Reportedly recorded in 2 weeks, Late Nights: Europe is a polished, 14-track libertine manifesto, wrapping up a trilogy of odes to the grown and sexy. Featuring Ty Dolla $ign, Wiz Khalifa, and more.
After celebrating his 29th birthday with a set at the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago, hometown hero Jeremih hinted at some new music, which arrived last Wednesday in the form of Late Nights: Europe. Jeremih Felton has been rather bounteous in recent times, adding this mixtape to his discography just a few months after Late Nights: the Album dropped in December 2015. The latter project was his third bonafide studio effort, for those who observe the distinction strictly, trailing 2010’s All About You by five years. Europe materialized at light speed by comparison. Reportedly recorded in two weeks, it’s a polished, 14-track libertine manifesto. Following 2012’s Late Nights with Jeremih and the Album, Europe wraps up a trilogy of odes to the grown and sexy.
The tape’s title indicates a concept, insofar as our protagonist still thrives in the hours after the after party. Rather than a sudden desire to sing over French touch beats, the Europe of it all denotes location—recording sessions took place during the overseas stops of his summer tour. Even then the application is loose, as opener “Dubai” proves that he’s limited by neither geography nor genre. With assists from K Camp and Wiz Khalifa, the trio rides on trap-inspired drum patterns laced with a twinkling piano riff, and we get reacquainted with Rapping Jeremih.
This braggart alter ego shows up again on “Lebanon,” “Amsterdam” and “Oslo, Norway,” flexing with a morning-after rasp in his voice, worn and torn during wild nights on stage and in pursuit of overwhelming women. The production, courtesy of Soundz on all but two songs, provides the perfect backdrop for him to hone his delivery, which is at times reminiscent of the drawling, yelping flow that’s currently in style. Think more Atlanta, less Brandenburg, although track three “Berlin (She Wit It)” is noteworthy for an irresistibly simple refrain that you can find yourself mumbling at random moments during the day.
Unsurprisingly, the best songs are the ones that showcase Singing Jeremih and his velvety voice. “Czech Republic,” a love song with a soft-core slant, is the standout track for that reason. There must be something in the Nordic air: because two of the tape’s winners are “Copenhagen” and the raunchier “Stockholm.” Pillow talk is present throughout but “Paris (Who Taught You)” is essentially sonic porn, thanks to Ty Dolla $ign.
Their collaborations are studies in lewd one-upmanship, with Ty Dolla $ign usually winning. But that’s a huge part of Dolla’s brand, an arguably more knowable one than Jeremih’s. Notoriety in post-Internet pop culture comes from either persistent productivity, or commitment to a level of visibility that generates interest—even in the absence of creative output. Jeremih’s approach lies somewhere in between these two modi operandi.
He’s constant, if not necessarily prolific, while revealing very little of himself via today’s most social media channels. You recognize him from the hook of that one song, and he has independently parlayed his immense talent into platinum-selling triumphs, but he still remains something of an enigma. Jeremih almost never releases videos to accompany his singles, and through your mind’s eye it’s hard to picture his face without sunglasses on—like a less rambunctious Lil’ Jon. On “British Headboardz,” a hazy slow jam complete with bed squeaks that would make Trillville blush, his ideal companion is one who knows that there’s no “a” in his name.
This harks back to 2009’s “Birthday Sex,” Jeremih’s cheeky breakthrough single that was popular long before everyone learned how to pronounce his name properly. His sound has evolved a lot since then, perhaps as a conscious effort to rebrand away from that single, but undoubtedly because of the lifestyle change that followed its chart success. If the Album was the realization of his new sound, Europe was his chance to experiment with it away from the label pressures that hounded his previous release.
It’s rare to go through trials without error—the juke-riffing “Belgium (Get Down)” ends up sounding like a reference track in context. But the fault for any missteps on Europe lies for the most part with the tape’s supporting players. Verses from the Game and Krept & Konan are superfluous, although the dancehall-tinged “London” is all the better for a coquettish appearance by Stefflon Don. Fame has taken Jeremih to many different places this summer, and his openness to creative inspiration in far-flung cities has paid off. If this is what he came up with in a fortnight, running on what couldn’t have been much sleep, the wait for what he does next should be worth it.