R&B singer/songwriter BJ The Chicago Kid recently visited The Recording Academy's headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., to participate in an exclusive GRAMMY.com interview. BJ The Chicago Kid discussed collaborating with Kendrick Lamar, the legacy he hopes to leave as an artist, the impact his hometown has had on American music, and signing to Motown Records, among other topics.
"Motown has done so many things and broken so many barriers and built so many bridges in the past," said BJ The Chicago Kid. "I feel like it's only right to be honored by those eyes being able to see the same thing they saw in [Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder] and everybody else, [in me] … and believe that I can carry the torch. It's an honor and I really believe I can do it."
Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, BJ The Chicago Kid (born Bryan Sledge) moved to Los Angeles at age 19 and began touring as a backup vocalist for artists such as GRAMMY winners Mary Mary, Jill Scott and Usher. As a songwriter, he helped write tracks for artists such as Mary J. Blige, Lalah Hathaway, Mario, and Musiq Soulchild, among others.
In 2009 he released his debut mixtape, A Taste Of Chicago, followed by his sophomore effort, The New Beginning. In 2011 he released The Life Of Love's Cupid, a 10-track mixtape featuring covers of New Edition's "Can You Stand The Rain" and James Brown's "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World."
His most recent album, 2012's Pineapple Now-Laters, features 17 tracks, including "Good Luv'n" and "His Pain," which features Lamar. Pineapple Now-Laters landed on Complex magazines 50 Best Albums of 2012 list and caught the attention of Motown Records. He subsequently signed with the label, which has included artists such as GRAMMY winners Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson on its roster. BJ The Chicago Kid is currently working on his major label debut album, scheduled for release in 2014.
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