Feb 26, 2016

Review: In My Mind - @BJTHECHICAGOKID {Written by @Natural_Nation}

This past weekend South Chicago soul artist BJ The Chicago Kid released his first studio album with Motown Records. For anyone who is hearing about him for the first time In My Mind is the perfect introduction to this passionate artist's work.

My first introduction to BJ The Chicago Kid was through TDE (Top Dog Entertainment). He did a collaboration with Kendrick Lamar on His Pain II along with some tracks by ScHoolBoy Q. A bit later I followed up by listening to BJ's Pineapple Now & Laters mixtape. I'm happy to say this Chicago kid did not disappoint with his first major album. Excellence is the word that stands out to me after listening to In My Mind. There really is no better way to describe it. Excellent vocals, content, and production that all come together to form a cohesive sound. I know we're early in the year but it would honestly surprise me if this album was not a Grammy consideration. The fact that a renowned record label like Motown is backing Bj The Chicago Kid speaks volumes in itself. Quality recognizes quality. So, now that I think about it, the superior musical level of this album does not come as a surprise.

The album begins with many of the singles BJ has already released. Man Down featuring Buddy and Constantine is the first track after the introduction and is a great way to pull in the audience and get the album off to a good start. I say that because the sound of this particular song is similar to much of the music we're used to hearing on the radio today. At least when it comes to rap and r&b. I would say the sound is parallel to Bryson Tiller's concept and sound of trap-soul. Church featuring Chance The Rapper and Buddy, is another pre-released song following right after Man Down. As a lover of everything Chance I was super excited to see that he was featured on this album. The song revolves around the subject of being a person of God when surrounded by temptation and sin. Chance comes in on the third verse giving us the same type of melodic raps we heard on Surf. Chance the Rapper is a subtly perfect addition. The Resume ft. Big K.R.I.T. is the last pre-released track to start off In My Mind and can be best described as a song for the bedroom. BJ delivers a Zapp & Roger-esque bump and grind type track filled with suggestive lyrics and double meanings. If there are any freaks out there, get your flags ready.

Wait Til The Morning featuring Isa is one of my favorites. With in the first 30 seconds it actually had me wondering why it was not released as a single. Or, who knows, maybe it's in the works but this track is definitely strong enough to stand on its own. With a catchy beat and lyrics and possibly a hint to Kehlani, I'm predicting this will be a fan favorite. Which leads me to Heart Crush. This is one of those songs where you may hear something different every time you listen to it. There's something about this song that has me intrigued enough to press the repeat button. Maybe it's the clearly heart felt lyrics or the gentle build of the song but its ending up to be one of my favorites. Jeremiah/World Needs More Love featuring Eric Ingram is a tale of love lost. BJ sings about going through life unable to escape the fact that things aren't quite right with out the woman that he loves. She is with somebody else and although he knows there are things to be thankful for it still hurts knowing that he is not the one with her.

The New Cupid featuring Kendrick Lamar is another one of my favorite tracks based off overall production alone. There was thought put in to this track and the result is a beautiful produced song. BJ samples Raphael Saadiq's Oh Girl and seems to be using 70's style influences from Jean Knight and Issac Hayes. The way he incorporates all three sounds together is perfect. Taking on the responsibility himself BJ accepts the role of inspiring people to fall in love now that Cupid seems too busy to be bothered. Kendrick adds the perspective of a man with out love, navigating through an unattached world with too many options for women. At this point it seems like these two artists can't fail when they work together and this track is no different. Some artists blend well together with out much effort and BJ and Kendrick seem to be a magical combination.
"Cupids too busy in the club. At the bar. Rolling up. And if you see him let him know, love is gone. I know, I'm sure" 
-Bj The Chicago Kid, The New Cupid
Home, track number 13, is exactly what it sounds like. Bj pays homage to his home and expresses his desire to return to Chicago despite the craziness. No matter what we go through home is home. There is a reason why we recognize it as such and not just another place that we've lived. There is a sense of center there, things that help us get back to homeostasis. That is important, especially when dealing with a journey that takes us far away from where we've been. This song is a great reminder to remember where you came from if you ever feel a bit lost.

I have to talk about Falling On My Face because there is something about it's lovely melody that reminds me of a gospel song that I know but can't seem to put my finger on. This ballad is as bit melancholy. It's about being in a place where you can't seem escape. Bad things seem to keep happening one after the other and you manage to catch a break. The gospel themes and influences come through very clearly to me in his music. This song reminds me of the moment people have before their break through. The recognition of their flaws, the realization that they are not perfect, and more importantly the acceptance that they are not always in control. At this moment they often "let go and let God."

The album trails out with Turnin Me Up. In a tweet related to this song BJ mentions Marvin Gaye, a large influence in his music and in particular this song. For readers familiar with D'angelo this would be a track for you. The song is filled with a funky/ jazzy sound accompanied by horns, the piano, drums, shakers and what sounds like the flute. On top of several other instruments I probably missed. The song almost feels like walking in on a jam session. It's an elegant way to end the album and only serves as another example of what great music sounds like. The beautiful thing about albums like this is that they will never be dated or restricted to one type of audience. My bar has officially been set for BJ The Chicago Kid. With a first album that sounds like this I can only imagine what he will come up with next. In My Mind is available for download on iTunes. You can also stream it in it's entirety below.
Rating 4.75 out of 5.
@Natural_Nation's favorites:
7. Wait Til The Morning Feat. Isa
10. The New Cupid Ft. Kendrick Lamar
13.Home
15. Turnin Me Up

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Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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