This fall, The FADER traveled to Chicago and caught up with Jeremih at his childhood home on the far south side of the city. The singer introduced us to his uncle, "swagerian" grandfather, and niece Zara, and showed us around the studio where he made "Birthday Sex." When that single was released in 2008, Jeremih was still studying recording engineering at Columbia College Chicago, and riding a two-hour bus commute every day to his morning classes.
We rode along with Jeremih as he retraced that old bus trip from his grandpa's house to his alma matter. He walked a bridge over the highway, stopped for a Tamarind sno-cone, and shook hands with strangers along the way. Some folks recognized him, and some didn't.
"To be on the bus right now and people look at me and know me is different, too. Cause back then they'd just heard me, they didn't know me," he explained from a seat at the back. "It's a city full of hate. Like, he could have said 'Yo, who is y'all?'"
"It's hard to really tell who's really got your best interest. So as much as I look out for [my family], I feel like I'm supposed to," he continued. "Family's first. Family's everything. They're gonna hold you down before anybody else that don't care about you, really." At the holidays, after a rough year, no words ring more true.