Chief Keef

(Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Back From the Dead (2012), 6.5/10
Finally Rich (2012), 6/10
Back From the Dead 2 (2014), 7/10
Bang 3 (2015), 4/10
Dedication (2017), 4/10
Thot Breaker (2017), 5/10
Two Zero One Seven (2017), 4/10
Back From the Dead 3 (2018), 5.5/10
GloToven (2019), 5/10

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 half-baked slapdash collaborations with producer Michael "12million" O'Brien, and for the mixtapes Sorry 4 The Weight (2015), a tribute to Lil Wayne, and 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 Trapholizay (2018). 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.

(Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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