Chief Keef‘s third studio album Dedication is an affirmation of all the values that have gotten him to where he’s at. It’s audacious and brash, but lacks the finesse of an artist who is now looked at as a veteran. There are moments where a new perspective shines through, but before that can take off he buries it under all the familiar tropes that he’s known for. It’s a project motivated purely by fandom and while it’ll appease his legion of loyalists, in the end it’ll do little for his legacy.

The production, as expected, is dark and menacing, a play on his warmongering style. It’s a redundant landscape that leads him down a familiar path. Going to battle against his naysayers is the motivating force, but an altogether unnecessary one. He’s made it and is living large as the CEO of his own company, but he’s choosing to play down to his level of competition.To go back to old standards make for a predictable listen, a misstep from an artist that many look at as an iconoclastic. It’s a disappointing return mired by mediocrity.

Ticket

A lush wall of synth reigns in from above like fire from the sky. It scorches the land and lays waste to all the natural surroundings, a perfect place for a rap pariah to hold court. He’s reasserting his wayward values and barking threats at all those who doubt his methods. He’s not mumbling and is much more coherent, but it only reveals what the world has known all along. He’s a rap dufus: [LISTEN]

Keke Palmer

The piano loops inject a dose of sophistication that has been lacking from his body of work. But the change of pace is not enough to overcome a litany of simple ideas and over exaggerations. It’s an audible interpretation of his social media feed; all the opulence, fast living and women. He knows he’s got the world in his hands, and like Scrooge McDuck he’s drooling over the wealth and power: [LISTEN]

Mailbox

At this point he considers himself an O.G., but instead of handing down benevolence he’s thumping skulls to make sure that he’s still top dog. The undercutting is a symptom of fear, a rapper who knows that younger, more talented artists are about to eclipse him. The beat is dark and menacing, and is meant to strike fear into his adversaries. But it doesn’t, only fizzles away like all his ideas do: [LISTEN]

Cook

The Chief Keef Food Network Channel gets its theme song. But instead of sumptuous delights, he’s burning ovens to address the long line of fiends outside. Pimps, players and hustlers are his muses; showing him that in order to maintain control he needs to be unforgiving and ruthless. The beat has a militaristic tone, signifying an ensuing battle. More drug glorying ballyhoo from a rap peon: [LISTEN]

Bad

The post apocalyptic beat has Keef feeling like a warrior. He’s marching through the streets with his squad, looking to reign terror on his competition. Bully ball is a common style for average lyricists who lack the skill and refinement to dismantle their opponents like a gentlemen. He’s a savage out on the field and firing off rounds aimlessly. It’s a game and he’s ready to go all in: [LISTEN]

Text

All the Chief Keef-isms come out in a torrent, a spicy declaration that has him flossing hard. It’s a hype song from beginning to end and his whole squad is invited to the party. The erratic high hats has him feeling light on his toes, and he’s looking to juke around his opponents as a way of disorientating them. He’s back in action and letting the world knows that he’s ripe and ready: [LISTEN]

Glory Bridge

Ominous bells usher in his reign of terror. He’s looking to pillage the land, but before that he needs to clear some space on his phone so he can save some numbers. Too many ladies are cramping his style, and the complaints only make his story of conquest that much more pathetic. All his big talk and he can’t help but touch sour notes that make it read more like bellyaching than war: [LISTEN]

Get It

A straight smoker that lives up to expectation. He’s finally letting his voice shine, proving that he has the chops to cut a beat in half. He’s after the golden egg and nothing will get in his way. It’s like a Chicago Bull running through traffic, smashing through CTA trains all the way to the UC. Even at an early age he knew that he wanted more, and despite all odds he went out and got it: [LISTEN]

Negro

A deep left cross to all the fanboys. He’s swatting them away like flies and the more he shakes off the more there are to follow. His chief complaint is that they think they share similar stories because they come from the same city, but Keef isn’t having any of it. He keeps his circle tight and his identity even tighter and the last thing he wants is an outsider to come in and muck things up: [LISTEN]

Less Speed

Despite the title, Keef is hitting the gas full throttle. He’s in the life and nothing can take him out of it; he’s packing heat at all times, even when eating his cereal and reading the funnies. Drugs are his product of choice, and he’s letting the world know that there’s no one better. As the source he’s entitled to certain liberties including gobs of cash, fast women and power: [LISTEN]

Come on Now

Of all the low down things he’s talked about, parking in a handicap spot is one of the worst. He’s also that guy that double parks, leaves shopping carts in spaces and tailgates. For him it doesn’t matter, he’s got the money to pay off whatever fines he piles up. If anything it’s a badge of honor, and the thought of seeing an old lady shake her fist at him is making him buckle in laughter: [LISTEN]

Kills

Back in the drug game and letting his competition know that he’s here to stay. He’s got his gun cocked and is ready to kill at a moment’s notice. He’s doing it all: selling, shipping, bagging and sealing. It’s also clear that he’s getting high off his own product. The endless circle of Chief Keef-isms are getting redundant and sloppy; a sleepy rendition of an all too familiar tune: [LISTEN]

Told Ya’ll

Keef takes a break from counting stacks to tell his naysayers that he made it. It’s a juvenile rant that shows how he’s unable to get past the hate game. Without it he has no sense of motivation and is unable to conjure up anything outside of cliches. He made it out of the hood, but is having trouble adjusting to a new life. His development has stalled and he’s reeling like a fish out of water: [LISTEN]

Let Me See

The beat storms in like gangbusters, setting the whole landscape on fire. The mood is set to explosive and it gives Keef the motivation to seek and destroy. He’s salivating and looking to quench his thirst with whatever luxurious item is nearby. His comrade Tadoe is egging him on, encouraging him to live the lifestyle he’s always wanted. They’re in the moment, moving at 100 mph with no brakes: [LISTEN]

Be Back

The beat is a simulated war zone; the spitfire hi-hats, the wayward lasers and thunderclaps. It’s a warning to all those looking to test him and his Chicago pedigree; that they’re better off going to Baghdad, which is a play on the tired Chiraq moniker. He’s living for today and is making sure he makes as much money and accumulates as much power as he can. A familiar theme, and still no progress: [LISTEN]