It used to be that rookie rappers recorded demos and went through a period of artist development before releasing a major-label LP, but those days are long gone. Today, mixtapes are the new demos and the concept of developing new rap talent in a romanticized hip-hop incubator is antiquated.
Just look at Chief Keef, the Chicago teen rapper who crept into our collective consciousness back in March and now has a full-length major-label rap debut in stores (and his first scheduled appearance on [article id="1699033"]"RapFix Live"[/article] Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET).
Finally Rich, Keef's rabblerousing LP, which was released on Tuesday (December 18) of course features his infectious and murderous breakout single "I Don't Like" as well as Drake's favorite "Love Sosa."
In the large, Keef's appeal isn't in his lyrics or heightened musical sense; most fans seem to be attracted to the teenager's unfiltered street perspective. The video for "I Don't Like" is set in a non-descript, sparsely decorated home as Keef and his GBE crew smoke weed, bounce around shirtless and wave guns at the camera. It may not sound like much, but with more than 20 million views on YouTube, the appeal is very real. Keef's "Love Sosa" follows the same formula (minus the guns) and yields pretty much the same results netting the youngster another 20-million-views clip.
Then, of course, there were the real-life controversies: run-in with the law, digital rap beef with Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West criticisms and [article id="1697542"]absentee video shoots[/article].
It isn't broke, and on Finally Rich, Keef makes little attempt to make any fixes. Most of the LP's production is handled by "I Don't Like" and "Love Sosa" producer Young Chop and even when the maestro changes, the subject matter doesn't. On the Mike Will Made It-produced "No Tomorrow," Keef raps about his carefree lifestyle and on "Citgo" he rhymes about his affinity for good smoke, bad girls and gun-busting.
Keef clearly has a sense of self. While other rap neophytes can often conform, especially when collaborating with more established acts, Keef stays Keef. 50 Cent delivers an unforgettable performance on "Hate Bein' Sober," spitting a southern-fried 16, with a measured cadence where every word is delivered clearly and right on time. CK, on the other hand, drops a gritty and sometimes garbled rap about getting high, drunk women and once again, gun-busting. On the Young Jeezy-assisted "Understand Me," Keef actually influences the veteran Snowman to adopt his "I Don't Like" flow. "Fake ass n---as, that's the sh-- I don't like/ Kilogram flow that's the sh-- I don't write," Young spits.
Yes, the young rapper's rise may have come quickly, but that doesn't make it any less real. Finally Rich marks the official arrival, how long he sticks around is entirely up to Chief Keef.
What do you think of Chief Keef's Finally Rich LP? Let us know in the comments!