BJ The Chicago Kid is enjoying success with his gritty yet touching soul album In My Mind. Getty Images
BJ The Chicago Kid is enjoying success with his gritty yet touching soul album In My Mind. Getty Images

BJ the Chicago Kid talks about his Grammy-nominated album In My Mind



One of the notable breakout albums last year was In My Mind by BJ The Chicago Kid. For ­newcomers to his work, the heady, soulful sound of the 32-year-old's debut was a welcome throwback to an era were R&B and soul was more concerned with evocative songwriting than commerciality.

For fans, the album was merely a confirmation of what they already knew.

Now the wider music industry could honour BJ, real name Bryan James Sledge, as he is up for three Grammy Awards in tonight’s ceremony. He is nominated for Best R&B Album, Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best R&B Performance.

We spoke to BJ before the nominations were announced, and he told us about the ­creative process behind In My Mind plus singing about life's more complex side.

In My Mind is a gritty yet touching soul album. How did it come together?

The music is me. I am so glad the album came out and it is doing really well. I have been working on it for a while. But at the same time, they are not just a collection of the best songs I wrote. When you are making an album it is about the purpose – you are creating both a concept and vibe, then you follow through with that. It is all passion-driven with these songs. The way I work is just to make it all seem natural. It’s not just about doing it to make an ­album. I want the creative ­process to be effortless.

You worked with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper on the album. What do you look for in a collaboration?

It actually all happens before the collaboration. I am normally a fan of the artist I work with it and that makes it easier. We both know how to utilise each other to get the best ­product out. To be useless is just ­terrible.

In My Mind deals with issues such as faith, relationships and owning responsibilities in life in a nuanced way. You seem to say that life can get kind of messy.

Absolutely. In a compass we got north, south, east and west, right? But in between that, you got things like north-east – now that, to me, is where real life is. Everybody’s life is not straight, it’s often 30 degrees to your left, or in the hardest part of the reach. The fact that music can go there is what makes it so special.

sasaeed@thenational.ae

THE BIO

Mr Al Qassimi is 37 and lives in Dubai
He is a keen drummer and loves gardening
His favourite way to unwind is spending time with his two children and cooking

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo

Power: 201hp at 5,200rpm

Torque: 320Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km

Price: Dh133,900

On sale: now

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

THREE

Director: Nayla Al Khaja

Starring: Jefferson Hall, Faten Ahmed, Noura Alabed, Saud Alzarooni

Rating: 3.5/5

THE DEALS

Hamilton $60m x 2 = $120m

Vettel $45m x 2 = $90m

Ricciardo $35m x 2 = $70m

Verstappen $55m x 3 = $165m

Leclerc $20m x 2 = $40m

TOTAL $485m

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

The bio

His favourite book - 1984 by George Orwell

His favourite quote - 'If you think education is expensive, try ignorance' by Derek Bok, Former President of Harvard

Favourite place to travel to - Peloponnese, Southern Greece

Favourite movie - The Last Emperor

Favourite personality from history - Alexander the Great

Role Model - My father, Yiannis Davos