Merry Christmas from Chance The Rapper and Jeremih. Chicago’s favorite sons just released a Christmas album with two new songs, mere days after Jeremih came close to dying from COVID.
One week after being released from the hospital following a near-fatal COVID battle, Jeremih and his fellow Chicagoan, Chance The Rapper, dropped Merry Christmas Lil Mama: The Gift That Keeps On Giving. The album, released on Dec. 11, collects the pair’s previous Merry Christmas Lil Mama volumes and shares two new songs: “The Return” and “Who’s To Say.” Chance shared “The Return” two days before the release (an early Christmas present) and “Who’s To Say,” which both exemplify Chance The Rapper and Jeremih’s mastery of poetry whether that’s through fun rhymes or beautiful messages that go deeper than the usual “Jingle Bell Rock” type of holiday tune.
On “The Return,” Chance gets playful while using rhymes to rap about the Grinch that would even make Dr. Seuss jealous. “Yo, it’s the return of the Gifted Gifter / The Secret Santa grab-bag sifter / The Grinch, sleigh hanging off the ledge deadlifter,” Chance raps in the first verse, while he opens “Who’s To Say” on a more emotional note amid this season of family time and gatherings: “Love is the casualty of war / My little cousin thought that I ain’t love him anymore /Nothin’ could be farther from the truth.” Jeremih’s sultry R&B voice is the perfect complement to Chance’s fun cadence, turning this into a one-of-a-kind holiday album.
Jeremih, who is best known for the 2009 song “Birthday Sex,” was hospitalized in November after coming down with the COVID-19 coronavirus. He was transferred to an intensive care unit (ICU) and put on a ventilator to help him breathe. The 33-year-old’s struggle was “rare for a young man his age without underlying conditions,” his family said in a statement, per CNN. In late November, he recovered enough to be transferred out of ICU. He was released from the hospital on Dec. 5.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank God and the incredible team of doctors and nurses at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for saving my life. I will be forever grateful,” said Jeremih in a statement to Billboard. “I would also like to thank my family and friends for all their prayers and well wishes. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. A special thanks to Chance The Rapper, 50 Cent, and Diddy for their love and support. I would also like to thank all my fans and people around the world who prayed for me. I’m getting stronger every day, and look forward to spending time with my sons.”
Jeremih was sick with COVID. He got really, really sick in the past couple of weeks, and he just was released from the hospital the other day. He’s made an amazing recovery. Thank God,” Chance said during the Dec. 8 episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, per the Chicago Tribune. “It’s an awesome thing. We’ve been wanting to put this (album) out for a long time.”
Merry Christmas Lil Mama: The Gift That Keeps On Giving collects Merry Christmas: Lil Mama Vol 1 (2016) and Vol 2 (2017), per Variety, and this “special collection” is “a gift to the fans celebrating the Holidays and New Year and will be available for the first time ever across all streaming platforms,” according to an announcement. “To celebrate and express a moment of gratefulness for Jeremih’s recovery on December 4, Chance and Jeremih started to liven up the Holiday season with the release of their Christmas track ‘Are U Live’ from the album (which was recorded, and the video was filmed, in 2017).”
It’s been a relatively quiet 2020 for Chance The Rapper. He performed at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in a tribute to Kobe Bryant. Music-wise, he released “Found You” with Ludacris, teamed with Brandy for “Baby Mama” off her B7 album, and reunited with Justin Bieber for “Holy.” He was also sued by his former manager, Pat Corcoran, who claimed he was owed $3 million in unpaid commissions, per the Chicago Tribune.