Chief Keef is without question the most polarizing figure in 2012 music. In the past year he’s gone from local recognition within Chicago circles to bona fide hip-hop star, Interscope record deal and all. Along the way he’s become the figurehead for the unforgiving Drill scene in a summer where murder rates reached ridiculous highs, causing more debate about the morality behind his existence on Interscope than his actual music.
There’s room to discuss his circumstances but those have been debated, beaten into the ground, and resurrected a painful number of times. What’s definite is the release of his debut record on Interscope, Finally Rich. After the lightning-in-a-bottle success of “I Don’t Like” along with a tip of the hat from Kanye, Keef’s status has risen quite a bit, and although Finally Rich doesn’t quite signify the arrival of the new gangster rap juggernaut, it’s the sound of a young artist piecing together a sound that’s already proven to be huge.
Case in point is the undeniable album highlight “Love Sosa”. Chief Keef is not a strong technical rapper and lyrically he doesn’t stray far from his path. But given a crushing Young Chop instrumental and a relentlessly catchy hook, the resulting track is a sum greater than the individual pieces. Vital in this picture is breakout producer Young Chop, whose simplistic bangers worm deeper in your brain than they really should. Elsewhere a similar formula meets with success on cuts “I Don’t Like” and “Hate Bein’ Sober”, the latter featuring a dormant 50 Cent snapping to life before Wiz Khalifa sleepwalks through the final verse.
Repackaged into a lean five- or six-track Finally Rich EP this thing would be as close to perfect as an EP from Chief Keef could be. Somewhere near the drowned-in-Auto-Tune “Kay Kay” and the abomination that is “Laughin’ To The Bank”, the album starts to lose momentum. A smart move from Keef is the fact that the album barely clocks in over 40 minutes, so it wraps up before things get too draining.
Finally Rich might succeed in being the least divisive move of his career so far. It’s not great, but any complete takedowns are unjustified. As a teenager Keef has shown the ability to create anthem status songs that most artists dream of reaching at some point in their career. Sadly the full album just isn’t there yet. One thing is for sure though; even if we say otherwise, we’re all still paying attention.