Ever since releasing his first project “Pineapple Now Laters”, BJ The Chicago Kid has taken his career to new heights. From the Schoolboy Q collaboration “Studio” to his latest album “In My Mind”, the grind has not stopped for the Motown artist but BJ The Chicago Kid has continued to take on every challenge. As a result of that, he’s now headlining his own tour and established himself as one of the most recognized names in R&B currently. His music has gained him the respect of not only R&B fans, but Hip Hop fans too. We sat down with BJ The Chicago Kid recently to talk about his success and some of his upcoming projects including a duet with Marvin Gaye and a TV show called “Shots Fired”.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You’ve been on your “In My Mind World Tour” for a minute, so talk about how that’s going.
BJ The Chicago Kid: The tour is amazing. This is my first headlining tour and it’s a historical moment for me. It’s that moment to see who really rocks with me and the music because I’m the headliner. I get to see who comes and who doesn’t. It’s amazing and it’s pretty dope.
YouKnowIGotSoul: For a lot of R&B artists, they push their album during the first week of its release, but then the promo disappears after. You’ve continued to push your album since it came out, so what’s been the benefit of doing that?
BJ The Chicago Kid: This tour is the benefit of that. Using what you have always enhances what’s to come no matter if it’s an album, song, artwork or whatever. Using what you have is always creates more opportunities for the future.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Most recently, you released a duet with Marvin Gaye for “What’s Going On?”. How did that opportunity come about?
BJ The Chicago Kid: His estate called Motown to get in contact with me and that was an agreement between my label, lawyers and estate. It’s an honor to be honored by the people that I honor. That’s a pimp-ish way to say it. *Laughs* I honor Marvin Gaye and I’m sure I’m not the only one, but to do a duet with him on “What’s Going On?” with the original artwork and collector’s vinyl. I think that’s pretty cool for a kid that grew up on the South Side of Chicago. We don’t really get those types of opportunities and I definitely realize I’m blessed for sure.
YouKnowIGotSoul: “What’s Going On?” is a historical record, so how do you approach a song like that when you’re singing it?
BJ The Chicago Kid: You just do you like when you’re doing any other song. It’s nothing different. Some people are like “How’s it like working with Kendrick Lamar?” and really, it’s like working with anyone else that I work with. *Laughs* There’s no unicorns that pop out the ceiling and no glitter that pops out of my pocket. It’s just regular people in the studio doing what we do. It’s the same thing with that. I just sing the song and I sing it with conviction, meaning and I get into the mood of every song I do no matter how much time I have in between. I definitely get in the mood of every song to give you the feeling that you should have.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You’re associated with a lot of Hip Hop artists, but at your core you’re an R&B artist. What does R&B mean to you?
BJ The Chicago Kid: R&B is everything. Hip Hop, Soul, Gospel and Classical Blues are everything. All of that makes sense in BJ The Chicago Kid and what we do. Hip Hop has introduced us to a lot of genres that we probably wouldn’t even listen to in our own homes from our parents. So from Jazz, Blues, R&B, Soul, Classical and Country music, Hip Hop has introduced us to a little bit of everything. I thank God for Hip Hop because Marvin Gaye didn’t have that and he was able to be that dope. For us to have that and more, I feel like it is up to us to be as dope as we can possibly be.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You’ve started to gain an Urban AC fan base as well. “Woman’s World” is blowing up on the charts, so what’s the importance of the Urban AC crowd to you?
BJ The Chicago Kid: I embrace everybody, but you work everybody and each song at a time to who it is for. I believe that’s how you build a palace. You build a palace one block at a time and then you’ll have what you want. That’s how it goes. A lot of people don’t understand the building phase. They don’t have the blueprint, but we do. With us having the blueprint and knowing what we want to build, it’s not how it’s supposed to be built, but what we want to build. I think it makes everything easy for us to stay focus and have that tunnel vision.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Why do you think younger R&B artists are afraid to jump into that Urban AC market?
BJ The Chicago Kid: I think it’s about the music that they make. I don’t really concentrate on Urban AC or whatever. I don’t concentrate on genres or how people section off songs for radio. I just make music from my soul and let it be.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Any upcoming music that we can look forward to?
BJ The Chicago Kid: Of course. I’ve got some cool features with some cool people coming out but I can’t speak on it right now. I’m part of this show called “Shots Fired” that is premiering on FOX. It’s right after the Super Bowl. It’s a pretty incredible show. I’m pretty much the voice of the show, so the voice of the opening credit record and the songs in between is pretty much my voice. I helped singing wise with the sound of the record and sonically. It’s an incredible opportunity for me to have that with just my first album. They don’t really rock with signed artists. They really showed the good faith in me and my team to be part of this. I’m proud of it. The story is pretty much marked by the time that’s going on right now and I think it’s going to match perfectly with what’s going on right now and make us question a few things as people. It’s really serious. It’s not something that America would take lightly. I think it’s so dead on with right now. I can’t tell you too much about the story, but it’s an honor to be part of something that’s historical. It’s being premiered on FOX right after the Super Bowl. It’s dope.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Anything you’d like to add?
BJ The Chicago Kid: Show up to the “In My Mind World Tour”.