Unearthed: Jeremih— Late Nights With Jeremih
Posted in Unearthed
RECLAIMING THE THRONE
There's something to be said about well-established artists who give away earnest projects—projects that could've easily sold thousands—for the price of nothing. Seeing someone turn their nose up at absurd amounts of money in exchange for creative control of their art is encouraging to say the least, and comes as a reminder that there are people out there still in it for the right reasons.
Jeremih is one of those people. So far, the 25-year-old singer’s had a lustrous career, releasing two Billboard-topping albums and countless blockbuster hits, including a song that's birthed more children than faulty rubbers. Yet for his third and most recent project, Late Nights With Jeremih, the long-awaited comeback record after a two-year hiatus, the man has decided to give it away for free. For someone who’s stayed mostly in the mainstream realm, choosing to go with a mixtape rather than a studio album is an interesting look. But in the end, Jeremih’s decision to go rogue proves great, providing him with the room necessary to experiment in confidence and produce his best offering to date.
One issue I’ve always had with the hype surrounding Frank Ocean and The Weeknd is that many consider them to be the first artists to bring creativity into R&B—a genre that’s been dominated by cookie-cutter radio appeal for as long I can remember. Though I’d say they’ve definitely taken being unique to a whole new level, to think there haven’t been individuals pushing the barriers of R&B prior to these two would be naïve. Beyond Jeremih, artists such as Miguel, The-Dream, and Justin Timberlake have been cultivating their own brand of forward-thinking R&B long before Pitchfork deemed it cool. And on Late Nights, Jeremih proves that even seasoned vets can step outside the box and sprout innovation.
On the album, the Chicago crooner generates the perfect mix between classic and modern mentality, and it’s something that can be witnessed as early as the first two tracks. “Rosa Costa,” which, as its title suggests, is an ode to the baddest video vixen in the game, revels heavily in time-aged melodic-driven atmospheres. More or less the most traditional R&B track on the entire record, the song is then succeeded by the record’s most eccentric offering, “Fuck U All The Time.” Borrowing The Weeknd's technique for turning his voice into a textural instrumental rather than just a vehicle for salacious lyrics, Jeremih slows his vocals down to a syrupy crawl, bellowing the villainous phrase “Trap house still tippin” beneath a haze of booming 808s. Right from the start, the singer sounds more confident and daring than ever, standing tall even when he’s far from his comfort zone.
Throughout the rest of the album, Jeremih continues to flow in and out of various approaches and techniques, showing flashes of current and past R&B greats while establishing a style all his own. On “773 Love,” produced by the unprecedented Mike Will Made It and one of the album’s deepest cuts, the singer belts effortlessly atop sparse synths, filling the song out with ease and showcasing why his voice is regarded as one of the strongest around. On the track “Keep It Moving,” Jeremih utilizes a zoned-out sample from A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation," employing its smooth instrumentals to relay verses about neverminding the bullshit. And on “Feel The Bass,” we see the methods of modern R&B’ers rubbing off on the singer once again, as Jeremih opens the song with distancing falsetto cries over reverberating drum kicks. When jumping in and out of so many different styles like Jeremih has on Late Nights, it’s easy for an album to come off as merely a collection tracks rather than a conjoining project. But here Jeremih does well, thanks in large part to the record’s first-class songwriting and carefully picked production.
Part of me understands why Jeremih has been looked over countless times, both in the indie and urban spheres. He’s not enough of a shadowy enigma to completely win over alternative tastemakers, and he’s not flashy/egotistical enough to break into the mainstream demand. On the album’s last song “Letter To Fans”, a confessional track that’s eerily reminiscent of Drake’s “Look What You’ve Done,” Jeremih confronts these tough topics, stating, “Let’s forget all the award shows, and why they ain’t never mention me. Look at it like this, I looked at my wrist, like man it’s time to make history.” Self aware of his situation, Jeremih has released Late Nights for the price of nothing not only to give himself the freedom to experiment, but to also show people what he’s fully capable of. And if this is what he can bring to a mixtape, just think of the magic he can create on an actual label release.
Download Jeremih's Late Nights With Jeremih mixtape now here