After a catchy single and gritty homemade music video, Chief Keef exploded onto rap's radar. There was a bidding war, a high-powered Kanye West collaboration and lucrative deal with Jimmy Iovine's Interscope Records, and now, the Chicago native stands as one of MTV Jams' 2012 Fab 5 inductees.
"Chief Keef is a young boy from Chicago that came through the struggle," Keef told MTV News in third person. "He's got his own style. He ain't like everybody else. He talks about what's real. He been through hell and back."
Conceived on MTV Jams in 2005, the Fab 5 is a collection of the year's most outstanding new hip-hop artists who have made an impact on everything from touring to releasing their debut albums. Fab 5 alumni include Juelz Santana, Young Jeezy, Drake, Big Sean and Meek Mill. This year, MTV Jams, MTV News and "Sucker Free" will bring you 2012's hottest hip-hop upstarts, and A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Machine Gun Kelly and Chief Keef are among the brightest.
It was March 2012 when Keef dropped the gun-waving music video for his breakout track "I Don't Like" with Lil Reese. With just over 12 million YouTube clicks in five months, Keef has become the most talked-about rap rookie, receiving co-signs for some pretty heavy-hitters. Not only did "I Don't Like" get a Kanye West makeover; industry power players were all making moves to sign him. "I like him. He kinda remind me of us," Birdman told MTV News back in May.
"Chief Keef, I feel like he represents a part of America," T.I. told MTV News in June after he brought the rap teen out at Atlanta's annual Birthday Bash concert. "He represents a part of the youth in America that ain't really got a voice right now. We looking at 'em, and we're seeing the results of their actions, but we ain't really listening to 'em, and I think you gotta have a representative of each generation in order to understand what they dealing with."
Even R. Kelly, who rarely grants interviews, had great things to say about the youngster. "I feel really good that Chief Keef and all of those guys, those guys are from my 'hood, so I'm definitely proud of the fact that finally Chicago has got the light on 'em," Kells told MTV News when he paid us a visit in July.
On the very same night, Keef announced to MTV News that the bidding war had ended and he chose Interscope as his recording home. "I've been talkin' to a lot of labels, but I just noticed that Interscope got people like 50, Eminem," he said.
Check back next Monday to find out who will join Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Machine Gun Kelly and Chief Keef in the Fab 5. And tune in to "RapFix Live" on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, where each artist will be highlighted.