THE RETURN OF CHIEF KEEF

Five years ago, Chief Keef was hip-hop’s next big thing. Rising out of Chicago’s rough Englewood neighborhood with a hit single at the age of 16, the rapper, born Keith Farrelle Shantique Cozart, quickly became the most controversial artist in the industry. His original 2012 video for “I Don’t Like,” which was deleted from YouTube because it had too many guns in it, set the standard for gun-heavy, no-frills music videos moving forward, and the critical acclaim of his debut album, Finally Rich, from “hipster” publications like Spin and Pitchfork caused some to wonder whether rap’s moral center had moved too far to the White. His grasp of melody and catchy songwriting helped him elevate the homegrown drill sound to a national level, but most people outside Chicago had little understanding of how strong Keef’s grassroots support was within the city. Yet his widespread importance was immediately obvious: less than three months after Keef dropped “I Don’t Like” in 2012, Kanye hi-jacked it as the lead single for his upcoming G.O.O.D. Music album. A year later, Keef was one of only two rappers featured on Yeezus.

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