BJ the Chicago Kid Album Review
Written by Jeff Ramella on October 29, 2019
By Gary Brown
In the third studio album from R&B artist BJ the Chicago Kid, we hear the artist maturing his sound while continuing to maintain the same boyish personality and goofiness that his fans have heard since his debut effort, Pine-Apple Now-Laters in 2012. Although the artist has not had any major mainstream success since then, his list of collaborators has increased significantly since he broke onto the scene.
While some might argue that the long list of collaborators makes his sound less authentic, I personally believe having all the outside help has made for a more interesting and different sound from BJ, and this has created what is possibly his most well-crafted blend of styles yet.
The opener on this album, “Feel the Vibe” does exactly what its title implies. With help from fellow r&b legend, Anderson Paak, their two sultry voices come together on this track to bring the listener in, welcoming them to their home. This track does an excellent job of establishing the tone of the record, and it paints a vivid picture of an idyllic southern home, complete with “macaroni and cheese, collard cheese, and cornbread”.
The next few tracks keep the vibe going, with “Champagne” standing out as an infectiously catchy song about drinking irresponsibly, plus many songs being smooth modern love ballads laid over trap beats, distinctly heard in songs like “Can’t Wait” and “Time Today”. The rest of the album mixes elements of hip-hop, r&b, trap, pop, and old-school soul all into one enjoyable, flowing record.
My only gripe with this album would have to be the lack of lyrical variation amongst the tracks. As well-produced as this album is with its old-school beats and verses laid over modern-sounding tracks, the songs lack the poetic lyrics to match the effort put into the production. At least half of the songs on this album are either about partying, love, or making a lot of money, all extremely overdone themes found in modern hip-hop. One of the aspects of BJ the Chicago Kid that I enjoyed when I heard Pineapple Now-Laters was his storytelling ability and the deeply personal nature of his music. On 1123, it seems he has grown up, but in the worst possible way. Instead of maturing as a songwriter, it seems that he has shifted his focus to making songs that are likely to become hits, instead of focusing on making personal, heartfelt songs that set him apart from others. Despite being very pleasing to listen to and having excellent production, this album just doesn’t do much to set it aside from other R&B/Hip-Hop artists, like Chance the Rapper, Anderson Paak, or Phony Ppl.
If you’re looking for a hip-hop record with lovely harmonies, beautiful production, and a star-studded list of collaborators including Rick Ross, Anderson Paak, and Offset, then you will definitely enjoy this album, but don’t expect to be blown away by the sentimental nature of the songs. For what it was trying to accomplish, this album did a great job, and it’s a very enjoyable listen nonetheless.
Favorite Tracks: “Feel the Vibe”, “Can’t Wait”, “Worrying about Me”, “Champagne”
Least Favorite Tracks: “Get Away”, “Too Good”