Bryan James Sledge, or, as you’ll probably know him – ‘BJ the Chicago Kid’, is a relatively under the radar R&B singer-songwriter working out of Chicago.
With four well received mixtapes under his belt, and an album that has some of the biggest firms in the music industry listening, you’d expect more hype for this guy’s newest project, entitled ‘M.A.F.E’, which he uploaded to Soundcloud this week. ‘The M.A.F.E Project’ consists of eight previously released tracks, four new ones, and includes features most notably from Freddie Gibbs, Smoke DZA and Schoolboy Q. Whilst the mixtape consists of mainly the powerful love ballads we’re expecting from BJ, it still manages to remain fresh, especially when factoring in the harder hip hop feel that other artists and surprisingly BJ himself bring to the table. He definitely seems to have expanded his comfort zone on this project and cemented his potential as a hugely successful artist in other ways than his feature on Schoolboy Q’s ‘Studio’.
The project opens with an acapella version of Justin Timberlakes ‘Strawberry Bubblegum’, and includes a number of other covers and reworks, such as a remix of Kanye’s ‘I Can’t Hold My Liquor’, which features Q, and a loose version of James Brown’s ‘King Heroin’, retitled as ‘Real Love Never Dies’. Alongside, there run a number of BJ’s originals, culminating in what we consider to be the strongest tracks of ‘Good Karma’ and ‘Soul of a Woman’.
Interestingly, up to the present time, BJ seems to be mostly known and applauded for his frequent collaborations with hip-hop super group TDE, but has worked with other huge artists such as Kanye West, Smoke DZA and Freddie Gibbs. While he doesn’t appear to have a massive following from mainstream audiences yet, it clear his talent is considered hot property within the inner circles of the hip hop industry. It’s not as if BJ doesn’t get any exposure – he has attracted enough followers to constitute a devoted fan base, but considering the quality of his tracks, and the high profile collaborations he has landed, you’d expect a release that gets covered by big critics such as Complex and Fader; strangely, they don’t seem interested yet.
It’s really up to BJ now to find the exposure himself; the talent, industry support, and devoted fan base is there, and hopefully his upcoming major label debut should be the big step into stardom we believe he deserves. Check out The M.A.F.E Project below, which is available for stream and free download.
Written by @CareerEnderSam and Charlie Conley