Song of the week Jeremih - 773 Love [Self-release] Why an ode to the booty call by one of Chicago’s most interesting R&B singers tucked away on a mixtape deserves to be a pop classic.
The song is basically about a booty call, its title referring to the area and calling code of the singer’s native Chicago. The fact that it’s from the city is significant too, for both the ultra-local, almost claustrophobic feel of the track and the influence of R. Kelly. Kelly’s trademark style – ornate vocal and instrumental flourishes, carnal themes and a close attention to form – runs through to current favourites like The-Dream and The Weeknd. Jeremih doesn’t have really the all-round talent of the former or the carefully developed identity of the latter but he does have a fantastic voice and an ear for a hit.
There are traces of Jeremih’s debut hit single Birthday Sex on 773 Love but he’s altogether more insistent here. He’s trying to seduce but he’s yearning and the vocal delivery is either on the verge of breaking or reciting the chorus in a muffled, robotic tone. The backing is sleek but, in true Mike Will fashion, cloudy and slightly off-kilter with over-wrought instrumentation documenting the narrative’s passionate bluster.
Jeremih’s voice remains pained but perfectly poised as the organ behind him crashes but the real killer comes in the final seconds of the song when the gloss falls away and he gives in to the messy infidelity of the whole affair. The ropey metaphors and limp come-ons turn into open admissions (“OK, girl I’m not him”) and disdain (“Cause I know you’re a little freak, let it out”). The dark underbelly of R&B’s sheen has always been explored by its best artists and it’s even become a key theme in itself more recently but Jeremih uses the promise of pop l-u-v from the main part of the song to fully reveal its hollow frame at the close. 773 Love is a brilliant, contradictory song that captures the highs and lows of modern courtship with honesty and a welcome touch of irony.