Not even severe storms and flash flood warnings could keep Jeremih away from a boat party.
Battling the sky’s growling gray backdrop, Pepsi and iHeartRadio kicked off their summer partnership aboard New York’s Hornblower Infinity yacht on Monday (June 1) with performances by the Chicago native, Flo Rida and Prince Royce.
Fans who won tickets through giveaways by New York’s Power 105.1, Z100, 103.5 KTU and 106.7 Lite FM stations braved the inclement weather to board the boat, which finally disembarked when the worst of the storm had subsided.
After delivering rousing renditions of “Don’t Tell Em,” and “Somebody,” as well as his evergreen breakout hit “Birthday Sex,” Jeremih joined Flo Rida for the first live performance of their recent collaboration “Tonight Belongs to U!”
Billboard caught up with the Def Jam signee to discuss Late Nights‘s scheduled July release and how singles trump albums in today’s hip-hop market.
How are you doing?
I’m chilling man. We had a little difficulty getting out here due to New York weather, but I’m not mad. I haven’t actually been on a boat in a storm before, so this is a first.
You came from Chicago?
Yeah I came from there this morning. We actually have something to do with 50 Cent tomorrow. I’m on his new single featuring 2Chainz and T.I. as well. That’s one of the home dogs.
How did you get involved with him? What’s working with him like?
I’d say out of the whole entertainment business, he’s probably been more like a mentor to myself. I met him by default I would say, because I did a record with Lloyd Banks called “I Don’t Deserve You,” and it actually did pretty well. So I was like “man let’s reach out to 50 for this record of mine,” and I didn’t have a second verse ahead of the time. We just called down, and he did his verse. It’s been history ever since.
You also worked with Chance the Rapper on Surf. What was working with him like?
He is definitely one of a kind, man. He’s a music heir like myself. He’s from the home team — Chicago. And the record that’s on Surf is actually probably one of my most minimal appearances on the record, but it definitely works. That’s probably one of the louder records we did outside of Planes, Paradise and some other records we’ve done. I had no clue Sean was gonna hop on it, but that’s the type of things that Chance do — so I just sit back and watch.
And then you have your own album. It looks like its finally going to come out right?
This year I’ve been on tour with J. Cole, Big Sean and YG, so I just wanted to make sure — not that I couldn’t do it without it — because I’ve been able to finesse shows without actually dropping an album for five years. Now it’s definitely around that time to give people a whole body of work. I’ve accumulated some awesome sounds, some eclectic music, and I can’t wait ’til people hear it.
Was it frustrating dealing with delays?
No. See I never really was the one to post the release dates. I like releasing music in the summertime, because I have a lot of summer-feel records to my album. It’s around that time.
Talk a little bit about the state of the Chicago scene.
Man, it’s probably the most talented, yet… I don’t wanna say slept on, because everyone knows how dope of a talent Chicago is, and how we breed the greats of our generation. A lot of people are scared to come visit my hometown, but to me violence is everywhere man. It’s about staying out of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and it might sound crazy, but musically and on the Bulls side and the Blackhawks side, we got the greats man. I can’t wait ’til the world embraces Chicago — not only for our talent, but just to visit our city and not be so scared to come to it, and not be subjected to what people’s perception is of it. Don’t get me wrong, violence is everywhere to me. But I was born and raised there, and I know that’s what keeps a lot of people from coming to visit my city. Man, it’s definitely one of the greatest cities in the world.
You’ve managed to get as far as you have without a recent album. Is hip-hop going more towards a singles driven marker than it has been before?
Definitely. Last year, one of the representatives from Def Jam was like, sarcastically speaking, “You just wanna be a singles artist or you wanna put out an album?” Someone said that to me. Honestly I looked at him with a bit of a crazy face, because I was like, “You know what? I actually don’t mind being a singles artist.” Not that I feel like that’s what I am because I’ve always produced, to me, decent bodies of work. I’ve only dropped two outside of Late Nights, the mixtape, album-wise. I really see where music is going right now, what’s selling, and even when I do shows — I see just how quickly people can take records in the mind space. So if you just give them single after single after single with two verses and a hook, two verses and a hook — that’s good enough for them. They just wanna hear the hits, so I give them that.
Are there any misconceptions about you as an artist?
People are still kinda getting to know me. It messes me up sometimes when I go on stage and people say my name wrong. Say my name wrong with all these different syllables. I’ve heard everything. My name is easy as 1-2-3. Jer-eh-mih, syllable-wise. Once people have been around me for a while, and actually get to hear this new body of music, they won’t classify me as really anything, and just know that I don’t have a lane. I have all the lanes. I’m not driving in one lane. As long as they can ride with me, whether it’s passenger or the backseat, trust me I’ll get you to where we’re going.