Glo Gang/RBC Records
Glo Gang/RBC Records

Although relative, the passage of time can lead to ones personal maturation and growth, resulting in them becoming a near polar opposite of who they were once before. Chicago rapper Chief Keef can be used as a case study under that lens, as he has come a long way from being considered America's worst nightmare and symbolic of the gang violence and rising murder in his hometown, to a figure that is as comfortable collecting art as he is heavy artillery.

Spending the early years of his career in a whirlwind of controversy while churning out street anthems and crossover hits, Keef ultimately signed and lost a record deal with Interscope Records—worth upwards of $1 million—became a father and even spent time behind bars. Now 21, and having removed himself from much of the drama that engulfed him as a result of a relocation to Los Angeles, Chief Keef has started 2017 off with a bang, releasing the mixtape Two Zero One Seven in January, and following that up with his new project, Thot Breaker.

His first effort since 2015's Nobody 2, Thot Breaker makes for a change of pace in terms of what listeners can expect from Keef, as he barters his trigger-happy tales of menace for sugary ballads over sunny backdrops. Partaking in the sonic structure of Thot Breaker, the rapper scores multiple production credits on the album, one of them being "Alone (Intro)," flush with adlibs, percussion and sinister keys. "You should go and want to live your life/I am not trying to read you your rights," Keef raps, as he avoids commitment, opting to pursue relations with no strings attached.

He goes on to court a lady that's caught his eye on the uptempo "Can You Be My Friend." Produced by Chief Keef, CBMix and Young Chop, the song's backdrop contains subtle dancehall vibes, with jittery synths and a hearty bass serving as its foundation, and finds Sosa getting his croon on. "Girl you look fine like wine/Loan me some of your time," he delivers, making his case as a prospective lover and confidant. Although Keef is more focused on playing a Casanova than he is a gun-toting, drug-induced savage on Thot Breaker, he hasn't completely removed himself from the lifestyle on the musical tip. The Glo Gang leader chants, "My baby is the dope" on the D. Rich-produced standout "My Baby," before flashing fashion on "Couple of Coats."

CBMix helms the boards on "You My Number One," a song dedicated to the apple of Keef's eye that is among the more sappy offerings on Thot Breaker. However, the rapper reasserts himself on the KE on the Track-produced cut "Drank Head," on which the dreaded rhyme slinger boasts about his refined taste for lean and separating himself from novice sippers. Longtime collaborator Young Chop makes an appearance on "Slow Dance," a sentimental offering on which Chief Keef is apologetic for his philandering ways, belting, "You're so strong, can I come home?" over slow-rolling synths and keys on what is among the more sparse compositions on his latest collection.

On "Going Home," the CBMIX and Hollywood J-produced closing selection on Thot Breaker, Keef ends the album in jubilant fashion. "She gon' slop on my knob like a corn on the cob/But we can't go out in public, there's paparazzi to dodge/As I'm droppin' the top, told her shoot for the stars/I know she gon' love me because every woman does," Sosa muses.

In a world in which mumble rap is currently all the rage, Chief Keef, one of its most influential and divisive figures, has taken a backseat of sorts following his departure from the major label system. His buzz has been supplanted by a fresher crop of artists redefining what constitutes as rap while attaining crossover stardom. Thot Breaker, which falls in line with the current trend of albums dominated by female-friendly content, looks to get Chief Keef back in the mix and is a refreshing effort on his part, showcasing a dimension of his artistry and personality that belies his gruff exterior.

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