#Interview: BJ the Chicago Kid Breaks Down What’s Missing from R&B

Nearly four months ago, BJ the Chicago Kid, signed with Motown Records, one of the pioneering record labels in African- American history, and has been on the go since. Y.S. Mag was able to catch up with BJ during his nostalgic, Chicago photoshoot, as he readies for his new album. Check out the interview.

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[R&B] Soul music, I feel like, was originally made to help parents forget about their problems. Forget about all the bad report cards, and their bills, daddy left and gone to war.

How is it signing with one of the pioneering  record labels.
It’s an honor. Just to even hear the name Motown, and not think about history and standards- just greatness. I feel like it’s an honor for that name, for that legacy, to be the one to kind of carry the torch and carry the tradition. I feel like that’s a huge, huge, honor.

Musically, was it your goal to get signed.
Honestly, I’m in love with the music, and I always make music first. I never did this for the money. When I saw that this really is a business, and then of course, you have to know the business. Otherwise, you would just be doing music. It’s a lot of people just doing music and don’t have the business side together. So, whether it was with a label or me signing myself, I saw myself doing this. Regardless of the minor details, the big picture is still going.

Describe your musical journey.
I grew up listening to all types of music. My mom played a lot of christian music- Clark Sisters, the Winans, Commission. My dad had that, but he played a little Marvin Gaye [and] temptations. All of that goes into the molding, and the sound of what I have. I have a very old school sound, so I think that definitely comes from my father’s inspiration.

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What do you have going on right now.
Working on the album right now. Finishing the album, and still collaborating with other artists.

You consider yourself R&B.
Yes, R&B, soul. But, it’s like world R&B, soul. It’s not just for blacks, it’s for white ears, Asian ears, Indian ears. Green ears, orange ears. It’s for everybody, because we all go through different things. We all are different human beings, so, since we are all different individuals, I feel like we all have different ways of reacting. Because of that, it gives us our own little niche to have fun. It feels good that music is something we can all come together and enjoy, no matter what color you are, no matter what size you are. We are all united, and that’s called good music.

As you progress upward, do you feel the need to change.
No, but you evolve as an artist, and you just pray that the people evolve with you. Those that really roll with you, and have that authentic love. Even if they aren’t going through what you’re going through, or what you’re singing about. They still love it. They are still a fan of it. They still follow what’s going on, and I feel like that’s the genuine definition of the artist and fan connection.

You seem like a grounded person, how do you keep that level-headedness.
The way I was raised. My family, my friends. I think that goes from church to even street rules. You have to have loyalty, and with loyalty comes humbleness.

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In a past interview, you stated, you felt a weight on as an artist. Explain.
Not giving in to what everybody is doing right now, but to really hold up the standard of good music. Whether it’s a club tune, or a slow song, mid- tempo, or an a capella song. I feel like I have to continue to give you guys what I feel is good music. As an artist, we’re in love with everything that we do. So picking fifteen songs out of fifty, and picking 12 out of 200 is very difficult sometimes. As we evolve, and do that, it’s a growing thing. You just hope that the people rock with you.

Your take on R&B.
It sucks these days. Ain’t none. Most R&B artists have gone pop. They have evolved, you know, and I understand the game. Every few years, people come to shift it up, and shake it up. You know, like when you cooking chicken. You season it, put that flour on it and shake it up. [You have to] make sure that flour covers the chicken, and thats what I’m about to do. I’m about to shake the game up, and fully cover what I do.

Interviewed by Jonnita Condra

Cover photog/ Sarah McClogan

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