Sixteen sweet years ago, D'Angelo released a song that would define his career for better or for worse. "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" was a seductive funk ballad in the vein of Prince. Composed by D’Angelo and Raphael Saadiq, the song created an enchanting feeling of longing with a sparse drum beat that is complemented by guitar licks and hi-hats, brought together by D’Angelo’s raspy whisper of a voice. While the song was great, the accompanying video, featuring a nearly naked D'Angelo, did more than complement the song — it overshadowed it. It was a jump-the-shark moment that defined D as a sex symbol, something that the artist wasn't quite comfortable with, which may or may not have contributed to his long hiatus from the world of music.
With that said, a tribute to “Untitled” comes with a lot of weight. However, on the anniversary of the king-making tune, BJ the Chicago Kid does a grand job of reminding us just why the music was great.
Despite a little production trickery with some warped sounds, BJ’s cover of the D’Angelo staple is pretty straightforward — and that’s a good thing. BJ’s voice is a great match for D’Angelo’s raspy timbre (and if we’re being honest, it's more decipherable), and he does an excellent job of bringing the song to life. While BJ takes it light on stretching out some of the notes and hitting those notes that made the song such an excitable experience, he adds in his own raunchy ad-libs that will either get you into or take you out of the mood.
The other three tracks in the project are mainly teases. BJ gives us just enough of “She’s Always In My Hair” over the intro beat to "Me and Those Dreamin' Eyes of Mine" to get us full of nostalgia before he moves on to something else. Similarly, his rendition of “Send It On” is full of heart, soul and melisma.
Of the project, BJ said, "I had to celebrate his [D'Angelo's] genius by paying homage to his legacy while he continues to kill the game and make great music. It's a new year and there's no better way to start it off than taking it back to where it all began for me. This is real soul/R&B." Paying homage to "Untitled (How Does It Feel)," though probably not BJ's first intent, is a great reminder that though some people say that R&B is in a state of emergency, it’s still alive and well if we simply step foot outside of our comfort zones to try something new.