Jeremih has had a few whirlwind years, and if he ever needed proof that perspective is essential, he has it now.
The Chicago singer is in the midst of a musical renaissance brought on, in part, by almost losing his life. In late 2020, he contracted a case of COVID-19 so serious he had to be admitted to the ICU. From there, extensive tests were run on him as his life was in the balance.
During an interview with BET.com, the “Down On Me” artist detailed how serious his then-situation developed, including the lack of ability to even speak or walk.
“It was life-changing to me because I'm waking up not even knowing where I'm at. They had a tube down my throat so I couldn't even speak when they were trying to explain to me what was going on,” Jeremih recalls. “Mind you, the day I had checked myself in all I remember is I'm taking my vitals and then nothing else after that, that night. So waking up to that I had to learn how to walk again, just go to the bathroom when I thought I could because I didn't get why I couldn't walk.”
He also adds that music wasn’t even in his thoughts at the time – it was all about survival.
“I didn't really care about no music. Of course, being in there, it was kind of difficult because of the restrictions of COVID, they didn't allow people to be in there with me so I was in there by myself. None of my loved ones or anybody could come to visit me, I'm in there under an alias name,” Jeremih describes. “It's things like that where even post COVID [I’m] going through rehabilitation and everyday life and dialysis. Being so young, it kind of made me want to live life and appreciate it a little more because those are typically things that older people go through or have to go through.”
Jeremih says fellow Chicagoan and friend Chance The Rapper was a big supporter of his and kept up with him while he was in the hospital, offering spiritual guidance and more.
“He was instrumental and even around this time of the year. Being that he's one of the only few other artists that actually still live in Chicago, we've always put out this project called Merry Christmas Lil' Mama that we started about four years ago, and then it just happened to just be annually,” he details. “When I spoke with him and he prayed, a lot of things. I just didn’t care about music when it came to it. He was very instrumental in helping me with my road to recovery for sure.”
The scary situation was something that Jeremih was fortunate enough to get through, and with that new outlook on life, he used it as inspiration to take on a reintroduction of his music career. He also says he feels like there’s a void in R&B in regard to male singers who make the type of music he’s famous for.
“I think right now it's just been a void of just real R&B. A lot of singers just kind of like fake rapping and a lot of rappers kind of took the place of the singers and they just more kind of melodic joints. I just felt the need to create a little bit right now, just show a little vulnerability,” he explains.
It’s been a decade since Jeremih dropped his star-studded, classic mixtape Late Nights With Jeremih and seven since the release of the album form of the project, Late Nights: The Album, which featured mega-hits like "Don't Tell 'Em", “Planez” and “Oui”. While he notes that it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long since he’s dropped a full-length studio LP, now is the time for him to continue on creating.
In October, Jeremih released the song and video for “Changes” – a mix of his vintage prose that details the evolution of a relationship and the difficulties of navigating it. It’s refreshingly him and the perfect song for cuffing season.
“I just feel like it's the season right now,” Jeremih explains. ‘I don't know why, it be something in the air coming around like October, November,” [I’m creating], especially for myself, but not only that, but R&B I think is necessary to me, so I just thought it was good time to try to fill in the gap.”
Jeremih reveals he has a new album that he’s almost finished with, which he says is something that follows him around during his day-to-day just waiting for the timer to buzz.
“I like to call it old gold, you know gold don’t get old in other words,” he explains, noting that he’s still working with producer Hitmaka. “So there’s this record I got on my phone that when I hear it back I think it could still be cohesive to really how I want people to hear me like on how I feel right now and just put it with that. That's all I've been doing, just kind of stirring the pot. It's like a crockpot – you smell it but everything is still not done, but we’re getting close to it.”
As for how he records in 2022, Jeremih explains that he goes through his creative process at night, when the outside world is often quiet so he’s able to focus on song structure, lyrics and more. It’s something he’s done since breaking onto the scene years ago when he recorded his biggest hits.
“I find a lot of times I record when I don't have no distractions, so usually that's at night. I'm a real night owl,” he says, recalling back to the times when he recorded his debut mixtape. “When I started really finding myself and realizing why I felt like I was here. In my first album, I was just going for what I knew, but at that time, I think that's when I knew why. I got to know myself and even vocally what I was capable of doing at that time.”
And it’s not just his own music that’s keeping him going. On Lil Baby’s recently-released album It’s Only Me, Jeremih makes an appearance on the song “Stop Playin” – a slower, ethereal jam that reminds fans of the voice they’ve been missing for quite a few years in a consistent capacity. It’s a collaboration the singer says was a spur of the moment and one he didn’t believe would make the Atlanta rapper’s latest LP because of the brief amount of time he actually spent recording it.
“His house in L.A. is not too far from mine and one of my homies Bongo ByTheWay – he's a producer I frequently collaborate with – was just saying that he was headed to his house. So we got there, I know Murda Beatz was there as well, and I just pulled up. It had to have been like 4 a.m. and they had pulled up that beat. I was like, man let me just take one shot, one take and then I never revisited it,” Jeremih describes. “So I'm hearing it back to just see what I did at that time – about a year ago – so I just left that take and they hit me back and I’m thinking I have to [add more to it] to be honest with you because I knew I just left one take, but they made something out of that and I got to hear it back. I’m so glad, especially what he ended up doing to it.”
Looking forward to 2023, Jeremih’s new album is expected to be on its way. He also says he wants to delve more into acting, which he’s gained experience doing over the past few years.
“I gave it a try with Power, shout out to [50 Cent]. I was on [Power Book IV: Force] and luckily they were filming in Chicago, which, at that time I had just got out of the hospital too, so when they hit me, I auditioned, and everything it was my first time really on screen,” he recalls. “I had to learn my chops on there because it isn’t as easy as a mic to me, but after days of being around my peers, I felt like I got the hang of it. So that led to what's going on now, which you’ll be able to see at the top of the year.”