Jhene Aiko, Kali Uchis, BJ the Chicago Kid, and Soulection Open Their Hearts for Ray-Ban x Boiler Room

Jhene Aiko, Kali Uchis, BJ the Chicago Kid, and Soulection Open Their Hearts for Ray-Ban x Boiler Room

SOULECTION CURATES A NIGHT OF NOSTALGIA AND FORWARD MOMENTUM FOR A BRAND NEW MONTHLY SERIES, AND V HAVE THE EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS

SOULECTION CURATES A NIGHT OF NOSTALGIA AND FORWARD MOMENTUM FOR A BRAND NEW MONTHLY SERIES, AND V HAVE THE EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS

Text: Natasha Stagg

April 22, 2016. “I just don't think falling in love is as popular as it used to be,” says BJ the Chicago Kid, following up after a particularly passionate performance about a week ago. “My parents probably fell in love at a Marvin Gaye show and got married. I'm not meeting my wife at a rap show,” he laughs, “so I decided to be that change. Just refer back to my song with Kendrick Lamar and Raphael Saddiq, ‘The New Cupid.’ That says it all.”

Earlier that night, Kali Uchis tells a crowd that “holding on to people that you love is really important. In this day and age we treat people really disposable. The lack of romance in this generation is kind of sad.” This attitude is common among young people in the twenty-teens—a fact made clear by the overwhelming trend of social media-driven meme laments. For those of us who remember the ’90s, the decade’s sensitive side was not what felt defining about it at the time. It was an era of newly efficient synth sounds, larger than life stage shows, Parental Advisory labels, and big budget music videos. It also appreciated, perhaps more than any other time, pure lyricism, self-expression, and storytelling in music, with the controversial birth of rap. In short, the ’90s welcomed new machines, and then raged against them. Sex was sold. But in retrospect, no one could have predicted that what would follow “Bump N’ Grind”—in short, the internet—would inspire so much self-induced isolation, which makes even the most obtuse eroticism feel, in comparison, tender.

On April 13 in Downtown Los Angeles, Ray-Ban and Boiler Room tapped Soulection for the first event in their monthly series. Soulection—a music collective that “exists to inspire a shift in passive consumption, placing value on community, discovery, transparency, DIY growth, and the artistry of music”—pulled off an evening of touching stories that told of the participants’ relationships to the vast and forever fluctuating genres we call R&B and Soul. The event, called Open Your Heart, was the first of an event series put together by Ray-Ban x Boiler Room, and the exclusive videos above show just a fraction of the overall feeling of soul education. Of their events, Montalis Anglade, Soulection’s Director of Operations and Technology/Artist Development said, “We want everyone to be happy, comfortable and continue to do what they love for years to come. Changing the status quo is a bonus, but happiness is the goal.”

The “couch session,” or listening party, was hosted by Soulection's Joe Kay and consisted of BJ The Chicago Kid, Kali Uchis, AbJo, Lakkim, and Kronika playing clips of songs that "opened their hearts." BJ’s first track was the Isley Brothers’ “Make Me Say It Again Girl,” the opening chords to which the small crowd of VIPs and fans instantly started nodding in unison. The 31-year-old vocalist and songwriter, who has worked with Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Jil Scott, the Killers, Kanye West—and the list goes on—has an encyclopedic knowledge of R&B. This song, he tells us, follows the genre through generations, most notably sampled in Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s 1995 hit, “Crossroad.” Next we hear Jodeci’s “Feenin’.” As an intro, BJ says, “Leather in the desert, y’all? That’s real R&B.” Jodeci, for those who don’t know, is a group whose two lead singers later became K-Ci & JoJo (of “All My Life” fame), with whom BJ has been in the studio. “Jodeci,” he adds, “changed the game in a lot of ways. They were one of the first hardcore, hardcore, hardcore groups, wearing leather with no shirts on, gold chains, Gore-Tex boots…and they’re being sampled by a lot of artists now, like Drake.” BJ’s last track is “R&B Thug” by R. Kelly, who he calls a “genius.”

 

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