Chicago has a rich hip-hop history, producing many artists who came to represent “conscious rap”, the likes of Common, Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West. Perhaps this is why Chicago’s most recent star has faced
a wave of criticism by fans and media alike. Chief Keef is the opposite of the cultural movement Chicago popularised throughout the 2000’s. Yet his single “I Don’t Like”, became one of the most recognisable rap songs of last year. But with his macho posturings and brain dead raps about murder. Keef sums up everything that’s wrong with commercial hip-hop.
The inescapable truth is – he can’t rap, which becomes glaringly obvious over a full length album. Yet it didn’t prevent Interscope from offering him a multimillion pound contract. Hence the LP title “Finally Rich”. The deal has raised deeper questions which relate to corporate America and it’s agenda for rap music. Anybody familiar with the underground scene in Chicago would surely point to Add-2 as it’s brightest talent. His lyrics deal with political issues and realistic portrayals of ghetto life. But while Add-2 struggles for exposure, Chief Keef has a whole machine behind him.So just how popular do you have to be to secure Interscope’s backing? it may come as a surprise to some, but the answer is not very. The likes of Keef come along quite often, with YouTube been the platform of choice for his ilk. Rather than responding to an artists fan base, the labels realise they are in control of shaping what kids watch. It’s important to note that YouTube itself has exposed companies tampering with views in order to create the illusion of success. If the popularity of an artist is basically fabricated until it becomes a reality, then it’s safe to assume the standard of lyrical content is been dictated to listeners as opposed to hip-hop fans gravitating towards it.
This unfortunate development, holds consequences not just for hip-hop, but for the city of Chicago as a whole. The city has become notorious for it’s unusually high homicide rates and thus it has raised a few eyebrows as to why Keef has been chosen by Interscope at this time. One Chicago native, a rapper turned politician, Che Smith aka Rhymefest, has held nothing back in his opinion on Keef, describing him as a “spokesman for the Prison Industrial Complex“. Rhymefest was a ghost writer on Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” and gained success in 2006 with his album “Blue Collar”. In a recent interview Rhymefest asked