Grammys 2017: BJ The Chicago Kid Talks Nominees, Trump + 2017 Plans
BJ: 2017, for me, means that I will continue to do what I have always been doing: strive to be a better musician every day. That will bring a better year, y’know. It brings a better life by being a better musician, a better singer and a better producer. Naturally. Through consistently putting incredible things in my system and continue to move forward, I can do all these things through Christ who strengthens me. I make my mistakes, as we all do, but I definitely have a few tricks up my sleeve though.
There is a show that I am working on that I’m super excited about. It is called Shots Fired and it is coming out on FOX next year. The whole concept of the show is genius, and I can’t wait to see the people’s reactions and be a part of something I believe is definitely going to change lives.
OKP: To relate this upcoming show to our conversation, as we’re now in “Trump’s America” and things are beginning to pick up to a frantic pace — how would you say that music has helped you cope with the traumas that are being pushed upon us?
BJ: [Music] is my getaway. It is everything and has always been my everything. When the rain has come down before me, music has always been a hug for me. It has always been that place of dry land that I can rest upon. I really thank God for music because I don’t know where I would be [without it]. I think I would always had been trying to do something creatively, but I don’t know if I would have been able to do it hanging with who I would’ve been hanging out with. Versus who I have been hanging out with this music thing is a totally different crowd.
I grew up in church and I’m black, so crossing the dudes on the corner has always been like dealing with family. That’s the way I see it. It’s just crazy, y’know. I am sure if I wouldn’t have been doing this [music] that there would’ve been some rocky, rocky, rocky, rocky, rocky roads in my life, y’know?
OKP: Way back when, I spoke to someone else who thinks highly of you, Eryn Allen Kane. She shared with us how “His Pain” with you and Kendrick Lamar was so influential to her that she flipped the track to let people in to the story of “Her Pain”. To sew all this together, I must ask: What has been one of your favorite songs that influences you?
BJ: “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong is like that for me. It is a song that touches my core on another higher level. I have a few songs that take me out into a zone, but I’d have to say that this and hymns more than anything are my influences. Specifically with hymns, that grasp from church, those rhythms are rich and lyrically meaningful. Even a simple song like “Our God is An Awesome God,” is, in my mind, a war song.
That is a song that you play when you know you’re going to war and you sing of your purpose in life. It is a song that resonates within you. The person on the other side of that feeling is getting a strong warning of why you’re singing God’s praises, and those kind of songs give me chills. Songs like that will always strike my core.
OKP: With some pretty solid nominees in the R&B category — can you speak to how it feels to be nominated amongst the likes of Ro James, Rihanna and Musiq Soulchild? If you could say one word to them—good luck or whatever—what would it be?
BJ: It is an honor to even be nominated in the category with them. I have admiration for every other artist in the categories that I’m in. It is total truth. I have worked with some of them before, it is a real honor and a big statement for all of us to have this opportunity. My message to anybody that I’m in a category with, I’ll just say, I appreciate you guys for working so hard and I respect you all. Much love [to you all] and best in continuing in your career. I don’t like to say “good luck,” but I would just like to say “blessing” because I don’t believe in luck.
OKP: OK, OK… What would be the first Grammy after party that will be graced with your presence?
BJ: [Laughs] The one in the car leaving from the Staples Center. If we win or if we lose, we are going to have a little shot [of drink] and celebrate. It’ll really be about enjoying the moment. After we celebrate that moment, we’ll be back to work because that is key to the success we’ve been able to have. My first album on Motown and it is Grammy nominated—that’s major. I don’t think people really know that I created this album conceptually my whole life, but I put it all together in 30 days. I slept at the studio for 27 straight days out of 30 to create this project.
OKP: Wow, a pretty cozy studio set up?