New R&B Adds: BJ the Chicago Kid, Lion Babe

BJ the Chicago Kid - In My MindBJ the Chicago Kid is an artist that has been popping up on a variety of rap album’s over the past few years with the most notable being his feature on Schoolboy Q’s “Studio”, a duet with Kehlani titled “Down For You”, and two tracks for Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap mixtape (“Good Ass Intro” and “Everybody’s Something”). Both of those tracks are indicative of how BJ approaches R&B, very clearly functioning with the confines of traditional R&B. Where Alsina and Jeremih lean into hip-hop and pop, BJ takes the sensibilities of those genres (often adding gospel as well) in a way that recalls the mid-2000s era of R&B. As this is BJ’s first major label album there is a glossiness to the album that hasn’t be on his mixtapes, but the formula is very straightforward with the strength of each song being more about BJ’s voice and lyrics than about production, which while consistent rarely shines. Due to this being the formula for most of the album’s tracks, features play an important role in breaking up the album’s monotony with Chance the Rapper’s feature on “Church” being the best the highest point on the album. Overall, this album does not redefine or stretch R&B, but it effectively plays within R&B tradition. KENNETH

RIYL: Kehlani, Chance the Rapper, Raphael Saadiq, Raheem DeVaughn

Recommended Tracks: “Church (feat. Chance the Rapper & Buddy)” (3), “Love Inside (feat. Isabella)” (4), “Shine” (6), “The New Cupid (feat. Kendrick Lamar)” (10)

Lion Babe - BeginsLion Babe is a two-member contemporary R&B outfit comprised of vocalist Jillian Hervey and producer Lucas Goodman. From the outset their most obvious peer is AlunaGeorge, replacing the Aluna Francis’s piercing vocal with Hervey’s worn rasp of a voice. Begin is the duos first album after releasing 2014’s eponymous EP (of which 3 of the 4 tracks reappear on Begin). This album is interesting in that its strengths are a consistency of sound, yet the transitions between tracks are extremely jarring with many of the tracks ending suddenly as though Lion Babe wants to emphasize each individual track over cohesion. Regardless the standouts are clear with the previously released “Jump Hi” getting Begin off to an uplifting start. About halfway through the album “Satisfy My Love” appears which is strangely placed next to the sonic collage of a centerpiece “Where Do We Go”. While for the next album Lion Babe should consider pacing and song transitions, Begin is a great debut album with numerous gems. KENNETH

RIYL: AlunaGeorge, Dornik, Solange, Amerie

Recommended Tracks: “Jump Hi (feat. Childish Gambino)” [2], “Satisfy My Love” (6), “On the Rocks” (8), “Jungle Lady” (10)


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