BJ The Chicago Kid – Tickets – World Cafe Live Philadelphia – Philadelphia, PA – October 15th, 2019

BJ The Chicago Kid

BJ The Chicago Kid

Tue · October 15, 2019

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

World Cafe Live Philadelphia

$20 ADV / $50 VIP / $25 DOS + Fees

Mezzanine tickets may be assessed a higher service fee.

BJ The Chicago Kid
BJ The Chicago Kid
With his second major label full-length album, 1123, BJ The Chicago Kid is already establishing his legacy as a multi-talented singer and hyper-creative artist who is excelling in multiple lanes while evoking a diverse range of emotions and connecting to a wide audience. His major label debut, 2016’s In My Mind, was nominated for three Grammy Awards and helped gain him recognition as one of R&B’s major players.

Now gathering upwards of a million global streams per week here in 2019, BJ has cemented that status by keeping in constant motion, whether by playing shows around the world, appearing as a guest on other artists’ records, or consistently dropping his own projects. Since the release of In My Mind, he has performed at President Barack Obama’s 2017 farewell address, released an original EP and accompanying short film (2018’s The Opening Ceremony), and appeared on myriad cover songs and collaborations, from H.E.R.’s “Could’ve Been” remix to the sole feature on the remastered anniversary edition of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On title track alongside Gaye’s original vocal itself. BJ—who includes Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo, Jodeci, and PJ Morton alongside Gaye on his inspirational Mount Rushmore—has worked with industry icons like Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, and Warren G and collaborated with current pop heroes like Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, H.E.R., Anderson.Paak, and more. Naturally, all these landmarks deserve one hell of a party to honor one who is clearly on his way to legend status. As it happens, his new album 1123 is just that—as those digits represent BJ’s late November birthday.

“I named the album after my birthday because it’s a celebration,” BJ says. “So many amazing things happened because of the success of In My Mind, and we were able to do things that we never had planned. That album was such a blessing for me, and so this album is even more celebratory. It gives you the full ride of a movie, with ups and downs and tears and joy; it makes you think, makes you want to love harder, makes you miss somebody you used to love, the whole nine. Making it was a beautiful journey, and calling it my birthday was the biggest celebration I could imagine.”

Born to a pair of Chicago choir directors and their family of musicians in the mid-1980’s, BJ began learning his craft at an early age. His God-given gifts—that otherworldly voice and unmatched ear—paired with his nonstop energy and passion for the music made him something of a prodigy, and soon The Chicago Kid began to make a name for himself. By interweaving what he heard and sang at church with the rougher tones of the street life he experienced daily on the gritty Southside of the city, he achieved a unique perspective and sonic sensibility that would attract much attention. BJ released a series of mixtapes and a breakthrough self-released album, the critically-acclaimed Pineapple Now-Laters, in 2012.

Where Pineapple was an exercise in genre rule-bending and painted BJ as a creative artist making music based on feeling rather than established norms, and In My Mind was a successful attempt at a bigger, highly focused R&B sound that displayed his huge talents for a larger audience, 1123 finds him incorporating the best of his previous works into a new sound and vibe. It is the walk between a classic soul and R&B sound and a rambunctious, experimental yet measured and catchy expression of emotional creativity. As touring and artistic commitments began to pile up following the last album, BJ learned to maintain his dialed-in mindset on a permanent basis. Much of 1123 was written and recorded on the road and in different locations, as opposed to the everyday home-base situation he had previously enjoyed. Working in this manner forced him learn efficiency and to get straight to the gold, as he says, and allowed him to incorporate many different influencing experiences as well. But all the while his world still turned, coming to terms with—and sharing—those relatable inevitabilities was also a big thematic influence on the work.

“Because I travel so much, other things in my life get neglected, and coming back home to deal with those life things was a big part of my writing for this album,” he says. “Touching life, smelling it and seeing it allowed me to describe it better in these songs. I have to go through some shit, I gotta love somebody, but life happens whether I choose it to or not. The bills are gonna be there, I still need to go see Mom…upholding my end of that responsibility is a cool thing that factors into the music. We all have responsibilities, so to communicate them and share that common ground is one of the reasons we’re here. The whole point of being an artist is to connect with the people, and without living there’s no connection.”

But sometimes that level of connectivity can cross over into a less-desirable realm. 1123’s single, “Worryin’ ’Bout Me,” is a firm call for both self-examination and for a nosy society to stop paying so much attention to private details of public lives. Featuring a blistering verse from the Migos rapper Offset—someone who knows a little something about what that type of global derision is like—the song’s fiery call-to-arms of a chorus (“Worryin’ ’bout me ain’t never made you no money”) reminds us that while mainstream artists like BJ can have a need for emotional protection, at the same time they’re still on a mission to make their own stacks—so make sure to manage your own.

“Time Today” is an ultra-smooth, hypnotic slow-jam about making room for the person who might feel left behind in the wake of the artist’s hectic schedule. BJ calls it the sequel to The Opening Ceremony’s “Rather Be With You,” a song that explained the space needed for him to be a musician in the face of romantic relationships—this time around, the tables have turned. “It’s very difficult to allow myself to be openly in love while trying to be a professional musician,” he says. “‘Time Today’ is like, ‘Alright, now I’m back and now it’s on, so I hope you’re ready.’” With its soulful, scintillating beat and patient, lulling vocals, the song is 1123’s closest moment to what could be considered a traditional R&B sheet-heater.

“Feel the Vibe,” an upbeat number featuring familiar collaborator Anderson.Paak, takes delight in its playful, nostalgia-drenched party vibes as well as its on-the-nose description of what BJ calls “everyday life in the hood.” A loving homage to his childhood home on Chicago’s Southside that served as a neighborhood social hub and celebration central, the song speaks of inner-city quirks (“It don’t seem right to be older than my uncle” raps Paak), soul food—“C’mon in, close the door, and feel the vibe / We got macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and chicken inside”—and the positive, peaceful, loving atmosphere the house provided for all. The party keeps going with the celebratory “Champagne,” a sincere take on a modern pop sound that finds BJ still on the high he reached following the release of In My Mind. By the time 1123 has reached its end, the full scope of BJ’s genre-blending abilities is clear, leaving the listener wowed, replenished, and inspired.

As authentic as they come and twice as thrilling, BJ The Chicago Kid continues to evolve as an artist. The legacy he is building only grows with every new step he takes, and his music— powered by his fearlessness, a bottomless well of fresh ideas, and a dexterous ability to navigate it all—will continue to speak for him, and to all of us.

“As an artist, I’m always evolving and tapping into my creativity to find the new sound and the new level. I’m a big kid at heart, and every day I make sure I tap into that; that’s where the box all these crazy ideas come from is located,” he says. “There’s so much I’m trying to do, but every time I get an idea I try my best to apply it and start the process immediately. To stay locked and loaded in this game is one of the illest things you can do. You need bullets when there’s war, and my ideas are my ammunition.”

“I can do so much as an artist. My whole objective is to find ways to deliver those layers in a digestible way. I look at it as bricks to a building: In the beginning, you may not know what it is while you’re watching it go up, but I understand what I’m building and I’m sticking to the blueprint that will continue to make me a legendary artist.’
Venue Information:
World Cafe Live Philadelphia
3025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19104