Chicago native Jeremih is no stranger to the R&B scene. Since "Birthday Sex", from his first self-titled album, dropped in early 2009, the ears of the music industry have been keeping a close listen on the 25-year-old singer.
In the years since "Birthday Sex", Jeremih has released two albums, had a #1 hit single with his 50 Cent-assisted "Put It Down", and appeared on the hooks of countless records by the likes of Meek Mill, R. Kelly, Diggy Simmons, Travis Porter, and Wale. He also released one of the most well-rounded R&B mixtapes - in the form of the DJ Drama and DJ Pharris-presented Late Nights - since Drake's So Far Gone changed the game in the Fall 2009.
The go-to hook voice of 2012 spoke to AllHipHop.com about his recently released mixtape, his ties to MMG and its artists, what fans can expect on his next release, and when we'll hear a new record with 50 Cent. Check out a pure exclusive interview with Jeremih below:
AllHipHop.com: Congratulations on all of your success as of late. You’ve been doing your thing since you came onto the scene a few years ago, but in the past year, you really turned things up.
Jeremih: For sure, man. I appreciate it.
AllHipHop.com: Of course, mixtapes have been around forever, but I feel like, and I’m sure a lot of people would agree, that no R&B cats or singers were really doing projects like this prior to Drake’s So Far Gone. As a singer, how did you approach putting together your Late Nights mixtape?
Jeremih: One thing I can say is that I feel in R&B, you can over saturate yourself with quantity over quality, so I really wanted to take my time doing it, and just ask people that have only heard two albums from me to know that what you’re going to get on the third one will be just as solid from me.
I just thought it was time, with the climate of R&B that both the fans and people in music love, in general, free music - there’s nothing like it. At least I do, so I wanted to give something back to my fans. It’s been two years since I released All About You, and it feels good to know that “Put It Down” really did last two years, so I was able to take my time with this mixtape. And hopefully, my fans enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed recording it.
AllHipHop.com: I saw that you also produced two of the tracks on the Late Nights mixtape. Is that something that you just started doing, or has that been a talent up your sleeve from the beginning?
Jeremih: Before I actually started singing or even rapping, I was in tune with production. I’m a musician before it all, and when I finally learned how to do sequences off of Fruity Loops and then Reason and then Logic, that’s when I began to produce.
Before I actually met the producer from both of my albums, Mick Schultz, I was producing, and it was an adjustment for me working with him because I knew the production side but I was brought into a new realm. He was also a writer, and just strictly being a singer after even rapping, is how I started off. Eventually, when I started picking up the keys and other instruments, I started putting melodies to a lot of my raps.
AllHipHop.com: So, you’re essentially a producer turned rapper turned singer?
Jeremih: Yeah, I would almost say that, because when I first started producing, I would chop a lot of samples like Kanye West and No I.D. and a lot of people that were making Hip-Hop records off samples. I didn’t have much of a choice but to rap on the things I had, because I didn’t really know how to come at a record singing. So I was rapping and making a whole bunch of old school Hip-Hop battle type of records, and then when I met Mick, I started singing because I was no longer sampling, and I had more options because I had more melodies to follow.
AllHipHop.com: In addition to your own DJ Drama-presented mixtape that just dropped, you’re also on his new single, “My Moment”, with 2 Chainz and Meek Mill. How did the whole relationship with DJ Drama begin?
Jeremih: I’ve been a fan of Drama for the longest time, from all the mixtapes and all the Gangsta Grillz, and you know, honestly, I think I bumped into him in Atlanta one time and I’ll never forget the conversation. When I originally linked up with Drama, I was on a record with Diggy Simmons, and Drama was saying, “You giving out hits; I want a piece of that.”
He said it in a joking way, but I was laughing in a serious type of way, and ever since then, I always link with him in Atlanta. And I wanted to play him some of the new records that I had in the vault, and I actually played the beat and for “My Moment”, which was done by T-Minus - it wasn’t much of a song because I just laid a hook down which was like all freestyle, and regardless, he said, “I want that!” Ever since that original day in Atlanta, we been cool.
AllHipHop.com: You’ve been on more MMG records in the past few months than Omarion has, so I have to ask, has there been any talk, or is there any possibility that you're going to be joining that team?
Jeremih: You know, if someone had reached out to me - which no one did - and they were looking for an R&B cat, I couldn’t’ see why [not], being that I’ve had a couple records with a couple of the members, then who knows? I mean if they give Omarion the boot, then who knows? If they with it, then you never know.
AllHipHop.com: I think you know more than you’re letting me in on, but I’ll accept that answer for the time being.
Jeremih: [Laughs] I’ll say this, if they cool with Omarion and his presence over there, then I can’t hate on that, and it’s cool with me.
AllHipHop.com: I want to ask you real quick about 50 Cent. You two did big things with your “Down On Me” record, then you hopped on his “Girls Gone Wild” track. Is there something else in the works that the fans should be looking forward to from you two?
Jeremih: Yeah, that’s my dude. Actually, we just dropped another record on his last project called “Planet 50”, and I love that joint. I definitely want to save 50 for my album, and you can look forward to him being on there and vice versa, if he feels the same way. Definitely look forward to more hits, man.
AllHipHop.com: It’s been two years since All About You dropped, which is why you wanted to get Late Nights out there for the fans. How far along in the recording process are you for your third album?
Jeremih: Well, it’s a lot of things beyond music that I wouldn’t have reached this third album without having, and I just feel like when I look at my competition, this third album is definitely going to be something that stands out and that could really separate me from the rest.
All the time I get the “he sounds like” and “he’s trying to be like” this person or that person, but honestly, I sound like me, and I’ve really just been me. I’m hoping that people get the gist of that with this new tape, but I can definitely say that a lot of records didn’t get on this tape, because I knew that they were much bigger records than just something I could give out for free like that.
I can say that I definitely have more than half of my third album done. I’ve been collecting a lot of these records over the past couple of months, like I’ve got Busta [Rhymes] on deck for one record for sure. I’ve got production from Da Internz to Mick Schultz and a little bit of everybody. Right now, it’s just about digging deeper for the next couple of months and making sure that I have at least four or five number ones on there that will make a bigger impact on this R&B community.
AllHipHop.com: In the overall scheme of things, how crucial is the third album to you now that you have a number of things working in your favor?
Jeremih: A lot of people say that your first and second album is the “make it or break it,” but to me this third album is the most important in my career because I made it to a third album, you know? I kind of want to make sure that people get to know me more, get to know how to say my name right, get to know my face, and get to know my voice. That’s my goal for the third album.
AllHipHop.com: Well, Jeremih, I hope I’ve been saying that right…
Jeremih: [Laughs] Yeah, you good.
AllHipHop.com: Best of luck on the next album, man, and thanks for taking the time to talk to me.
Jeremih: Thank you, man. I appreciate it.
Follow Jeremih on Twitter (@Jeremih).