The YouTube comment sections of Jeremih’s music videos overflow with people voicing explicit desires. “I wanna get fucked to Jeremih’s songs.” “If I ever have a girl by me, I’d play this song whenever it feels like a perfect time to be romantic honestly.” These quotes are only a small selection of the thousands of comments requesting to be squeezed, licked, and caressed. And who can blame them? Ever since his breakout single “Birthday Sex,” Jeremih has proven himself as the ultimate seductive crooner who listeners simply don’t want to leave alone.
A nearly constant presence on mainstream radio stations, Jeremih is releasing the final installment of his Late Nights album series, Later That Night, this summer. The first two parts of the trilogy are Late Nights: The Album, a record The New York Times called “gleefully debaucherous,” and Late Nights: Europe, where each song is titled after a place Jeremih visited during his European tour. In between these two albums and the upcoming Later That Night record, Jeremih also released a 2016 Christmas mixtape with Chance the Rapper under the cheeky title Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama.
Although Jeremih utilizes both rap and singing in his music, it’s his bold, silky vocals that intrigue listeners and set him apart from the dozens of other R&B artists who promise to ride it slow and give it to her good. His voice exudes an easy confidence, whether he’s hitting warm mid-range notes or playing with falsetto. The self-assured nonchalance of Jeremih’s vocals takes the edge off of his assertive lyrics, making lines like “On your knees in your Prada’s / Makin’ freaky shit come up out her” in “Planez” suddenly sound benign and romantic. Additionally, he keeps instrumentals to a minimum, using only touches of electronic harp or guitar to supplement his pristine vocals. These small details keep his song production sounding unfussy and clean, and serve as contrast to Jeremih’s elegantly alluring voice.
At 8:30 p.m., Saturday, July 29, at the Regency Ballroom. $30-$45; theregencyballroom.com
A Tribe Called Red
DJ NDN of the Nipissing First Nation, 2oolman, a Mohawk of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and Bear Witness of the Cayuga First Nation are all indigenous DJs from Ottawa, Ontario. Together, they are A Tribe Called Red, the EDM producers who fuse dubstep and traditional First Nations music to create the genre “powwow-step.”
A Tribe Called Red has released three albums and four EPs, was awarded Junos (Canada’s highest music accolade) for Breakthrough Group of the Year, Electronic Album of the Year, and Video of the Year, and is single-handedly expanding the electronic music genre to encompass First Nations musical influence. But before they were an officially formed group, A Tribe Called Red got their start throwing parties in Ottawa, playing music they thought would appeal to the indigenous community. Incorporating reverberating drums and chanting samples into their mixes, the three knew they had made music that would connect with their Ottawan audience, but had no idea that their sound would eventually gain popularity with outside audiences and the larger electronic dance scene. Speaking to NPR, Bear Witness comments, “To have this reaction from non-indigenous people as well, you know, this overwhelming reaction from people outside of the community, was very unexpected.”
While intended to be listened to in a partying, dance-floor setting, A Tribe Called Red’s music also contemplates themes such as the repression of aboriginal rights and the still-prevalent effects of colonialism. In “ALie Nation,” guest rapper John Trudell excoriates the materialism of hegemonic society, mocking the notion that “All the things of the earth and in the sky / Have energy to be exploited.” Likewise, “Burn Your Village to the Ground,” which was released right before Thanksgiving in 2014, reminds listeners of the real, un-idyllic relationship between Native Americans and Pilgrims. A Tribe Called Red, in a powerful role reversal for aboriginal representatives, is breaking ground on the frontier of Western music and culture.
With Judo No at 8:30 p.m., Thursday, July 27, at the Independent. $20-$22; theindependentsf.com
Portugal. The Man
To hear lead singer John Gourley describe Portugal. The Man’s musical style, one would think that the band’s vision is unfocused and disparate. “Portugal. The Man to me doesn’t have any real ties. We try to change things up with every album, really progress and let things happen,” he says in an interview with Pop Matters. “There’s nothing specific about the band, which is, I think, why we’ve become a rock band. Rock ’n’ roll isn’t the hippest thing right now, but we’re just kind of in the middle of it.”
But don’t be fooled by Gourley’s humble, off-handed remarks. Contrary to the nonspecific, unhip image that he depicts, the band composes cohesive albums that invigorate the rock genre with their yearning, nearly frenetic sound. In an era when artists are becoming increasingly obsessed with cranking out singles and jumping on the candified hip-hop bandwagon, Portugal. The Man does neither, yet continues to rise in popularity and critical acclaim. Just this past June, “Feel It Still,” the charged uptempo track from the band’s most recent album Woodstock, climbed to the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Alternative Songs listing. Featuring a groovy, rumbling bass and Gourley’s impossibly high vocals, “Feel It Still” exemplifies the paradox of Portugal. The Man. The song, like the rest of Woodstock, attracts a massive following that seems counterintuitive given the band’s tendency to resist popular music tropes. Woodstock is a raucous album, full of moments where guitar, drums, bass, and keyboards all collide in a chaotic swirl of sound. Most notably, songs like “Easy Tiger” and “Rich Friends” embody a grittiness not usually demonstrated in rock with such broad audiences (looking at you, Coldplay).
But maybe it is actually this atypical grittiness that resonates with listeners. The roughness of Portugal. The Man’s music speaks to the way in which the band bares themselves, edges and all, in their songs, and perhaps such unaffected expression touches an audience so used to artists’ glossy exteriors. Either way, Portugal. The Man exposes their inner emotional turmoil and continues to forge, not follow, the trends that dominate rock music and beyond.
With Local Natives at 7 p.m., Friday, July 28, at the Greek Theatre. $45; thegreektheatreberkeley.com