Growing Up in Chicago
BJ The Chicago Kid: "[I grew up] on the South Side [of Chicago], between 87th and Vincennes and 95th and Vincennes. Growing up there made me who I am. From the rules—you can’t really come up to the park and play basketball unless you know how to play basketball. If they gambling at the park and one team got four guys and they need a fifth and you can play, they going to pick you up. If you win, they going to cut you in on the bread, even if you ain't put no money down. [Whispers] But you got to know how to play at least. It’s the basic rules that Chicago has.
"For days when it’s lonely, I understand, to be lonely sometimes these days is for the realest people. Because the dopest shit, really, there’s not a lot of people behind it. So I understand that, sometimes, being good, being great, and trying to be the best, you’re going to have some lonely days. It’s not too many people on that same level.
"On my block, we grew up like family. Summer times, man, psshh, we in the back in the alley or in the front on the block. Somebody has some music playing, and nine times out of ten, it’s soul music. We got whatever we drinking that day, we got some food, we probably even grilling. It’s just a good time.
"What’s crazy is, my block was a older block in Chicago. Most of the people that’s on that block own those homes. They’ve been there for years. They’ve known me since I used to rake the leaves and ask if I could shovel lawn for $10. They’ve seen how we grow up, so they know, like, ‘Ok, it’s not shooting around here, but if loud music and a little laughing is all we have to put up with tonight, we’ll deal with that.’
"These are the same people that protect this neighborhood. The same people that’s not going to let nobody rob your house knowing you just went to church. Same people that are going to help you take your bags, even if you don’t want them in your house, they take it to your door. That’s how I was raised. Musically, I present that same warmth. That same country, down-home feel."