Jeremih Late Nights: The Album

[Def Jam; 2015]

Styles: night on the town, debauchery, tranquility, Netflix and chill
Others: definitely not cuffing season

Jeremih’s never been much of a morning person. Perhaps its the dreaded feeling of a hangover encroaching on the brain, a night of restless sleep, or just waking up to a complete stranger — cold and emotionally detached. After all, here’s the guy whose innocuous plea for breakfast in bed went unanswered. But for the last five years, he’s cautiously avoided daylight and in turn found comfort in the night. Last summer, the elusive Jeremih inconspicuously released the salacious DJ Mustard collaboration, “Don’t Tell ‘Em” — going double platinum without so much as a video to promote it — all the while repudiating earlier career smashes. He’s also had to (reluctantly) recalibrate his lifestyle of excess and debauchery in order to finish the long-gestating follow-up to 2012’s watershed mixtape, Late Nights with Jeremih. If that means after hours in the studio, then by all means, Jeremih, close the damn door and shun the light. However adequate the music is for nightclubs, his moody blues and deep purples imbue a heady psychedelic sheen that ultimately abandons the VIP of Miami’s Club LIV. Jeremih’s a night owl, not a lark, and on Late Nights: The Album — his first in a lustrum — he retreats even further from the spotlight he seemed predestined for, carefully crafting an album that surprisingly finds tranquility in the 28-year-old’s thrill-seeker ways.

But don’t get it twisted, Jeremih’s still ‘bout that life. After all, isn’t that what we’re here for? In Jeremih’s Late Nights universe, only a handful of basic rules apply: that we will be partying all night; that there will be boundless rounds of Patrón, Crown Royal, Jack Daniels, or Hennessy; that we will be riding with the top down; that copious amounts of “loud” will be smoked; and that, by the end of the night, Jeremih will probably definitely be at your girlfriend’s spot for Netflix and chill. It seems like wherever Jeremih goes, excitement follows him like a lost puppy. But there’s a warmth to the seemingly endless rotation of blunts on the party-inviting “Pass Dat”: He gleefully belts out “Blunt after blunt after blunt after blunt after blunt after blunt” over a pillowy cloud of smoke that renders even Wiz Khalifa’s weed cyphers ineffective. Moreover, by the time he links up with Atlanta’s Migos on “Giv No Fuks,” he’s already crossfaded off three different drugs and devoured by the night; his lifeless body’s dangling out of the Range Rover, spewing shrewd brags at innocent bystanders because, well, Jeremih gives no fucks. Although the song’s hook is noticeably shrewd in contrast to the playfulness of “Pass Dat,” it wisely abrogates the male chauvinism for a cautionary look at an embattled ego amid a drunken stupor.

Likewise by adopting modern-day rap and R&B tropes, Jeremih effortlessly assembles, perhaps also inadvertently, an unadulterated firsthand account of his generation’s overblown libido. Make no mistake, Late Nights: The Album is the difference between sleazy and repugnant, pornographic and obscene, and the raunch here is appropriately dialed up to 11. There are opportunistic slides into your girl’s DMs, open invites to the Mile High Club, dirty talk as a primary means of communication, a dozen or so metaphors for female ejaculation, and it’s the only album known to humankind where the prerequisite for a good time is having someone’s crack on your face. But where Jeremih ostensibly revels in turning up 24/7, he does so in lieu of appearing outwardly glum in the face of enduring adversity. He’s undoubtedly no stranger to the real world, and he’s well aware it’d rather see him frown than smile. But truth is, the universe Jeremih lives in is more joyous than apathetic, feeble, or distasteful. There are times when it can be all of the aforementioned as well, but as an observer, it’s difficult to imagine that the first physical reaction produced while listening to “Paradise” — the spiritual closer and cornerstone of Late Nights — isn’t one of pure elation.

Certainly a considerable factor for Late Nights: The Album’s enjoyability is in its unfailing contemporary production choices. Similarly to the aesthetic of its predecessor, both radio-friendly and experimental, the album’s a treasure trove of exciting, sharp production, recruiting some of today’s most tuneful producers (Mick Shultz, Vinylz, London On Da Track, Murda Beatz, DJ Mustard, Soundz) who simply understand what works best for Jeremih’s adroit, rhythmic vocals. The soundscapes on Late Nights at once pulsate with life and float soberly, delicately balancing the infectious with moodiness and allotting Jeremih’s flourishing creativity optimal breathing room to do whatever he pleases. With little more than a bed of finger-snaps and prickly synths on “Drank,” his vocals materialize into a percussive instrument of their own, jutting up rhythmically and skipping melodically. On “Feel Like Phil,” over bongos, cavernous snares, ominous chimes, and dusky background noises, he bypasses the commonplace rap-singing popularized by Late Nights’s guests Twista and Future for his own intricately woven fabric of sing-raps. However, it’s not unusual for Jeremih — a self-taught drummer, pianist, and saxophonist — to put an intense emphasis upon the voice as instrument, and its integration on the album further sets him apart from his peers.

Additionally, the difference between Jeremih and his “alternative” R&B peers lies in his ability to coyly utilize songs as a springboard to indulge in wild fantasies, distinguished sentiments, and outlandish scenarios. The NC-17 pillow talk of songs “Woosah” and “I Did,” which features lines like “She doing them tricks, she just did a split/ Goddammit she thick/ Scream my name when I hit, wrote my name on her sheets,” would make even the Pied Piper himself, R. Kelly, blush. Meanwhile, the ample hot shit of album single “Planez,” with its good-foot ambivalence and cascading synthpads, displays Jeremih’s best vocal work on Late Nights: The Album: The beat steadily drops out into the background while he continues to sing in perfect harmony, “I can put you in the Mile High Club, what’s up? Let’s take a trip/ Have you ever read ‘The World Is Yours’ on a blimp?’” Sheesh, what a mack. So damn good you almost forget J. Cole is here, somewhere, trying his best to sabotage the song — that’s an achievement all its own.

Links: Jeremih - Def Jam

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