Review Summary: Leather wrapped steering wheel, crystal clear Chicago night, Lake Shore Drive, perfect parking spot.
Did I miss something? When did Jeremih, creator of the “Oh-My-F*cking-God-Are-They-Playing-This-Song-Again??” classics “Birthday Sex” and “Down On Me”, slip through the cracks to become a top-tier R&B artist? It would appear that sometime after the release of his sophomore album, All About You
, he got tired of making albums choked with filler and decided to make one with none at all, then gave it away. The jump in quality here is comparable to Pablo Honey
to The Bends
, difference between that band and Jeremih is Thom and Co. gave us My Iron Lung
so we knew what was coming, this came out of nowhere. Jeremih has scuttled the more interesting tracks he’s found himself on with asinine lyrics and a general feeling his skull was lodged a little far up his own ass. Now he has this, and while his cranium may slide ever deeper because of it, at least it has a reason to be up there.
One thing Jeremih has always excelled at is his ability to share the spotlight with the production. Many singers do this well (Miguel, Abel Tesfaye) but Jeremih is uncannily good at it. It’s 50/50 on every song; he never succumbs to showy melisma or overwrought vocal melodies, he slots right in with his producers and, man, do they deliver the goods. The music on Late Nights with Jeremih
is astounding. Epic, lush beats that make sex with Jeremih sound like a trip through the cosmos. “Ahh ***” pulls you in and out of consciousness before a rusty guitar line looks you right in the eyes and bursts back into the haze. The bass drum hits on “Go to the Mo” sound like comets falling into the ocean. Mike Will Made It’s “773 Love” crushes his synths until they open wide for the chorus, stars bloom and sparkle, casting streams of white light until they’re sucked back into space for another verse. The production isn’t just great, its brave, the air raid siren on “Ahh ***” might be the least ominous siren I’ve ever heard.
Somehow, Late Nights
packs all its highest highs into the first half of the album without being frontloaded. It’s even ballsy enough to kick things off with the albums best song, the ebullient “Rosa Acosta”. “Call me anytime you available!” Jeremih beams as the night sky explodes into shimmering silver fireworks behind him, “Hoping late at night you available!” Softly cooed falsetto builds tension before exploding into the ecstatic chorus, “Later on tonight gon’ give you that! Ooh! Oh! Ah! Ee!” Even though the night is going perfectly he can’t wait to get his lady home. “F*ck U All the Time” masterfully censors itself before stuttering the hook until twisting it out altogether. “Keep it Moving” resurrects the cool strut of Midnight Marauders
without sounding overly reverential or nostalgic. In the face of the mighty opening salvo, the back half underwhelms at first but reveals its highlights over time. “Girls Go Wild” provides a welcome respite from all the silk with a sweaty club jam, “Knockin’” is an irresistible bit of snap and roll nicely complemented by E-40’s bubble gum flow, and “Letter To Fans” closes the album wonderfully with Jeremih getting emotional until a gospel choir swells and overtakes him.
Some of the flaws are typical mixtape junk, DJ Drama running his mouth and a few too many guest artists. I can forgive a pointless intro if it at least fits the theme but the attempt at comedy makes no sense and throws off the albums momentum before its even begun, “No introduction necessary” states DJ Drama in the opening moments of the actual first track, then why is there one? “Late Nights” and “Rated R” are fine tracks but in the midst of all the excellence surrounding them, two vanilla R&B tracks are skips.
At first glance, Late Nights with Jeremih
would appear to be an album about knocking boots but its really an album about wanting to have sex. For all his self-aggrandizing, on almost all of the tracks here Jeremih is absolutely pleading for sex. Clever, music about wanting to have sex is more compelling than music about thrusting and grunting. That’s not to say Late Nights
wouldn’t soundtrack a romantic evening, but it does work better sound tracking the thirst. “Make your excuses to leave so your boy can put that fire out,” Jeremih croons, ”Right now”
He packs an impossible amount of yearn into those last two words and will pack that same yearn into your ears. On Late Nights
Jeremih makes the massive leap from “dude you put on the hook” to a major creative force in the industry. His recent work with Shlomo suggests even better things to come. For once, I’m excited about a Jeremih album. What next? Trey Songz drops a classic? T-Pain is responsible for the album of the decade? Chris Brown makes a mediocre album? Well, lets not go too far.