With yesterday’s terrorist attack in Nice, France—and everything else going on in the world today—Marvin Gaye’s 1971 classic “What’s Going On” has never been more relevant. Modern-day soul man BJ the Chicago Kid duets with the late Gaye on a new version of the song that reimagines it 45 years later.
“I feel like ‘What’s Going On’ still resonates today because every word is still very valid. Marvin was on to something, man,” says BJ. “To choose me to help further the understanding of a song that still stands right now is humbling.”
The duet is featured on a special What’s Going On vinyl LP that was recently released. “I’m truly honored. I still can’t believe it’s real,” says BJ. “I bought the vinyl myself just to touch it, just to feel it. It’s beyond a dream come true.”
BJ says that the duet validates his own path as an artist. “It is a statement to let me know that I should keep running in the same direction I’m running,” he says. “It’s a statement for other people to understand what I’m here for…which way to connect the dots. I just have to continue to push further.”
Like Gaye before him, BJ is on the legendary label Motown Records. “A lot of people ask me if there’s pressure when it comes to living up to the legacy of Motown,” he says, “and I don’t believe there is because of a little project called Pineapple Now-Laters. I released that project before I became a part of Motown Records. It’s what drew Motown to me. They love what I’ve been doing long before I came.”
After performing at ESSENCE Festival on July 3, BJ launched his first headlining tour this week. The In My Mind world tour—named after his major-label debut album—kicked off Monday in Montreal and continues through October.
“It’s a long way from the South Side of Chicago,” says BJ. “I came from singing background; I went from Mary Mary to Usher to Jamie Foxx, Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton, Kanye West and Stevie Wonder. I went through so many and have seen so many things. Through my happy days, through my frustration days, this is still amazing to me.”
Check out BJ the Chicago Kid and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” duet below: