For our Freshman Class of 2013 issue, Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten flew to Chicago to spend a day with Chief Keef, just days after he was released from juvenile detention. Check out the feature story, outtakes from our exclusive photo shoot and a sneak video from his home below.
[photos courtesy of Brian Sorg]
Home Style: Twelve Things We Learned Visiting Chief Keef at His New House
by Vanessa Satten
Last October, Chief Keef was one of the first rappers locked down for the XXL Freshman Class of 2013. At the time, the dreadlocked teenager had just signed to Interscope Records off the strength of his regional-gone-national hits “I Don’t Like” and “Love Sosa.” But things didn’t go as planned. By the time the photo shoot took place this past February, the Southside Chicago native had dropped his debut album, Finally Rich, but had also been sentenced to 60 days in jail for his appearance in a video on Pitchfork.com that showed him firing guns at a New York City shooting range. This broke the probation agreement he signed after 2011 arrests for distributing heroin and pointing a gun at a police officer—crimes for which he spent most of 2012 under house confinement.
But while he couldn’t take part in the group photo shoot, Keef is still an official member of 2013’s XXL Freshman Class. Despite all the drama and the last minute album release, the 17-year-old rapper fits in with the rest of the newjack MCs from this group. On a chilly afternoon in March, a week after his release from jail, the “11th Freshman” invited us to his three-story, four-bedroom house in Northbrook, an upper middle class village a 35-minute drive from his grandmother’s house on the Southside where he grew up.
Purchased just a month before he was locked up, the massive digs has more empty rooms than furnished. The famously taciturn Keef records his music in a room on the top floor furnished with two desks, two chairs, a computer and speakers. The windows look out to the neighbor’s houses and yards. Taking a break from work, he joins us in the living room (brown leather sectional, coffee table, large flatscreen) where he munches on some Chinese food and plays with his 1-year-old daughter, Kay Kay. Here are the 12 most interesting things we learned while we were there.
1) One of Keef’s managers paid him $10,000 to do this interview.
2) Keef microwaves his blunts for exactly 30 seconds before he smokes them. “It dries it out,” he says.
3) Born in 1995, on August 15, Keef is a Leo.
4) Having collaborated with artists such as 50 Cent, Wiz Khalifa, Gucci Mane, and Mike WiLL Made It, he’d like to break into some more pop territory. “I’d like to work with Rihanna and Verse Simmonds,” he says.
5) He shrugs off the scandal that resulted from his skipping the video shoot for the 50/Wiz collabo, “Hate Being Sober.” Even though it was Keef’s own song, and the two megastars did indeed show up for the taping, Keef just says his absence was not meant as disrespect. “I have a lot of stuff to do,” he says. “It ain’t the end of the world. I’m still here. There’s gonna be another day.”
6) He knew he could get in trouble for filming a segment at a gun range with Pitchfork, but he filmed it anyway. “I thought I wasn’t gonna get booked for it because I said it was the label’s fault,” he says. “But then they still booked me, so I wasn’t surprised either or. But I only got 60 days ’cause I said no to a 30-day. I didn’t wanna be locked up, period. Told them I wanted to do my last five months of probation. I made a big scene, though. I was frontin’ my move. Wasn’t nothin’ big.”
7) He didn’t get celebrity treatment in jail. “It wasn’t special,” he says of his situation. “I got some special stuff though, but it was normal. But I wasn’t really with nobody. I wasn’t around nobody. Well, I was around a couple of people but I did a lot of stuff by myself. But it was normal. Normal room, normal all that. But I ain’t have normal soap or normal toothpaste. Everybody didn’t, though.”
8) He wrote 300 songs while he was in jail—10 of which he recorded the night he got home. “I wrote about normal stuff,” he says of his jailtime lyrics. “As if I would write if I was out.”
9) His first performance out of jail was scheduled to be at this year’s South By Southwest Festival, but Chief didn’t attend because he wanted to spend time with his daughter, Kay Kay.
10) Kay Kay and her daddy often wear matching sneakers. Jordan brand is a favorite.
11) Although he doesn’t have any official plans yet, Keef likes the idea of releasing his music on holidays. “July Fourth,” he says, speculating on a release date for some music down the line.
12) Based on his limited experience in the music business, Keef doesn’t quite know what to make of it yet. “I just know about myself,” he explains. “I think it’s two-faced, but I don’t know.”
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