BJ The Chicago Kid has been through a lot to make it to where he is right now. While many still see him as a newcomer, with his latest record In My Mind being touted as “the major-label debut”, over a decade of behind the scenes work has gone into this breakthrough. It’s a rarity these days, when the paradigm is to throw tracks at SoundCloud until one achieves a level of virality and takes off, to find an artist who has spent quite as long honing their craft, perfecting a mature and timeless sound.
With a background as a church drummer, the Chicago native born Bryan James Sledge has sung backing vocals and written for artists behind the scenes, including everyone from Mary J. Blige to The Killers, and has gone on to collaborate with everyone from Kendrick Lamar to Kehlani, Dr. Dre to Jill Scott.
Since 2009 he’s released four mixtapes, and a critically acclaimed independent debut album Pineapple Now-Laters in 2012 which lead to a deal with Motown Records. With the legendary label behind his latest record, In My Mind, he admits his second LP still feels like a debut in many ways. “The stage that we’re premiering the album on is far bigger than I could have ever achieved before being with Motown, so it’s definitely a whole new world,” he says. “This album is smarter, more mature, living life a little bit stronger. I think everything enhances in time if you’re trying to be better every day at what you do. With Motown the release becomes all of our goal not just mine, so it puts us in a higher place when we get together to create again.”