Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: Chief Keef's Bad Week

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Chief Keef, Chicago’s worst rapper, isn't having a good album drop.

His debut CD, "Finally Rich," was the most-hyped album of the week. Even The New York Times reviewed it, calling it “relentlessly dark and sometimes lifeless, at least in the lyrics.” But it’s only expected to sell around 50,000 copies, a third of T.I.’s "Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head."

And then, Keef canceled his U.S. tour, just as it was about to launch in Philadelphia.

We’d like to say this is the result of Keef – who raps about gangbanging, who taunted a dead rival rapper on Twitter and who is on probation for pointing a gun at the Chicago police – having the bad taste to release his firearm-lovin’ album just three days after 20 children were shot to death at a Connecticut grade school. That’s why he deserves to fail. But that’s not why he’s failing.

"Finally Rich" likely won’t go gold because Chief Keef’s fans, who discovered him on YouTube, probably are not the kind of people who buy CDs. Why should they spend $14 when they’ve been seeing him for free all along?

The website allhiphop.com speculates that Keef’s neo-gangsta rap act may be just too dangerous for nightclubs:

It seems that Hip-Hop may be facing the same thing that they did in the 80s and early 90s. Back then, the insurance was very expensive for rappers considered dangerous or controversial. The recent events with Rick Ross and the GDz have suggested that his shows were cancelled for that very reason.

Don’t look for Keef’s fortunes to improve as he matures as an artist. He can’t mature. His appeal is in his immaturity – his affectlessness, his emotionlessness, his lack of lyrical sophistication.

The Chief Keef phenomenon is not about music. It’s about a teenager from the most dangerous neighborhood in Chicago who got a multimillion-dollar contract from a big record label. The CD is just an artifact representing that. If Chief Keef can get rich, any teenager from any hood can get rich. Keef has cleverly promoted that by placing a $5,000 “golden ticket” in one of his CD cases. It has not yet been discovered. Once it is, album sales will probably drop through the floor.

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