BJ the Chicago Kid, as you may have guessed, is a Chicago native. He learnt how to sing and play instruments in church and as a result, has developed an extremely soulful voice that has graced many rap songs since the beginning of his career. Many first heard BJ the Chicago Kid’s voice on Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Kush & Corinthians.’
Since that feature it has been hard to ignore BJ, appearing on ‘Good Ass Intro’ by Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap, ‘Like Me’ by Joey Bada$$ on B4.DA.$$… the list goes on. However, the artist really caught my attention with his perfectly executed D’Angelo Tribute EP. So when he released his second studio album Into My Mind in mid February, I was eager to see what else he had up his sleeve. Upon first listen though I thought the album was mediocre at best. This writer was prepared to critically rip this album apart. However, upon the fifth and sixth listen, I realised Myke C-Town from Dead End Hip Hop was spot on about the importance of letting an album sit with you a little. The more I listened to this LP the greater the piece became, and eventually grew to become one of my favourite releases of the year so far.
Into My Mind begins with a short introduction, introducing the listener to BJ, his beliefs; and his fear of spider webs. Following this ‘Intro’ comes ‘Man Down’, which is an interesting track with excellent production; the utilisation of the brass and trap snare rolls really adding an mean edge to the track. The lead single ‘Church’ is the third track on the LP and it addresses the issues of adultery and drug abuse and other temptations amongst young Christians with the chorus “she wants to have sex and do drugs tonight, but I got Church in the morning… Hopefully, we can go to heaven”. Chance the Rapper, as always, delivers a killer feature on the cut too.
This LP’s dull moments all became interesting with repeat listens, however there are some definite stand out moments. For example the harmonies and utilisation of the vocoder on ‘Resume’, which is probably my favourite track on the LP. ‘Shine’ is another song that deserves a special mention; it starts off with a simple piano riff allowing BJ to bring the beauty out of the song until the texture of the instrumentation thickens with the addition of the strings and other acoustic instruments. The lack of drums allows the song to stay beautiful and epic at the same time. Another special mention has to go to Isa who features on ‘Wait ‘Til The Morning’. She absolutely steals the show with her elegant vocals over the soulful piano accompaniment. The lack of a strict tempo allows the lyrics’ beauty to shine.
“The more I listened to this LP the greater the piece became, and eventually grew to become one of my favourite releases of the year so far”
‘The New Cupid’ featuring Kendrick Lamar was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe I held my expectations too high considering the track record the BJ/Kendrick partnership has with ‘Kush & Corinthians’ and ‘His Pain 2’ ; both being highly regarded tracks by critics and fans alike. Despite the song not being terrible, it seems as if the duo did not live up to the legacy of their partnership. ‘Jeremiah’ is wonderfully soulful down to the subtle organs and the lead guitar that comes in and out. The ending of the song is extremely powerful, with a similar vibe to the end of ‘How Does It Feel’ by D’Angelo. The B-side of this track, ‘World Needs More Love’, calms the listener after the powerful build up, like the worship section of a Praise and Worship set in Gospel music. I also loved his ode to women on ‘Woman’s World’, which is a refreshing change to the dense history of misogynistic music that can sometimes come from the genres of R&B and hip-hop. In ‘Woman’s World’, BJ points out that behind every great male leader is a great woman.
This LP definitely has replay value, however I don’t necessarily love every track on this project and feel the LP could have profited from a little more editing on the tracklist. That being said I am sure that other fans love the songs that I don’t love. As always, I look forward to what BJ the Chicago Kid has in store for the future.
Josh is currently Listening to ‘Dapper (Feat. Anderson .Paak) by Domo Genesis
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.