BJ the Chicago Kid at the Shrine | Concert preview
Hometown soul man drops an impressive mixtape and decides to grow up.
Mature, soulful R&B might not be what you’d expect from an artist known as BJ the Chicago Kid. But on his latest mix-tape, Pineapple Now-Laters, the Kid—a.k.a. Bryan Sledge—is anything but juvenile. He’s smooth and earnest, making ample reference to the past, sampling Steve Wonder’s “Higher Ground” on a nonchalantly funky cover of War’s 1972 classic “The World Is a Ghetto” polished with wah-wah guitar and jazz flute flourishes.
The Chicago-born, L.A.-based singer pulls from his own past, too, weaving in gospel harmonies from his church-boy days (“East Side High 2012 & Forever”) amid tinges of nostalgia—the mix-tape’s named after his favorite childhood candy. Yet Sledge remains rooted in the now. He collaborates with rising-star rapper Kendrick Lamar; croons about sex, good reefer and God’s blessings (“His Pain II,” features an emotional, hoarse-voiced Lamar); and slips in a Sufjan Stevens sample (The BQE on “Plai Boi”).
Sledge went west when he was 19 to pursue a music career, starting out as a backup vocalist for gospel duo Mary Mary and eventually writing for the likes of Mary J. Blige and Snoop Dogg. Having spent nearly a decade in the industry playing supporting roles, he seems primed to take the spotlight. Moving toward a “more mature sound,” the native South Sider plans to ditch the BJ moniker and record future albums under his legal name. Here’s looking at you, Kid.