R&B crooner Jeremih seems to lead something of a double life. On one hand, he has brought his distinctive, reedy tenor to numerous radio hits. On the other, he’s released a series of adventurous mixtapes that reveal a taste for smoky, experimental minimalism that place him squarely in R&B’s vanguard. Born Jeremy Philip Felton on Chicago’s South Side in 1987, Jeremih didn’t start out as a singer—he played drums in his church band and went to college to study engineering. But music called him away, and his first serious stab at singing broke into the charts: 2009’s seductive bedroom jam “Birthday Sex.” He released two albums in quick succession, 2009’s Jeremih and 2010’s All About You, that saw him following in the footsteps of sultry singers like Usher and R. Kelly. But those albums, enjoyable as they were, couldn’t predict the turn Jeremih would take just a few years later. In 2012 he released the mixtape Late Nights With Jeremih, a sleeper cult hit that saw him demolishing distinctions between alternative and mainstream R&B with the help of a stable of left-field producers. He kept it up on 2014’s No More EP with the genre-defying L.A. producer Shlohmo, and in 2016 he released the quietly miraculous mixtape Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama with Chance the Rapper. But 2015’s Late Nights brought those two personas together, delivering bangers like “Don’t Tell ’Em” while establishing, along with 2018’s MIH-TY (a collaboration with Ty Dolla $ign), his bona fides as one of the most playful and unpredictable characters in modern R&B.
BORNJuly 17, 1987