There’s no other lyricist out there right now – or in recent memory for that matter – that has polarized the nation like Chicago mixtape upstart Chief Keef has. He’s either beloved or maligned. An inspirational story or a discouraging reality. Exalted as the voice of the youth or condemned as a menace to society. All this before even releasing a proper full length. And at just 17-years-old it couldn’t be a more compelling story.
His debut album Finally Rich is an uncensored glimpse into his life, an open book that glamorizes everything from his relentless pursuit of money to the dog-eat-dog world of street life. It’s honest and without a shred of self-consciousness. But lyrically it’s simply too self-indulgent, an ineptitude that reflects inexperience at almost every turn.
The lackluster punch lines and absence of complex metaphors create a one-dimensional narrative – half-baked with little room for progressive creativity. He relies too much on esoteric cadences to portray a complex lifestyle that is rife with contention and venom. The opener “Love Sosa” embodies Keef’s adolescent belief that it isn’t always what you say, but how you say it:
Fucking with those O boys, you gon’ get fucked over
Rari’s and Rovers
These hoes love Chief Sosa
Hit him with that cobra, now that boy slumped over
His tidy interpretations of street life trudge on at a boorish rate. There’s no variation in style whatsoever and all that there is for Keef to hang his hat on is a limitless supply of ego and braggadocio – from the album’s lowbrow debut “I Don’t Like” to his forgetful collaborations with Rick Ross (“3Hunna“) and Young Jeezy (“Understand Me“).
Finally Rich is as raw and authentic as it comes, but for as uncensored as it is, it wears thin after a few songs, and quickly loses its appeal. Even sharing a track with heavy hitters like 50 Cent and Wiz Khalifa on “Hate Bein’ Sober” can’t pull Keef outside his box:
Cause we can’t spell sober
Ya know is, we smoke strong bruh
Watch me roll up
Cause I can’t spell sober
The topics that Chief Keef raps about have been rapped about a thousand times over. The only thing at this point that separates him from others is his raw accessibility. He knows this. And as long as he’s getting paid, he could care less. Which is refreshing at first, but ultimately generic in the end, as seen on the title cut:
Real nigga from the O (I’m finally rich)
Me and you ain’t the same
All these niggas follow my campaign
And all these bitches knowing my name (bitch I’m finally rich)
Keef is selling a lifestyle on Finally Rich. And because of that he’s been made a poster child for all things wrong in America, an unfair assessment and one that shouldn’t be leveraged against him. Finally Rich is exactly what the title implies: a shortsighted way of living; one that he may not be totally at fault for. But still, in the end, a garish and misguided lyrical debacle.