Photo: Kassandra Pia
Kassandra Pia: Happy 4th of July! You're here at the East Van Summer Jam and just recently finished playing a festival in New Orleans. Aside from festivals, do you have any summer traditions?
BJ The Chicago Kid: Cool shorts. Gotta make sure you have cool shorts. You gotta keep a few pairs 'cause there are so many hot days in a row. I wear shorts all year round though, not just when I'm outside. When I'm on the tour bus or driving...or sweats. And cool music, of course. BBQ's and that stuff is natural...
Kassandra Pia: What was the summer vibe like growing up in Chicago?
BJ The Chicago Kid: Music, food, good people. A lot of good music. Kinda like what you're hearing right now, something very soulful. Definitely smell the grill as we were kids playing; cars driving past with bangin' sound systems. Just a whole lot of good times in the urban community.
Kassandra Pia: What's cooking?
BJ The Chicago Kid: Everything from pork ribs to beef ribs to hot dogs, turkey dogs, chicken, shrimps, corn, we do this thing were we cook cabbage and seasoning and turkey bacon in the foil - it's crazy. What else? Pineapples on the grill, have fun with it.
Kassandra Pia: What's your earliest music memory?
BJ The Chicago Kid: Singing in church. Yep.
Kassandra Pia: Is that when you realized you wanted to pursue music?
BJ The Chicago Kid: Yeah. I knew I wanted to do nothing else but music. I thought I was going to be in the NBA at one time but when I saw how many other people in the world wanted that I was like, "yeaaah, I'll go back to music." Even though I never really left music alone, I just really wanted to go into basketball. My family is into basketball, spirituality, food and just like, togetherness. If we had a family crest that would be in the crest. Sports is always really big with us...everybody had dreams of being in the NBA. Music is there too, so I picked the right thing.
Kassandra Pia: Did you have a mentor early on?
BJ The Chicago Kid: I had a few...starting in my household. Everybody else besides me in my household. I'm the youngest of three. Mom and Dad they taught choirs, taught vocal lessons. My brothers both play drums. So I just made music and un-divorceable marriage for me. Besides that being in church then Monday through Friday being on the block with my homies hearing "Money, Cash, Hoes" and hearing Scarface and 8Ball, MJG, Dj Quik and all this other shit...that's what makes everything what it is when it comes to me. The soul that comes from church and the aggression that comes from the block. That's BJ The Chicago Kid.
Kassandra Pia: Speaking of church, you just performed your new single "Church" and mentioned this would be on your album coming out on Motown Records - can you tell us about that?
BJ The Chicago Kid: We're pretty much in the mixing and mastering phase. We did "Church" today - we didn't play Chance The Rapper's verse but he's featured on that record. I can't really talk much about the album but I'm very excited about it and it's almost ready.
Kassandra Pia: Can you give us a date?
BJ The Chicago Kid: Definitely this fall.
Kassandra Pia: What's your plans for the rest of summer?
BJ The Chicago Kid: We're travelling on the road with Jill Scott for seven weeks so we're gonna be everywhere. Tour bussing around.