BJ The Chicago Kid Shares ‘Tribute to the Anniversary of Usher’s Confessions’
BJ The Chicago kid always shows love to artists who have inspired him — just check his Instagram page. In honor of the 13th anniversary of Usher’s diamond-selling album, Confessions, BJ has released a mini project called BJTCK: A Tribute To The Anniversary Of Usher’s Confessions.
On the three-track project, BJ covers some of his favorite songs on the album including “Superstar,” “Can U Handle It” and “Simple Things.”
The two R&B artists have a long-standing history as BJ used to be one of Usher’s background vocalists.
Listen to BJTCK: A Tribute To The Anniversary Of Usher’s Confessions below.
It’s hard to believe BJ The Chicago Kid released his major label debut album, In My Mind, just two years ago. Looking back, the Motown Records artist had an impressive debut era. He went on a headlining world tour, earned three Grammy nominations — including “Best R&B Performance,” “Best Traditional R&B Performance,” and “Best R&B Album” — and racked up over 75 million streams on Spotify alone.
In January, he released a vulnerable track called “I’m Sorry” as a treat to his fans. “It’s a song that’s pathetically R&B,” BJ explains to Rated R&B. “I feel like it’s R&B at its most essential feeling,” he continues. “R&B is made to say the things that you can’t or don’t have the balls to say. It’s like you can’t figure out the words to say but somehow this writer and this artist makes this song say exactly how you feel. That’s a part of my job as an R&B singer.”
BJ most certainly doesn’t have an issue with tapping into his feelings. Earlier this month, he dropped three new songs collectively titled as The Opening Ceremony. The lyrically-rich project consists of “Going Once, Going Twice,” “Nothing into Something” and “Rather Be With You.” The songs are just a taste of what fans can expect on his next album that is slated to release later this year.
While fans get acclimated with his three new tracks, the R&B champion teamed with his colleague Ro James for their co-headlining The R&B Tour. Rated R&B caught up with BJ at his tour stop in Washington, D.C. In our interview, he dishes on The Opening Ceremony, his upcoming album, his fight for R&B and more.
If you could add one more artist to The R&B Tour, who would it be?
It would definitely be Luke James. That’s our brother. He’s going to pop up at one of these shows, I’m not going to say which one, but he’s going to pop out and have some fun with us.
What inspired the songs on The Opening Ceremony?
On “Going Once, Going Twice,” I was really eliminating some things in my life that I didn’t really need. I wasn’t necessarily auctioning things off but I thought it was a cool way of having a song in that type of phrasing…describing how auctioneers get rid of things.
“Nothing Into Something” is a song that says you were here with me at the start and right now having what we have is a beautiful thing. It’s about seeing the growth and evolution of our love.
“Rather Be With You” simply describes the feeling with her is like no other. It’s the one place you’d rather be versus anywhere.
Are these three songs tied to your upcoming album in any way?
Absolutely. This is not an EP. To let the secret out the bag, a lot of people put EPs out to see what songs stick with the people. These three songs are on my album.
What can you tell us about the album?
The album is incredible. I’ve grown. I’ve evolved. Life has evolved for me. I’ve grown and seen the world with my label Motown Records. It’s been an incredible asset to add to the music. I just can’t wait to put it out the right way.
Is there a title?
I can’t say yet.
Who are some producers you worked with?
Cool and Dre, Danja, Jarius Mozee, Tubb Young and Karriem Riggins.
The title of Opening Ceremony and its artwork seem to be inspired by the Olympics. Does the album play on that theme?
Everything I do is huge and worldwide. My first tour was a world tour. So, everything I do begins with the world — not just my community, not just my neighborhood, not just to the people I’ve met but it’s to the world.
You recently said you’re “fighting for R&B, not trying to change it, just push it.” What elements of R&B are you trying to preserve for the masses?
I’m trying to preserve very essence. Our forefathers and our foremothers have laid down such an awesome pedigree of what we should follow. I think it’s up to us to take the responsibility to evolve it, be ourselves and really take it to another level — be creative. Keep the people involved…slow song, fast song, it doesn’t matter. It’s how life has evolved away from me and has given us other opportunities and lanes to help it grow and express ourselves so we should use that.
Speaking of evolving, how would you say you’ve evolved since In My Mind?
Life evolving, my family evolving, my music evolving, my producers evolving…working with producers I’ve never worked with before that I’ve always idolized.
“A lot of what I plan to offer with this album is kinda standing in this spot. … The king’s back. I ain’t gonna say ‘back,’ I never left,” proclaimed Usher in an MTV interview in 2007. Six months after making this bold statement, the R&B crooner released Here I Stand, his first album since 2004’s multi-platinum Confessions.
A lot happened in Usher’s personal life since his Confessions era. From ending his relationship with singer Chili and parting ways with his mother as manager to losing his father and becoming a father and husband, Usher wanted his life experiences to reflect in the records on Here I Stand.
Although he recorded some of Here I Stand before the birth of his first son and his marriage to then-wife Tameka Foster, his new music direction was already in the works. “It was a deliberate choice to make music with substance, not just about the things that we’re accustomed to—music about being the celebrity, the player, or having the car, the girl and the bling,” he told ESSENCE in 2008.
Led by Polow da Don-produced single “Love in the Club” featuring Jeezy, Usher’s fifth LP was released on May 13, 2008. It spawned four other moderately successful singles (“Love in the Club Part. II,” “Moving Mountains,” “Trading Places” and title track) and eventually became certified platinum by the RIAA.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, here are five love lessons from Here I Stand.
Lesson 1: Roleplay is healthy.
Sometimes we get comfortable sticking to societal norms (i.e. a man pays for movie and dinner, women cooks and clean). But who said we have to follow those exhausting rules? Whatever keeps your relationship thriving, do it.
Lesson 2: The past is the past for a reason.
Give your ex’s successor a chance to make their spot in your heart their own. While your former love may have treated you wrong, that baggage shouldn’t be carried into your next relationship. Share those hurtful moments to your next mate the beginning, and just give them an opportunity to prove himself until they show you otherwise.
“Love You Gently”
Lesson 3: Slow down baby, the loving ain’t going nowhere.
There’s nothing wrong with a quicky every now and then but it can’t be the norm in the bedroom. You can’t just get yours and forget about them. Your significant other deserves a pleasurable loving making experience, too.
Lesson 4: If you’re not happy, just leave.
Unless your lover practices sorcery, they probably can’t read your mind. Walking around with an attitude and being distance won’t rebuild a broken relationship. If they can’t get through to you, how can a bond be mended? Here’s some advice: talk up. You can either love them or leave them alone. It’s that simple.
Lesson 5: Show love any time, any place.
If you love your mate, then let them (and the world) know it’s real. Not to say you put your relationship on display all the time. But there’s nothing wrong with cute little reminders, especially if it’s a solid connection.
BJ The Chicago Kid celebrates New Music Friday with a new EP titled The Opening Ceremony.
The three-track project serves as an appetizer for his follow-up to 2016’s In My Mind. The EP also follows his previously released tracks “I’m Sorry” and “Come and Talk to Me,” a cover of Jodeci’s classic hit with Ro James.
Speaking of James, the two R&B singers will embark on a joint R&B Tour, which will kick off on May 15 at The Loft in Atlanta. The tour will also make stops in D.C., Baltimore, New York and Chicago, before wrapping up on May 27 at Troubadour in Los Angeles.
Stream The Opening Ceremony, and learn the lyrics before next Tuesday.