Over the course of the last year, Chief Keef hit a whole bunch of the milestones required for a storied rap career: the breakout single; the major label bidding war; cosigns and collaborations with the industry’s elite; magazine covers; rap beef; Twitter beef; street beef. All this unfolded as Chief Keef’s hometown—Chicago—experienced a surge in gang violence, becoming one of the most dangerous cities in the country. And the Windy City’s newest star seemed to not only embody the chaos of his hometown, but he embraced it, making him one of the most polarizing young artists of recent memory. So what becomes of Keef now? Has 2012’s fascinating storyline of Chief Keef and Chicago’s drill scene just about run its course? Is Chief Keef still the next big thing? And does his debut album Finally Rich answer either of these questions?
On the whole, the album is a slightly more welcoming, less threatening body of work than Back From The Dead, where relentless machine gun fire and ambulance sirens served as constant reminders of the mayhem from which Chief Keef emerged. This album’s title is a fitting one, as it seems newfound wealth and fame has surpassed bloodshed as Keef’s main talking point. Obvious singles “Love Sosa” and “Hate Being Sober” capture the excitement of BFTD, without the alienating subject matter. Equally responsible for the successes here is Keef’s go-to producer, Young Chop, who’s enjoying a 2010 Lex Luger-esque run, where even though all of his beats pretty much sound the same, listeners wouldn’t have it any other way.
Perhaps the most telling sign of Keef’s true potential can be seen in how he matches up on the album against the likes of 50 Cent, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, French Montana, and Wiz Khalifa. 50 is actually dynamic here and strengthens “Hate Being Sober,” but the rest get outshined in Keef and Chop’s world. Collaborations with Jeezy and French are arguably the album’s weakest efforts and “3 Hunna” gets downgraded by a posturing Ross verse in place of the undeniably more fun Soulja Boy version from BFTD.
Keef still remains a one-dimensional character, never breaking from the cold, detached charisma that’s defined him. On Finally Rich he continues to execute a specific type of song—consistently and at a high level. “I Don’t Like” still hasn’t lost its appeal, and much of his debut carries the same level of replay value. So people will love it. People will hate it. Chief Keef probably doesn’t care either way. He’s 17, and he’s finally rich. —Neil Martinez-Belkin (@Neil_MB)