In the mind of BJ The Chicago Kid

Mason Schweizer, Staff Writer

As I sat in my room scrolling through the new releases on Tidal, I looked for something new that was not a rap album.


My taste in older music is rather diverse, ranging from Sublime to Bob Marley to Creedence Clearwater Revival, but most of the current music I vibe with is rap.


I quickly found the new album of contemporary soul artist BJ The Chicago Kid, “In My Mind.” I had a familiarity with BJ, both as a local artist and as a voice common in hip-hop and R&B collaborations, and I decided to give it a shot.


“In My Mind” is BJ’s major label debut, though he has worked with artists as big as R. Kelly since the turn of the decade.


The album was released via Motown Records, and definitely fits the Motown mold established by artists such as Marvin Gaye and The Temptations.


After a quick speech in the intro, BJ gets right down to business with “Man Down.” The hip-hop influences BJ has from his days in the Chicago streets collide with his gospel and soul backgrounds to create an interesting sound and establishes promise for the rest of the album.


The album’s first single, “Church,” features Buddy and the red-hot Chance The Rapper. The smooth track captures BJ fighting temptation from a woman and his faith, with a smashing bridge from Buddy and yet another show-stopping verse from Chance.


“Love Inside” is the first true love song of the album, and features the French singer Isabelle, who delivers her verse in her native language. I have no idea what she said, but it sounded beautiful.


“The Resume” is what BJ calls his resume to R&B, though the lyrics make it seem more of a love song, “can I work that body like it’s a 9-5?” Underground rap star Big K.R.I.T. makes an appearance, though it is just to deliver the prologue of the song, and he does not rap.


The next handful of songs are more traditional soul/R&B songs, and got a little boring for me.


My interest reappeared with the presence of recent Grammy winner Kendrick Lamar’s guest spot on “The New Cupid.” Cornrow Kenny pays homage to the genre, spitting “As I play out The Commodores, my faith destroyed, My heart don’t work, I’m unemployed.” The slow strings, horn and percussion made for a tough instrumental to navigate, but Kendrick was able to ride the beat.


After a powerful cut titled “Woman’s World,” the fittingly titled “Crazy” is a futuristic sounding cut in which BJ tells us to embrace our passions and goals, what makes us crazy, no matter how many people tell you that you can’t do it.


“Home” is a wonderful ode to BJ’s hometown Chicago, though he does not paint a picture of the city many imagine.


Listeners almost forget that BJ is from the same “Chiraq” as violent rappers such as Chief Keef and Lil Durk because of his strong gospel and soul sound. “Home” provides insight on the Chicago BJ knows and explains the strong hip-hop roots of the album.


“In My Mind” certainly had its ups, with songs such as “Church,” “The New Cupid” and the funky ode to Marvin Gaye, “Turnin’ Me Up,” that concludes the album.


The boring soundtracks that some of the R&B gave me will certainly not be a problem for fans of this type of music, and “In My Mind” will definitely be considered for many awards in the genre this year.


While BJ may never reach the level of stardom of greats like Luther Vandross or Usher, he certainly has shown potential with “In My Mind” to be a niche favorite, similar to the likes of Jodeci or


D’Angelo. In a city rich in R&B talent, BJ is quickly becoming the best singer out of Chicago since R. Kelly.