Imagine a Groundhog Day sequel where each day is another doomed re-run of your significant other's birthday. "It's the best day of the year, girl," you mumble for the thousandth time, fumbling for a Cialis. No one gets older, and nothing changes. That's been the unfortunate majority of Jeremih's career—somewhat bafflingly, considering the singer and multi-instrumentalist has racked up three platinum singles and features on hits from half the rap game.
Watching an album delicately slip out in the world can be a bit like peering into a delivery room — it’s messy stuff, but capable hands keep the newborn intact and ready to (rapidly) grow into its full potential. In the case of Jeremih’s long-gestating third album Late Nights: The Album, the attending doctors fumbled, repeatedly. Since forming this album’s older brother, an unexpectedly epochal mixtape similarly titled Late Nights With Jeremih, each release from the Chicago singer-songwriter born Jeremih Felton has been one self-assured step further from the borderline novelty single that brought him to fame.
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.
For a moment there, it wasn’t unreasonable to assume Late Nights would never see the light of day. It had been three years since his excellent mixtape Late Nights With Jeremih proved to be a game-changing statement that led many to understand that the artist was much more than a major label R&B singer with a one-hit wonder in “Birthday Sex” — rather, it was clear he was a true visionary. The mixtape was remarkable in its experimentation with a style few would replicate, and songs like “Fuck You All the Time” were as far ahead of their time as Missy Elliott’s.
Jeremih’s music exudes sex. On his most recent album, Late Nights: The Album, the Chicagoan suavely proves the power of euphemistic propositions: in Jeremih’s world, sex is treated with a sort of debonair elegance, always insinuated but never explicitly invoked. He’s never merely having sex; he’s “put[ting her] in the mile-high club” (“Planez”), he’s asking her to “leave with [him] tonight” (“Drank”), he’s “do[ing] her body right” (“I Did”).
The great magnitude of Jeremih's extracurricular successes, combined with slips the singer pinned on himself and his label, made the five-year separation between All About You and Late Nights: The Album an odd one. Jeremih wasn't inactive between his second and third proper albums. He accessorized Top Ten R&B/Hip-Hop singles headlined by Wale, Meek Mill, DJ Khaled, and Natalie La Rose.