There is a responsibility that comes with soul music; an obligation assigned to those gifted and impermeable enough to deliver the direct truth of life's impending turmoil and triumphs through a single vocal run. And BJ the Chicago Kid took accountability early.

There's also a responsibility that comes with securing global success in a place difficult to make it out of - passed insupportable statistics and barring city limits. From Southside Chicago, BJ entered the music industry as a background singer, using his gospel-tinged voice to accompany artists like Mary Mary, Usher, Stevie Wonder and Jill Scott. Yet through setbacks and sacrifice, he wrote and recorded, concocting a unique blend of soul and street-centric music that eventually garnered attention from Motown records and Virgin EMI.

The plight of a modern day soul star relies on both responsibilities and with BJ the Chicago Kid, there is nothing elusive about those endeavors. The Chi-Town native's welfares pervade the place where hip-hop tinged contemporary R&B meets southern gospel, within the 15-tracks of his recently released major label debut full-length In My Mind, and in the moniker he creates with. After submitting to timing, the spotlight is his and BJ the Chicago Kid has stepped up with broad shoulders and that voice.

You put out your debut major label album In My Mind about a month ago so congrats on that. Now that it's been about a month, how have you processed the whole whirlwind of delivering it?

Processing it is a process. It's all just very new for me. I sang background before and I was a songwriter for a while, so this just has a different face. It's a different avenue. I love it and I enjoy it but I'm learning at the same time. Honestly, we're still moving here now promoting In My Mind, we're not stopping. There is no rest period, no down-time. And I don't want any downtime. I just want to keep working, letting people know that the music is out. It's now.

And you've been making great statements about the project in order to tell people about your philosophy regarding your music and you gave this one quote saying that In My Mind isn't a literal statement about what's in your head, it's more to you than that. More than your nominations, your studio sessions, more than your reviews. What else were you really trying to get out and showcase that you're made of in this full-length and what was that process like of doing that?

It wasn't necessarily about the subject matter in my mind at all. It's pretty much a display of what we could do musically. Until then, I was known for being in the studio with ScHoolboy Q or Kendrick Lamar, or whatever record that had people rocking to BJ the Chicago Kid. This is far much more than that. And in my mind, I wanted to break down what we're good at, what we're awesome at. That's what we highlighted on the album so that's why it's called In My Mind.

And still, there was talk about who you had worked with on the project. You had mentioned some of those names like Kendrick Lamar. But you've made it clear that they're not all just big-named artists, these are your friends. These are people you have mutual respect with. It's awesome to see such a brotherhood in music. What has building that brotherhood been like and how does that affect your outlook in this insane industry?

That's all I've ever been around. The brotherhood, the brotherhood, the brotherhood. So thank god, I've only worked from hand to hand with conscious, solid people, you know what I mean? And those people introduced me to other people who were very like-minded as well so I became part of a community that has a certain outlook on music, and on friendship in this industry – what it should look like, what it should feel like, what it should be like, what we don't want around. That's what we surround ourselves with. That's what we push forward doing.

And that seems to blend into the philosophy of your music and the type of R&B and soul music that you deliver. Nowadays, R&B music is so multi-dimensional and there's a number of sub-genres like trap soul, contemporary R&B. But I read a great quote from you where you said "there's a deeper responsibility making soul music. I'm not supposed to teach you how to party. You're only in the club for a certain number of hours a day. I can teach you how to get through the rest of the day." That was powerful. When did you first learn that you had that kind of power as a soul artist?

Honestly, very early. I learned what soul music did for me as a youngin', as a pup, as a baby. That feeling that I had, that was a part of the music - that responsibility. Assuming that responsibility in every single piece of soul music that I heard, that's a major part that comes with it, almost like grace and rice. It's a part of the good that comes with it. Once you know, you're now accountable, you have to find your niche and find who you are and I feel like music, as a creator, is different going in and just singing words off a piece of paper that somebody else has written, I have a different responsibility to go in and create something meaningful.

What does the plight of a modern day soul star entail and what does the path ahead look like to you?

I just want to make music that's better than what I made yesterday. Just doing that. And as a man, trying to be better than who I was yesterday. I feel like that's enough to be better the next time you guys want to listen to something else from BJ the Chicago Kid. I feel like as long as I decide to be better in whatever ways, I will if I put forward that earnest effort just to be great. Even though I've been in music for a while, I still love learning innovative ways of doing things and meeting new like-minded people that are talented and willing to come and create some incredible music. That's what I’m about. I think that mindset is what had people interested before I knew they were interested.

Last week was a wild week in the realm of R&B, which you showed your support for online, regarding Kehlani. We talked about purpose and we talked about brotherhood. What else keeps you grounded?

Being a real friend. I don't know what happened with Kehlani. All I know is that I have a friend that's in need and I support my friend, right or wrong. I hope my friends don't judge me when I'm fucked up or when my name is in the headlines, I hope I'm not judged. I think that's one of the most crazy parts about this thing is the lack of support and love, man. And I don't have to talk to Kehlani every day or David Ali every day to let them know that I love and support them. But I'm not here to judge. I continue to pray that things get better. That's all I'm about, positivity.

I get that from your music, I get that from your interviews. And it's commendable. What is the most fulfilling part of giving back and supporting through every creative and public outlet you have?

I know it's impossible to touch everybody. But I guarantee, the one person that I touch, their life will be saved and that's how my life has been saved, from people reaching out to me. People I never knew were reaching out and letting me know that they were here. I was getting that support and knowledge early and this is why I can be like, this is why that happened. I've been through so much to have an honest journey of not trying to have a little damage control.

We know your journey about being a back-up singer to eventually coming out and delivering your debut on a major label. You've really also had to submit to the timing of everything. Why do you think the timing was right for you and what do you think of the concept of paying your dues now that you're here?

I feel like I'm still paying them. You never stop paying them. You don't know the price of paying your dues when it comes to giving what you need to the universe for the universe to give back to you. You never know. If I knew that all of this would happen in this part of my life, who knows if I would have kept going? Not knowing and risking so much and putting so much on the line, you can't give up any second. You have to try and win every minute of the hour, because just keeping up, you lose so much. You can't force time. So the responsibility is to make it. What you put out is what you get back. You have to prepare and the only way to prepare is to stay focused. It rains six months before the sun shines for a day. But that one day of sunshine feels so good. It's not a balance. You have to go through some things. That's what makes me write the way I do. That's what makes me have the passion that I have. If you don't live, then there's no substance. You've got to live a little.