We wanted to share this piece with you in light of the upcoming release of Chief Keef’s Finally Rich and the soul-shattering events of the 14th. We need to remember that music is more than namedropping and new genres.
Hip hop has a new prince, and he is a 17 year-old felon with a muti-million dollar deal with Interscope Records. Keith Cozart, better known as Chief Keef has been lauded by some as a savior of rap music and reviled by others as an irresponsible kid who promotes violence amongst his peers. In a matter of a year, his fan base expanded from an amorphous network of Chicago high school-ers on their cell phones to the massive audience brought about by a major label PR budget. Not one but two of his music videos have accumulated over 20,000,000 views on Youtube, and almost every major critical publication has come out either in support of, or at least respectably acknowledged, his work. On the other hand, the Chicago District Attorney’s office is doing its best to put Cozart in jail, and many see him as nothing more than an irresponsible teenager, or worse. However, trying to neatly pigeonhole Chief Keef as either a heroic postmodern poet or a delinquent is the wrong way to approach the study of this fascinating, walking talking piece of media. Chief Keef is both of these things.
Fellow Chicago rapper Rhymefest, in a blog post that shines an incredible amount of light on the nature of Chief Keef’s position, called the young rapper a “bomb”, an incredibly powerful force that is unleashed upon whoever it is dropped upon. The deployment of this “weapon” is integral to how rap fans and the general public alike will perceive Keef, but more importantly, it will determine how Cozart’s career life will proceed. The result depends on whether Keef is being positioned as a cash cow, reinforcing dangerous stereotypes and leading young people into destructive behavior or whether he will emerge as a voice that expresses the pain of his life and those of his peers in a way that is visceral enough to move people to change.
Hit the jump to read on…