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Keep Chief Keef Weird

How does one explain Chief Keef's recent, experimental-leaning output? You get just as weird as him.
August 26, 2013, 5:20pm


A minimally-appointed bedroom. Neat but cheerless.

BAUCE SAUCE lays atop his air mattress with his laptop planted firmly on his crotch. The laptop's deficient cooling system sends warmth to his loins. Adorned with Beats by Dre UrBeats, his ear canals swirl with a faint rhythm that we cannot yet hear.

In spite of being alone, his body engages in the infantile stages of turning up. It is instinctual, dictated by millions of years of evolution. It starts with a distant shiver, a shake. First, his head subtly slices through the air like a snake's slither. Next, his shoulders sway to the snare. Following suit are his arms, undulating like the rarest wave, as fluid and graceful as a Manta Ray's wing. He is cooking. Somewhere in the universe Guy Fieri feels a pang in his frosted tips.


Spotify is open. He succumbs to sleep, letting Chief Keef's dulcet tones usher him into a dream world.




Fans are fickle. They lose interest in an artist they've supported for years because they've begun to diverge from their "core" sound. Fans flee because the artist has achieved more fame than they'd like. It's no wonder artist progression is complicated with unpredictable results. Change too much? An artist risks alienating their initial fans at a rate higher than they can bring in new ones. Don't change at all? Well, let's just hope their one-trick pony's one trick is compelling enough.

[Enter CHIEF KEEF, solus]

When the media presented Keef to the masses, they portrayed him as a funhouse mirror, amplifying and reflecting the murderous, lawless tendencies of Chicago's youth. Though I don't believe that's necessarily fair, I do think that type of hyperbole will ultimately happen when the image you cultivate (on purpose or unintentional) is that of violence.

"Here is a teenager with no regard for human life!" they decried, "What hast thou wrought, Chicago?"

Two fundamental differences exist between Chief Keef and the artist posted below him on your favorite rap blog: 1) Keef never needed the spotlight. 2) Keef never sought out the spotlight. Keef had regional success before blogs. He could exist forever as a mainstream fringe artist, flirting with "mainstream success" via the occasional big-name song feature, but staying relevant from a deluge of mixtapes. He could be the Chicago Curren$y, and he'd be fine with that.


Chief Keef does what Chief Keef wants. Whereas Kid Cudi would hang out in Kanye's atrium thinking about every possible reaction to every song he created and adjust accordingly, Keef doesn't lose sleep. HAUHAUHAU if you thought Chief Keef had one iota of a fuck to give. Chief Keef is simply Chief Keef. That's refreshing.

His latest crop of songs are… different. Hitherto, he often relied on abbreviated lines, which gave him space for ad-libs and comprehension. Now? Rife with Autotune and shrouded in reverb and delay, his verses are nearly indecipherable, and they are somehow more glorious. Keef seems to be wrapping the nihilism of drill in the attractive, pitch-altered warble indicative of "New Atlanta." He's signed to Bricksquad. It makes sense. Gucci/Waka were influencers of Drill, and now he's more in touch with that ATL scene. Keef is pioneering semi-unintelligible moan rap, and we probably most likely hopefully have Young Thug to thank for that. It's important to note that Keef tweeted Young Thug lyrics then Young Thug announced a Keef/Thug collaborative mixtape but then later deleted the tweets announcing it. :(

It's rather fitting that he announced the release date for Bang Pt. 2 via the "Citgo" music video— his original weird song.



The story behind "Citgo" is as bizarre as the track itself. Keef searched for "Finally Rich type beat" on Youtube and found an instrumental by an 18 year old from Poland. Keef's cadence has always been naturally berceuse, and on "Citgo" it shines like a reassuring nightlight. The noticeable absence of snare creates a trance-inducing lullaby quality, an audible version of floating through a cumulus-cloud. Keef even creates an entirely new word in "ifshegottafatassthenyouknowthatimmafuckher." If you solve the Da Vinci Code, it leads to a briefcase with a flash drive on it. The only file on that flash drive is "Citgo." This is ground zero for Weird Chief Keef, and it is majestic. Moreover, the video highlights the resurgence of four-wheelers in music videos, which is a prayer we have made daily for a decade now.




Keef continued venturing into avant-garde territory on the stellar backside of Bang Pt. 2 with songs like "Hoez N Oz," "No It Don't," "3," "Gotta Glo Up One Day" and "Hard Way." He willingly sacrifices clarity for discordant noise, comprehensibility for asynchronous vocals. With run times averaging less than two minutes, Bang Pt. 2 is training camp. He is testing what works; he's trying things out. All of these songs have redeeming qualities, and affirm that Keef will continue in this direction as he prepares to drop Almighty So next month. He's working out the kinks.



As life-changing as those songs are, they are but quirky IEDs when compared to the surrealist atom bomb that is "Go To Jail." Released a month prior to Bang Pt. 2, "Go To Jail" proves an amalgam. The first 36 seconds contain words from no known human language. One scholar postulates that the intro is a rare recording of a wild snow leopard in the last few moments of its life. Another believes it to be a Sasquatch birth. Rap Genius skips over the intro all together, simultaneously certifying its mystery and their fallibility. Keef reserves the pitch-corrected overlapping vocal tracks to the chorus and returns to rapping short bars that allow his ad-libs to echo uninterrupted, which gives the song much-needed breathing room. He metaphorically heats up the ice cubes. It's the best of both worlds.

Keef reaches the pinnacle at 2:59. I picture him sitting shirtless with tens of thousands of dollars counting it one $100 bill at a time saying "Money loves me. Money loves me not." Spoiler alert: he has an odd number of bills. These two lines show emotional growth and maturity from his earlier days where he spouted such lines as: "She say she love me… whatever that is.". He wasn't even capable of understanding the concept of love a year ago. Now, he has found his one true counterpart— money. Keef then crests that pinnacle at 3:05 where he expertly rhymes the onomatopoeia his gun makes when fired and the sound his wounded victim will make (even multisyallabic rhyming this scheme for several bars prior):


"Try to take my shit let the chopper flop like graaahrraaaahhhghhh rrraaagghhggghraaaghhh
Chopper goin for em like Graaghhhgg graahhhhhagghhh
Leave a nigga like aaaaaaaagghhhh agghhhhghhhAAAAAAAGGGGHHHH"

These lyrics single-handedly void Noam Chomsky's entire existence. "Go To Jail" is truly the most spellbinding song of 2013.


Let artists progress for better or worse. Silently exit the bandwagon, or commend them for innovation, but refrain from the trite "all change is bad" commentary and "I liked [artist] better before…" rhetoric. Though it's certainly important that as a fan/consumer we like the end result, we shouldn't blindly dismiss it if we don't, especially if that change yields something compelling. And, in a world of mass-produced trends and paint-by-number content creation, that's all we can really ask for, really hope for. More different. Less of the same, please. Don't clamor for the old Chief Keef; don't lament the "3hunna"-era Chief keef. Embrace the new Chief Keef. Portland has had its moment. Let's keep Chief Keef weird, Internet.


Bauce Sauce is a total madman. He's on Twitter - @BauceSauce