Jesse James Solomon and Dublin's Rejjie Snow make music for a generation who find inspiration in apathy and ennui. As they are shot by Tim Walker for The Creativity Issue, we meet the friends...
Jesse wears hoodie Carhartt WIP. Sunglasses and Chain model's own. Rejjie wears coat Moncler. Sunglasses Linda Farrow x Yazbukey.
Jesse James Solomon: If you haven't heard the trippy, introspective sounds of Jesse James Solomon, you soon will. While his musical output has been somewhat small, and a debut album is still on its way, the noise around this young musician has been loud. And with two new tracks, City Lights and I Hope You Knew, hitting the internet over the past two weeks, the wheels are very much in motion. Lauded by many for offering an alternative take on the kind of hip-hop London typically produces, Jesse's music sounds a lot like coming-of-age in the capital. Sparse beats and brooding lyrics, Jesse's music captures the moments in between, the grey space before the night begins and just after it has ended. Bus journeys on the top deck at the front, the empty night tube carriages, the lonely taxi rides as the sun rises.
"My music is like a soundtrack to the south east London streets I walk every night," Jesse says. Of his inspirations, it's no surprise to learn they're taken not just his friends and fellow musicians, but "the everyday people I see through bus and Uber windows." Certainly, he paints a convincing picture of what modern life in a big city can actually feel like. Like many of his London contemporaries, Jesse hails from south of the river. From grime superstar Stormzy, to Drake collaborator Dave, and up-and-coming talents like Cosima, 67 and Ray BLK, Jesse joins a new guard of musicians propelling the sounds of the south around the UK, across the Atlantic, and into the world's musical conscience.
"What makes London's music scene unique is the same thing that make the city unique, and I guess that's the diversity and the understanding we all have of each other's cultures." With all that's happening in Britain right now, politically and otherwise, there's nothing more reassuring than how bright London's music scene consistently remains -- and Jesse's carrying the torch.
The music coming out of London right now is the most forward-thinking and provoking in the world. It's very eclectic.
Rejjie Snow: When asked what makes London's music scene so special, Rejjie Snow answers "because it's very eclectic. The music out of London tends to be the most forward-thinking and provoking." The same can be said of Rejjie himself, as well as the music he makes. Forward thinking, provoking, eclectic; all words one might associate with his perspicacious rap and dynamic outlook on life.
Of his sound, Rejjie would simply describe it as like the feeling "when it's 4am and the drugs are wearing off and all you're looking forward to is your bed and a cup of tea." File under: slow, hazy, late-night hip-hop, like that of Jesse's, Loyle Carner and Archy Marshall (each of whom he has worked with). "But we're over that now. Don't do drugs kids," he hastens to add, though the bulk of his lyrics would say otherwise.
Despite the melancholy of this analogy, Rejjie's music does have an important message. A recent release, Crooked Cops, dropped a day before Donald Trump's inauguration, and is a commentary on police brutality and racism; the latest in a line of politically-imbued anthems made for a disaffected youth. While an album remains in the work, this week saw Rejjie release free mixtape The Moon & You, featuring collaborations with Joey Bada$$, Jesse Boykins III and Joyce Wrice. "I was super depressed last year about what I was trying to do and worried about letting people down. But I'm over that now. I've found solitude in so many things and I'm ready to really embark on this trip," Rejjie says, looking to the future. If this mixtape is anything to go on, we can't wait.
Text Ryan White
Photography Tim Walker
Styling Max Clark