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BJ The Chicago Kid's Short Film Balances A Beautiful And Beastly L.A.

BJ The Chicago Kid sets up a cinematic experience with "The Opening Ceremony."
BJ The Chicago Kid sets up a cinematic experience with "The Opening Ceremony."

At the start of the summer, BJ The Chicago Kid gave fans the three-track project as a short-and-sweet sampler of what to expect on his upcoming sophomore major label album. Today, the In My Mind-crooner unveils a short film to string the story of his latest three songs together with an NPR Music premiere.

The film breaks the story of the neighborhood into chapters with each song acting as the narrator. Sharing the same name as the preview, The Opening Ceremony film shows the balance between beautiful and the beastly parts of black life in L.A. The film is broken up into three chapters: "Going Once, Going Twice," "Rather Be With You" and "Nothing Into Something."

Even at only six minutes, there's a lot to absorb from the Child-directed visual. At first, staticky, home movie-style 16 mm film welcomes the viewer and captures the small wonders — kids at play in the yards and streets, a neighbor sweeping his curb, a hot comb being heated in a kitchen to delicately straighten a child's kinks. But these little moments of bliss are fleeting. Some imagery in the film is both shocking and yet all too familial. A cookout is interrupted by gunshots and juxtaposes curbside harassment by police. A kid encounters gang conflict while on a hapless walk through the neighborhood.

"We're simply telling three different stories in one about what happens in the inner city and tying them together," BJ tells NPR Music. "How gunshots can ruin a party to missing the person you love because of work or a different lifestyle. 'Nothing Into Something' is love-making and reminiscing over the journey of turning nothing into something."

There are emblematic moments in the visual, too. According to BJ, the burning palm trees represent the "eerie side of L.A. even when the sun's out and it's beautiful" while the flowers growing from the house at the end of the film are his way of showing "a rose who grew from concrete seed."

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