Yesterday morning, Chicago police detained "drill" rap sensation Chief Keef—born Keith Cozart—in connection with a shooting in suburban Northfield, Ill. Hours earlier, Keef had posted photos of himself with fellow rapper Ballout posing with a submachine gun, a semi-automatic rifle, and three loaded Rugers. Just in case you were inclined to presume Keef's innocence.
As a general rule, I hate movie scenes that take place in the rain. Not necessarily because of the rain itself, but because whenever you see rain you know someone is sad, or in love, or sadly in love, or dying. I believe in the human capacity for imagination, and that we haven't come up with a better device to show melancholy or romance than some storm clouds and a light drizzle, kinda pisses me off.
Chief Keef's entrée into hip-hop earlier this year was a quick and unusual one. At 16, Keef had made a small name for himself on Chicago's south side with a handful of enthusiastic but poorly produced rap videos, the most promising of which was "I Don't Like." As its name portends, "I Don't Like" is a musical rundown of the things that chap Keef's hide, including bitch niggas, snitch niggas, and fake shoes. The video he recorded to accompany the song depicts him and his friends smoking a lot of weed, passing around a handgun, and dancing around his grandmother's house shirtless.
One night last week, Houston rapper/viral phenomenon Riff Raff was sitting in my living room in Brooklyn, eating a bag of Wise BBQ potato chips. The day before, he'd flown to Daytona Beach, Fla., to shoot a music video with 19-year-old viral rap ingénue Kitty Pryde, and now he was in New York to do photo shoots and interviews for two major rap magazines. He was scheduled to play The Bamboozle festival in New Jersey the following day. He sat on the couch next to the two attractive women that he'd brought with him—"my girl and her friend," he explained—and while his girl's friend rolled a small joint, Riff Raff and I played NBA Street Vol. 2 on my PlayStation 2.
Chief Keef, the 16-year-old unsigned rapper from Chicago, is still on house arrest at his Grandma's, but now he has a Kanye West remix to his name, because technology has had something of an effect on musical collaborations. Instead of recording in the studio together, Kanye sent some producers from his new label, G.O.O.D. music, to Keef's home in Chicago, where they set up a laptop and a microphone. Keef typed out a verse onto his iPhone on the spot, then yelled into a microphone for a few minutes, and this banger of a street remix was born.
Before he was arrested last December, Chief Keef, a 16-year-old hip-hop star, was almost completely unknown outside of Chicago's South Side. He had a song called "Bang," which had more than 400,000 views on YouTube, and he had a mixtape, and a dedicated following amongst Chicago high school students. But he was not a rapper who was known outside of the local high schools. His Facebook profile indicated that he worked as a sales rep for "Selling Dope." He lived with his grandmother.