Go to Gawker right now and you’ll read about Chief Keef, a 16-Year-old rapper from Chicago’s south side, who the online gossip mag is applauding as “hip-hop’s next big thing.” As the story goes, this upstart gained heavy notoriety for his brash brand of senseless raps after he pointed a gun at police and was arrested for unlawful use of a weapon late last December, causing his exclusive fanbase of Cook County school kids to spread his songs all across the Windy City. Now, only a few months after the incident, he’s gone viral with music videos closing in on a million hits, ties to Soulja Boy and half the kids in Chicago echoing his best known song and favorite adlib, “Bang.”
If you don’t see a problem with all this, let me quickly elaborate.
South Chicago is a damn war zone. Renowned for having the highest murder rate in the country, this is where young Keef calls home. It’s also where he’s recruiting legions of adolescent supporters, who seem to range anywhere from eight to 18-years-old and can be seen reciting their new favorite rapper’s continual barrage of bullet-blasting lyrics in any one of the grainy videos currently working their way up YouTube’s priority list. And, while encouraging these smiling kids to curl up their trigger-fingers for the camera before they’re old enough to sit in the front seat of a car is working for the new Chief of Chi-Town, the examples he’s setting along the way are flat-out disgusting.
It’s bad enough the young troublemaker insists on rapping about killing cops and robbing on sight, despite only recently being allowed to buy cigarettes. But, encouraging his neighborhood youths to follow suit is about the most counterproductive thing that could ever happen to them. And Chief has a more palpable connection to these kids than your average gangster rapper because he’s from their area, living the criminal life he talks about and is still “famous” and on his way to possible superstardom. Yes, Ice T was a “cop killer,” but he was also in his 30s and lived pretty reasonably on the right side of the tracks if you did enough biographical digging. Kids acting belligerent for the camera may seem harmless, but when such feeble minds are seeing themselves getting Internet famous by imitating a criminal-minded high school dropout, how the hell are blue-collar parents going to get through to their children with limited resources and a completely opposing viewpoint? Basically, Chief Keef’s using shock value to get himself out of a negative environment, while carelessly setting up his baby-faced followers for would-be failure. Twisted irony at its finest, folks.
Quite frankly though, for as disturbing as this whole scenario is, you can’t blame Keef. After coming up with nothing in a place where you cross your fingers and hope to see tomorrow, Keef saw an opportunity and took it. All he does is push the product, while the Internet buys it up by the bulk. Let’s face it, had Gawker not put together that feature on the bull-headed Chicago kid, this one would not have been written. However, instead of just applauding the hype machine that’s carrying Keef on its shoulders, we’re trying to offer a realistic point of view and show listeners the how and why, opposed to just saying “this is the guy you should listen to.” Because, truthfully, this isn’t the guy you should be listening to, unless you’re old enough to understand the consequences of such reckless songs or young enough not to care.
The problem is that sense of ignorance in itself has become our society’s biggest problem and putting people like Chief Keef on a pedestal is only setting us all back even further, which is unnecessary when you consider so many other artists are leading by example and can’t catch a break.
Coincidentally, Keef’s newest musical offering, the Back From The Dead mixtape, dropped yesterday and is available for free download here, while music videos for “Bang” and “Aimed At You” can be seen below.
Listen at your own risk.