"L.A. Reid, I'd heard so much about him," the singer — who was named a Fire Starter in Mixtape Daily last month — told MTV News. "I knew about him and Babyface [with whom Reid founded LaFace Records]. The day of my showcase, I didn't even know which one was him. I walked in the room, it was 30 people in there. I was looking around like, 'OK ...' I was nervous at first, but after I seen people's reactions — I started with 'Birthday Sex' and ended it with 'Starting All Over' — they had their eyes closed. I felt like I reached them through the music."
Reid and Def Jam had heard about Jeremih and his "Birthday Sex" record, which was buzzing in his native Chicago last winter. The singer came to the label with a bunch of records for his demo and some of the tunes eventually wound up on his self-titled debut, which will premiere on the Billboard albums chart at #6 next week.
"I feel like [Reid] recognized it wasn't a one-song type of demo," Jeremih said. "Especially something with 'Birthday Sex,' you couldn't come up with something to back that up, one would think, but it's just one song off the album. I wouldn't say it's my favorite song off of the album; he just chose it first [to be released]. Once he heard that song, and hearing me sing it [live] ... I'm sure he recognized that, after hearing that and other songs on the album that are real soul ballads, I love making music."
The youngster has been making music since he was single digits in age.
"My whole family is musically inclined," said the crooner, who fine-tuned his musical skills in Chicago's Morgan Park High School marching band. He became adept at the saxophone and multiple percussion instruments. "For Christmas, I'd get games, like Super Nintendo, but I'd also get instruments. I got my first drum set at [age] 2 or 3 and I was busting heads. I'd be up late nights just going hard. I began to get rhythm. I began playing to the radio, just the same as learning the keys and learning the songs off the radio with that. I don't even think; I just do."
Jeremih has just been added to the Young Money Presents America's Most Wanted tour this summer with Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, Drake and Soulja Boy. His next single is slated to be "I'm a Star."