BJ The Chicago Kid hails from the music scene of Chitown with a voice that effortlessly blends elements of R&B, soul and gospel. Drawing inspiration from legendary artists such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Sam Cooke, he honed his craft and developed a unique sound that resonates with listeners on a deep level. His journey in the music industry thus far has been marked by several notable collaborations and achievements. He has worked with artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and Anderson .Paak, showcasing his versatility and ability to seamlessly blend genres. His collaborations have solidified his position as a sought-after collaborator and respected artist in his own right. From standout tracks like "Church," "Turnin' Me Up," and "Time Today," BJ The Chicago Kid has consistently delivered soul-stirring music that resonates with audiences worldwide. His lyrics delve into themes of love, relationships, and personal growth, offering a relatable and introspective perspective. BJ's new album, Gravy, will be his first album released under RCA Records since leaving Motown Records and includes fire features from artists like Chloe Bailey, Coco Jones, Freddie Gibbs, and more.
BJ The Chicago Kid joins EBONY for a conversation about his new album, singing background vocals for Mary Mary and how R&B isn't dead.
EBONY: Some people might not know you got your first major industry job singing background for the gospel group Mary Mary. How did that come full circle?
BJ The Chicago Kid: A friend had put that together for me. He actually moved out to LA where Mary Mary was at the time. He was their musical director and he told me that they had an opening for the male singer position. I was already planning to move to LA anyway. So it worked out perfectly that way.
Some popular artists are saying that R&B is dead. What’s your take on the current state of the genre?
I feel like it never was dead, it's doing just fine to me. I think it's supposed to evolve. If it wasn't doing good the person that said R&B was dead would’ve never tried to make a R&B album. That's crazy. Obviously something isn't dead, there's something you like about it I think R&B has been doing great. I think it matures by itself and the things around hip-hop continue to push the walls and the barriers of R&B music too. We admire that sound, we want those certain samples too, it's certain elements that touch us and we want to integrate that into our music as well. It's not just what we go through but it's the genres that's around us that helped it evolve in a dope way.
You released your last album 1123 in 2019 while being signed to Motown Records. Can you share the details behind your decision to move to RCA Records?
I'm an artist. I'm always going to release music, that’s what I do. So it's like nothing else is about to take that place -- other things will be added to it -- but dropping music will kind of be with me for the rest of my life. The RCA Records situation was because of Yeti Beats and that's where his musical home is and doing this project with him. That's how we ended up RCA Records.
What can people expect from your new album Gravy? What inspired the title?
The title was pretty much just understanding what the new feeling is. The new "IT" factor, the new name for the feeling that you have when you're the most confident. But it's that feeling every day, it's not fading out of that. Gravy pretty much is the thing that smothers, covers all that you know, but it's pretty much the essence of that confidence, that soulful feeling.
You have a feature with Philip Bailey from Earth Wind & Fire. How was it to collaborate with him on this album?
It was super fun, that was our second time working together. We worked together with Travis Scott "Stop trying to be God." After that we ended up linking back up in the studio with The Isley Brothers. We actually did the next song together for the one on my project.