Review : BJ the Chicago Kid - Pineapple Now & Laters
Dj BoothOver the last decade R&B has slowly but surely morphed from “rhythm & blues” to “hip-hop that just so happens to have a R&B singer on the hook.” Or, at the very least, “R&B that just so happens to have a rapper on a guest verse.” The music that gets labeled R&B now would be barely recognizable to the founders of the genre, people like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. Need proof? How about the fact that while Billboard charts used to list R&B Singles separately, starting in 1999 they’ve decided to go with Hip-Hop / R&B Singles. Simply put, Billboard decided, “It’s getting too hard to tell the difference, f**k it, we’re just going to stick a / in there and combine them into one category.”...full text
Soul CultureBJ the Chicago Kid is a soul slinger. Packing an intensity that hits you hard and gets all over you, he keeps you coming back for more of that feeling. Born Bryan Sledge, BJ sings, writes and arranges with the best of them. Having worked with everyone from Mary J. Blige and Toni Braxton to Anthony Hamilton, Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dogg, he is seasoned.
BJ’s sound is a tangible, physical experience, with his music pricking, prodding and pushing you, pulling you into his space. His album Pineapple Now-Laters, named for his favorite candy as a kid, has been bubbling just under the surface like the boiled down molasses required to make the sticky treat.
Stacks magR&B is usually that category that is, surprisingly, lacking in a sense. Many of the artists that are notable are either highly sexualized or heavily pop influenced. This leaves out some of the “soul” of R&B hanging out the window. The ones that do keep their R&B music more “authentic” (songs of love, sex, and social commentary) are heralded yet ignored. People may love their music, but they don’t sell as much. With Pineapple Now Laters being released with little fanfare, BJ The Chicago Kid may become one of those ignored. The saddest part is that his music should get as much attention as possible.
BJ shows initial proficiency when it comes to making songs about love and sex. “Sex Is the Best Breakfast” would easily make most women become undressed for a tryst of midnight (or early morning) loving. With “Other Side”, he takes the time to observe why the grass isn’t always greener on the opposite side of the fence. Even the interlude “White Picket Fence” is so efficient in its amorous feelings that his talent is hard to ignore. With these examples, BJ shows his ability to make the songs necessary to express adoration and carnal desires....full text
Beats per minuteAmidst a barrage of suave, assured, confectionary-based dedications and promises found on the intro to Bryan Sledge’s debut LP, one is particularly striking: “I know you listen to music, this gon’ change how you hear it / After Pineapple Now-Laters, your taste buds change.” But Sledge—or BJ the Chicago Kid (as he’d no longer like to be known after this release)—is not trying to sell his listener the quick, sweet R&B fix that a title like Pineapple Now-Laters would suggest. As far he’s concerned and has recently stated in an interview with BET , his “contemporary” R&B artists have long strayed from true R&B and into the realms of pop, soul R&B is dead, and the burden to resurrect it belongs to him.
What results is an hour-long tour filled with sex, Chicago soul, spoken samples, and sprinkles of socially conscious granola. At eighteen tracks, it’s an expansive album; surprisingly so only if one doesn’t consider BJ’s accomplishments as a songwriter in the industry—he’s written for Mary J. Blige, Musiq Soulchild (his closest contemporary, sound-wise), and Jamie Foxx, to name a few. He’s also from a rather musical upbringing and geography: his uncle played with Smokey Robinson, his mom was a choir director, and he prides himself on growing up breathing the same South Side that Curtis Mayfield once breathed....full text
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