The story of every one-hit wonder is the same. Through a supremely mysterious combination of talent, ambition and luck, an unknown artist writes a song they didn’t expect would be popular outside their hometown (Hurricane Chris), the melody and hook turn into a musical crack rock America gets hooked on (J-Kwon), the song gets played continuously until everyone’s sick of it (Shop Boyz), and the artist is never able to match the intensity of their initial hit (Huey). Of course, every so often an artist explodes and stays hot (Flo-Rida) - sometimes they even become …
DJBooth Album Review
Considering he’s single handedly brought back the “it’s my birthday” pick-up line, it’s only fair that we ask one simple question: is Jeremih a one-hit wonder? In a word, no. Much to my delight the young Chicago crooner has crafted a self-titled debut album that chronicles a still developing artist with the ability to become a music industry mainstay. If labels could draft musicians like NBA teams draft players, he’d be the guy picked in the late first round who may not have been as highly touted, but immediately becomes a solid contributor. Did I just call Jeremih the Kevin Love of R&B? Yes, I believe I did.
There’s not much to say about Birthday Sex that hasn’t been said before, or done repeatedly. There’s a reason it’s a hit. The production is catchy without relying on gimmicks, Jeremih delivers a vocal performance with just enough auto-tune, and it’s about sex. Better than New Year’s Eve sex, which is always a little too drunk, and anniversary sex, which is always a little too heavy on the romance, Birthday Sex delivers a perfectly enjoyable experience. And yes, I’m talking about the song and the act.
But I’m not here to write about Birthday Sex, I’m here to write about everything besides Birthday Sex. Right off the bat there are some solid indications that Jeremih is no one-hit wonder album – first, there are exactly zero guest features (don’t worry, T-Pain and Weezy won’t starve). And second, the entire album is produced by up-and-comer Mick Schultz, making Jeremih and Schultz’s partnership a younger version of Dream and Tricky Stewart. In fact, calling him a Dream in training isn’t that crazy. Just take Raindrops, a track with a heartbeat drum line that Jeremih transforms into a R&B banger, or Buh Bye, a more pop-oriented jam that should pack dance floors. Now Jeremih’s got a way to go before he’s a Dream. The album occasionally dips into juvenile territory, most notably on the forced swagger anthem Imma Star and the painfully shallow My Ride, but Jeremih’s young. Give him time.
After listening to Jeremih I could make a couple more superstar comparisons, most notably on the album’s slowest track Starting All Over. On Starting All Over Jeremih flashes moments of Raphael Saadiq’s vocal style with the storytelling ability of Ne-Yo, who himself is the closest thing we have to a young Michael Jackson (R.I.P.). More than any song on the album it’s Starting All Over that makes me hopeful about Jeremih’s future. It proves he has true musical depth, the ability to craft a song, not just make a hot track. Now a thousand things could happen between now and the hypothetical future success I’m predicting for Jeremih. He could knock up a former For the Love of Ray-J contestant and get his own reality show. He could start hanging out with Bobby Brown and pick up a drug habit. Or worse, he could decide to start chasing popular trends instead of creating them, diluting his music with focus groups and blatant please for radio love. But unless he changes his name to J-Homicide and catches a case, Jeremih’s got as bright an R&B future as anyone. Here’s hoping he gets there.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 06/29/09
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Birthday Sex" (2008)
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