Chief Keef (Chicago's rapper and street criminal Keith Cozart) was only 16 when
he became a national sensation thanks to the trap classic I Don't Like,
from the mixtape Back From the Dead (2012).
The mixtape consists in bland rapping of repetitive lyrics
(mostly about guns and death) and a lot of posturing, with the combined effect
of painting the portrait of a soul-less nihilist.
The real musician was producer Tyree "Young Chop" Pittman,
an artist of the sub-bass and of the horror synth lines, whose beats created
not only the rhythm but also the melodies, and frequently mixed with
gunshots and screaming. Hence the
videogame-inspired chaos of True Religion Fein and
the demonic synths and beats of Monster.
Basically, Chief Keep's rapping was relevant only
to create his personal mythology, not the music.
The mixtape also contains
Save That Shit (similar in style to what Future was doing in Atlanta at the same time)
and one song featuring Louis "King Louie" Johnson, the original pioneer of "drill rap", whose debut mixtape (Boss Shit) dates back to 2007.
The spirit and the sound of that mixtape were turned into fun party music on
the official album
Finally Rich (2012), also mostly produced by
Young Chop and containing another signature song, Love Sosa.
Chief Keep's many self-released projects, which included the mixtapes
Bang (2011), Bang 2 (2013) and
Almighty So (2013), with 15 songs produced by 15 different producers
(notably the production sparkling synths of Baby What's Wrong With You architected by PhatBoy and ISOBeats),
were deliberately clumsy, sloppy, crude and brainless, sounding like
childish and stoned attempts at rapping,
but his personality was charismatic enough to influence a whole scene,
the scene that would be labeled "mumble rap", "trap rap" and "drill rap".
Another track went viral on the Internet: Faneto (2014).
It was taken from the
20-song mixtape Back From the Dead 2 (2014), entirely produced by him
in insanely grotesque and shamelessly mundane manners, yielding apparently
amateurish tracks such as
Homie, Cops and Wayne that were actually quite intriguing
and certainly cinematic.
He returned to outside producers for
the mixtapes Nobody (2014) and Nobody 2 (2015), two
collaborations with producer Michael "12million" O'Brien,
and for the mixtapes Sorry 4 The Weight (2015), a tribute to Lil Wayne,
Almighty DP (2015), a collaboration with producer Don "DP Beats" Paschal.
Then came the album Bang 3 (2015), mostly produced by Darrell "ChopsquadDJ" Jackson and Xavier "Zaytoven" Dotson, a collection of much more normal and tedious tracks (save Ain't Missing You).
Chief Keef "retired" from rapping in 2016, which means that he released at least three mixtapes that year and then the album Dedication (2017),
mostly produced by Atlanta's producer D. Rich,
followed by another avalanche of mixtapes.
Thot Breaker (2017), half produced by himself under the moniker Turbo,
was a pop-hop hybrid.
The pop element prevails in the songs
produced by Chris "CBMIX" Barnett (You My Number One and
Slow Dance, which border on romantic synth-pop)
and in Going Home.
Mike Will Made-It polished his sound in Couple of Coats, and Young Chop returned to produce Can You Be My Friend.
The best things on
Two Zero One Seven (2017) are the collaborations with
producer Lexus "Lex Luger" Lewis, the one who, in the early days of
trap popularity, had produced
Waka Flocka Flame's Hard in the Paint (2010),
Rick Ross' B.M.F. (2010) and
Kanye West's H-A-M (2010).
Back From the Dead 3 (2018) experimented again on unusual hip-hop formats
but with no particular highlights and without the same degree of weirdness as
Back From the Dead 2.
In the same year he released at least seven other mixtapes.
That's a simple reason why 3 was not as magical as 2.
The better structured
GloToven (2019) was a collaboration with
producer Zaytoven who had just debuted as a solo artist with
Elegant tracks like Sneeze obviously belong to Zaytoven.
The whole album feels like Zaytoven's second solo album,
rather than Chief Keef's 20th mixtape.
Chief Keef was more a meme than a musician and all the music that he produced
after 2012 simply hurt the meme without really improving the musician.