R&B has been born again and BJ The Chicago Kid could very well be its savior! I’m not the only one to think so too either as BJ was nominated for three 2017 Grammy Awards for Best R&B Performance for “Turnin’ Me Up;” Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Woman’s World;” and Best R&B Album for “In My Mind.”
His real name is Bryan James Sledge and he’s a Chicago-bred church boy who marries the sacred sounds of Sunday morning into his edgy, in-your-face approach to R&B music. As you can see from his Grammy nominations and his Soul Train Music Awards performance alongside fellow Grammy nominee Anderson.Paak, BJ isn’t just another fresh face in music, but he’s an artist you should be paying attention to!
This current king of features and in my estimation, maybe the most-underrated artist currently in contemporary R&B, BJ has a message to his music. His songs tell stories like the great ones did. I’m talking folks like Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Lenny Williams and Teddy Pendergrass.
And while there’s a throwback vibe some of his soul, there are moments on his current album, “In My Mind,” where BJ will remind you of contemporary soul stars like D’Angelo and R. Kelly. In all honesty, “In My Mind” is one of the best album releases of 2016 and it’s a consistent listen from beginning to end. This collection stays in heavy rotation in my iTunes.
As a songwriter, BJ has penned songs for Lalah Hathaway, Joe, Kindred the Family Soul, Crystal Aikin and Shirley Caesar.
In addition to his own hits like “Church,” “Woman’s World” and “Turning’ Me Up;” you’ve also heard BJ on hits by Kanye West (“Impossible” featuring Twista and Keyshia Cole), David Banner (“In the Zone”), Schoolboy Q (“Studio”), Kehlani (“Down For You”) and Anderson.Paak (“The Waters”), among others.
BJ The Chicago Kid is raw, he’s refreshing and he’s just what the music business needs. If you didn’t know, now you know!
Here’s a look back to Jawn Murray talking with BJ The Chicago Kid for the first time at the Essence Festival in New Orleans for Essence All Access.