At first I assumed Jeremih would be a one-hit wonder. Even after he signed to Def Jam, I just thought it would be too hard for him to rise above being the "guy who did that Birthday Sex song." And so I only half-paid attention to his career until, and I'm not entirely sure why, I decided to listen to his Late Nights mixtape and instantly became a fan. The man could sing, he had that rare ability to blend melody into catchy hooks, and best of all, it was music you could actually fuck to.
Let's not overestimate what a rare thing music you can actually fuck to is. Most of the music that alleges to be "sexy" is only about sex, not actually sexy. In music videos women start disrobing when Ginuwine start singing, but in real life, (most) actual women are going to laugh in your face if you turn down the lights, pull them close and then the sound of "My Pony" fills the room. If she's really into you she'll just make you turn off the music instead of calling you an Uber.
That's why actually sexy songs, songs that can really soundtrack real sex between two (or more) real people in real life, are so valueable. It's why I always keep a D'Angelo x Marsha Ambrosius x Minnie Riperton playlist on deck, and what really got me into the Late Nights mixtape. The appropriately titled "Fuck You All the Time," "Go To The Mo," "Rated R" and more were all songs that could inspire some legitimate conjoining of genitalia. Music with that kind of specific power wasn't to be taken lightly, and so I waited for the album, and waited, and waited...
At this point Jeremih's crushingly long album delay is well documented. Def Jam seemed bizarrely disinterested in releasing an album from a singer-songwriter who was cranking out hit single after hit single, but now that the album is finally here, I don't really care about label politics. And truth be told, when it comes to Jeremih, I don't really care about radio singles or grand artists intentions. All I want to know is, can I fuck to it though?
Let's find out.
"Planes" (ft. J. Cole) - No
Goddamnit Jermaine. "Planes" could have been a definite yes. That bouncing production is appropriately hypnotic, Jeremih breaks out some great falsetto, and then J. Cole shows up like and kills the mood faster than a knock on the door from your mom. No one's trying to have sex while J. Cole sings about dick-foots laughing at his own jokes about leaving his "kids" on her couch. Goddamnit, Jermaine.
"Pass Dat" - Yes(ish)
This one is a situational yes. If it's your anniversary and there's champagne poured and you light some classy Pier 1 imports candles, you're gonna want to pass, it's not the right energy. But if you just came home from a party still too hyped to sleep and you're trying to unwind by smoking and engaging in adult activities, then sure, by all means, pass dat.
"Impatient" (ft. Ty Dolla $ign) - Yes
It isn't good enough to seal the deal, but if you're already doing thangs (not "things," I mean "thangs"), it's going to keep the mood going, which is crucial. There's nothing worse than an album with three Yes songs in a row then a No. What, do you untangle yourself from that sweet reverse cherry stem position to reach over an hit the skip button? Keep going and nervously hope she doesn't notice? You need songs like "Impatient."
"Oui" - Yes
Like "Pass Dat" it's a little too uptempo for a slow burner session, and like "Impatient" it serves as more of a mood-maintainer than a mood-enhancer, but I'll take it. For those keeping score, that's concievably three Yes songs in a row, so you could easily press play and get down to business without having to change a thing. Just make sure you start the album after "Planes" or goddamnit Jermaine's going to ruin the goddamn party before it even starts.
"Drank" - Yes
Yes, without reservation, yes. I mean, if your bae is Amish and you think they'd be uncomfortable with all the references to drugs and alcohol then maybe it's a pass, but if you're Amish and having sex while listening to Late Nights you've got bigger problems than some song lyrics. I say relax, turn up the volume and get to churning butter, if you catch my drift.
"Giv No Fuks" (ft. Migos) - No
Goddamnit Migos. Goddamnit.
"Feel Like Phil" - Yes(ish)
One of those songs that isn't really about sex at all, but the vibe still works. Assuming you skipped that Migos song, you should be pretty deep into it by the time "Feel Like Phil" comes on. So quick test; if Jeremih sings "I did a song with 50 Cent" and you start wondering what song he's referring to, that means the sex isn't very good. You should be far more focused on the task at hand than music trivia. The music can only do so much, the rest is up to you. Be better.
"Royalty" (ft. Big Sean & Future) - No
Here's really the question - what rapper's voice do I want to hear while having sex? A rap verse on a R&B song is a time-tested way to get on radio, but for these purposes (you know, the purpose of fucking) it almost always ruins the mood. Getting lost in some mellow instrumental and then hearing a rapper is like hearing your college dorms roommate fumbling for his keys outside the door. Doesn't he see the rubberband on the doorknob, that's the secret "do not enter" signal. HOW DO YOU NOT SEE THE RUBBERBAND???
In that sense Future's verse still works here because he's not really rapping, but Big Sean rapping about putting his finger in a butt (that's a verbatim quote) completely kills the mood. I wish I could put a rubberband around "Royalty" so Big Sean would know not to come in. Goddamnit Big Sean.
"I Did" (ft. Feather) - Yes
See, is that so hard? An unqualified yes on this one, it's slow but not lethargic, about sex without crossing the line into audio-porn, I was a little worried that Feather would turn out to be some deep-voiced dude rapping, but nope, she sounds exactly like what you'd expect someone named Feather would sound like. I wouldn't put this one on with a brand new bae, but like three months in, when the sex is still really exciting but doesn't have all that "brand new" pressure and you're both really comfortable but you're still not entirely sure if she likes being spanked so you just kind of lightly hit her ass in this way where you can do it more if she says she likes it but can play it off as an accident if she doesn't, this is the soundrack to that period.
"Actin' Up" - Yes
I got a little panicked when I heard the acoustic guitar in the beginning - sweet baby Jesus no Jeremih, please, don't try to an earnest love ballad that inevitably becomes corny, that's not your lane - but nope, this one's about sex, and it's great. Maybe the most pure, without hesitation, unqualfied yes of the album so far.
"Remember Me" - Yes(ish)
Like "Feel Like Phil," this is a song that if you're not listening to the lyrics works perfectly, but if you are listening to the lyrics is kind of strange to fuck to considering it's a break-up song, but also if you're closely to the lyrics that's a problem. In other words, if this one's a No, that's really on you.
"Don't Tell 'Em" (ft. YG) - No
Listen, I know why this song's here, it's the biggest hit of Jeremih's career and the perfect song to get the club moving. But with all due respect to Usher I'm not in the club, I'm in a two-bedroom apartment, so it's a pass. Best case scenario this is the song that lets you meet someone in the club that you later end up playing "Actin Up" for, and then three months later playing "I Did" for. But come on, the chances of you ending up in a long-term relationship based on meeting someone in the club while "Don't Tell 'Em" was playing are slimmer than Slim Jesus on a Nutra-Slim diet.
"Woosah" (ft. Juicy J & Twista) - No
At this point you should already see it coming...goddamnit Juicy J and Twista. Goddamnit. This is an absolutely perfect song until those two show up, although in fairness, if it was just Twista it could still work. His flow is so rythmic it's more like an instrument, if someone has to rap while I'm sliding into home, Twista's up there. Kanye picked him for "Slow Jamz" for a reason, which fittingly was basically an entire song about this article.
"Worthy" (ft. Jhené Aiko) - Yes
As we saw with Feather it's always a good idea to get a women's voice on a song. Think about it this way. If you're at a party surrounded by five of your guy friends, what woman is going to approach you? But if a woman sees that your friends with Jhene Aiko she'll be like, "I like Jhene Aiko, if she co-signs him that guy's probably worth talking to." So playing "Worthy" is a subtle, subconcious way of making her feel like Jhene Aiko co-signs you. There's levels to this, get on my level. [Belated Note: I'm a straight guy so that's the sexual world I know, but feel free to swap the pronouns here for any gender of your choosing. Truly good sex music doesn't care who you have sex with, it just wants you to have good sex.]
"Paradise" - No
The borderline corny acoustic guitar song I was afraid "Actin Up" would be? This is that song. Although I do recognize that artists traditionally use the last song on their album to go against type. If a gangster rapper has a song about loving their mother on their album, there's a good chance it's going to be the last song. Similiarly, Jeremih apparently wanted at least one truly emotional song, but he didn't want to screw up the flow for those who were trying to fuck while it played. I appreciate that Jeremih, good looking out. "Paradise" is still a no though.
So in summary, nine out of fifteen of the songs on Late Nights are a Yes, and at least two of those No's could become a Yes by removing a rap verse in ProTools, which is a pretty impressive average. It's not D'Angelo Voodoo territory, but it's all I could have reasonably expected and a little more. I don't know how well this album will sell (it's projected to sell 10k first week units), I don't know if this album will earn Jeremih any awards, but I do know you can fuck to it, and really, what else matters?
[By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.