Music Reviews

Generations of Soul, Hosted by E&J Brandy in Chicago

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October 14 at Thalia Hall, Generations of Soul campaign, presented by E&J Brandy and hosted by Loni Swain.

This campaign was described as “a story of three incredible soul artists bound by their love of music and a deep respect for their roots.” These three featured soul artists at last night’s show were Lee Fields, BJ The Chicago Kid, and Raphael Saadiq. Representing three separate and distinct generations, these artists brought out fans of all ages to pack Pilsen’s Thalia Hall to capacity.

Of the three performers, BJ The Chicago Kid comes from the youngest generation. A native of Chicago’s South Side, BJ kicked off his singing career by moving to L.A. at the age of 19 to sing back up for gospel duo Mary Mary. Throughout his career, he has worked with artists such as Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar, and Chance The Rapper.

During his performance, BJ did a great job of getting the crowd hyped. He was very energetic and engaged with the crowd by getting everyone involved in helping him sing the words to some of his songs. During his performance of “Electric Feel,” the guitarist of the band played an electrifying solo, which pumped up the energy of the crowd, and got everyone excited for the rest of the show. Another crowd favorite from last night was “Church,” which is the lead single on BJ’s upcoming album In My Mind, which will be released in 2016.

He introduced his final song by saying: “This song is what changed my name from BJ The Chicago Kid to Grammy nominated BJ The Chicago Kid,” referring to TDE artist ScHoolboy Q’s hit song “Studio,” in which BJ provided the vocals for. The song was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 2015 Grammy Awards. After being requested numerous times by audience members throughout the performance, “Studio,” left the crowd energized and in good spirits for the rest of the night.

The final performer was Raphael Saadiq, a veteran in the music industry, who kicked off his music career by touring with Prince at the age of 18. After returning to his hometown of Oakland, California from touring with Prince, he became the lead vocalist for the group Tony! Toni! Toné! Once the group went their separate ways, Raphael blossomed as a solo artist. At the 2003 Grammy Awards, Raphael won the Best R&B Song “Love of My Life (Ode to Hip-Hop)” award, along with winning the Centric Award at the 2011 Soul Train Awards.  He is credited at working with artists such as Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, Musiq Soulchild, among many other influential artists in the industry.

Raphael was assisted by two back up singers who helped keep the audience pumped up throughout the performance. Raphael began his performance full of energy, and the crowd was all for it. He provided lots of dance moves to accompany his vocals, and interacted with the audience throughout his performance, keeping everyone energized and entertained. Raphael brought out his guitar multiple times during his performance and amazed the audience with his guitar skills.

His performance of “Heart Attack” got the crowd going the most. Raphael, accompanied by his guitar, provided a funky performance that had audience members dancing and cheering the entire time. The flashing lights, theatrical smoke, and a harmony of numerous instruments, Raphael was able to keep the audience on their feet, dancing and singing along to his songs the entire night.

Audience members got a dose of multiple generations who each provided the right amount of soul in their performance. The artists kept the crowd entertained the entire night, and showed that though they represent different generations, they still have the ability to unite and create a soulful sound appealing to people of all ages.

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