Review: Jeremih Bangs the World Senseless, One Continent at a Time, on ‘Late Nights: Europe’
Release Date: July 20, 2016
When Jeremih emerged in 2009 with the quaint (but highly sensual) No. 4 hit “Birthday Sex,” there was no sign until after his second album that he’d turned into the kind of auteur figure who toils away at his craft for far longer than the usual mainstream album cycle could oblige. But after he began to work on what would become an infamously delayed third album, he released the runaway underground success Late Nights with Jeremih, a 2012 mixtape showcasing a spontaneous side of the singer that appealed to a whole new audience. As the wait for a proper album dragged on, he released more appetite-whetters like the “All the Time” remix with Lil Wayne and “Let Loose” with the Game, as well as No More, a winning collaborative EP with West Coast electronic producer Shlohmo, in 2013. By the time that third album eventually surfaced at the tail of 2015 — also confusingly titled Late Nights — Jeremih was riding the biggest buzz of his career and built up a far more loyal following than his Top 40 fare did.
But before anyone even had the chance to ask how long a fourth album would take, he treated us to a little birthday sex, dropping Late Nights: Europe the same day he turned 29 last week. As the title suggests, the new mixtape is themed (and almost every song named) after the different cities he stopped through on his most recent European tour. In keeping with the quick-and-dirty spirit of touring, his typically hypnotizing tracks here skip to the nasty with a roughness that suggests these encounters are racing against the clock before departing to the next stop. But Jeremih works better that way — Late Nights: Europe is a dirty, delectable paean to the mischief that takes place after three in the morning.
From its entrance with the nearly growling “I came to f**k this s**t up” on “Dubai,” Late Nights: Europe avoids the coy foreplay that balances his proper albums and delves right into the slums. Without the burden of mulling over a long-lead product or the demographic expectations that come with it, Jeremih is relaxed enough here to be freaky, reckless, and out of his own head. Europe’s 14 tracks parry between drunken boorishness and sexual primacy over a series of spacious, drippy beats that still subtly ramp up the BPMs of last year’s Late Nights album. The production is Jeremih’s most intriguing to date: “Dubai” makes a glockenspiel rhythmic, and the flute in “London” will dog-whistle your senses to attention. “British Headboards” stays true to its name with an actual squeaking headboard serving as the beat, as though the steam and fog generated from this man’s sex had found a way to keep time musically.
On the Ty Dolla $ign-assisted standout “Paris,” Jeremih is as amazed and flustered as Chris Rock on Kanye West’s “Blame Game” raving about vaginal reupholstery: “Who taught you how to suck a dick with the peppermint?” he demands, backed by a beat that deflates and plops like raindrops on a puddle. Late Nights: Europe boils over with such freak-flag expression, whether the leading man is improbably bragging, “I f**k her then get her hair done / Then I rock climb in that pussy,” or asking you to “do pilates on the dick.” The audacity of his intoxicant-fueled shenanigans is so spirited and loose in vibe that he even tries to sing in patois on “London,” which captures the energy of island music and hotbox nightclubs that play dancehall all night; the song could make your hips jerk around like they’re dangerously possessed. Guest singer Stefflon Don’s dulcet chorus is so enthralling, you’ll let it wrap around you all snakelike, without a thought of being let go.
Short of performing an audible reenactment of coitus, the sexiest songs are always honest and free of doubt. The sexuality of Late Nights: Europe is loudly professed and explicitly masculine in its attitude, combining the shamelessness and sexual voracity of R. Kelly and Uncle Luke, with sharp turns toward a woman’s perspective in the recited poetry that closes “Oslo, Norway” and Sonyae’s lascivious spot on “Copenhagen.” Late Nights: Europe is so unwavering in its exploration of raw craving that you may decide, “F**k a GPS, let me get lost on it,” to borrow a line from “Berlin.” The only real missteps are the droopy “Hamburg” and the whimpering finale “The Crib,” a decidedly less-exotic return to his hometown. A typically weak verse from Wiz Khalifa adds the usual nothing to “Dubai.”
But everywhere else, the tape is baby-making jet fuel and a sizable risk factor for headboard-related concussions. Toward the end on “Copenhagen,” Jeremih hints ever-so-slightly at yearning for something longer-term: “Know you don’t be up, hit you up when I’m lit / You know you the only one that I miss / Dirty girl, you the only one that I miss.” Coming down from the drunken, hazy bender that can be tour life, it’s a nod to his lovelorn fans, whose late nights are decidedly longer. All the more reason to appreciate Jeremih’s focus on the nights where you can ignore your heart long enough to think with your dick.