Music industry

Chief Keef changed the music industry – and it’s time he got the credit he deserves

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Prior to being arrested in December 2011, Chief Keef was a 16-year-old aspiring rap star. He had released a song, “Bang”, which had been viewed over 400,000 times on YouTube, as well as a mixtape he had recorded in a friend’s room. He also had a dedicated Twitter account among high school students in Chicago.

The track had a rawness unmatched to anything that came out at the time, and you couldn’t walk the streets of Chicago’s south side without hearing Bang’s lyrics vibrate from the stereos of the rolling cars:

 Choppers gettin' let off Now, they don't want no war 30 clips and them .45's, gotta go back to the sto' And that Kush gettin' smoked, gotta go back to the sto' Cock back 'cause there's trouble, my mans gon' blow 

Yet he was almost completely unknown outside of Chicago. His Facebook profile had less than 2,000 subscribers, he said his job was to “smoke dope” and that he still lived with his grandmother.

Nonetheless, the verses hastily written and circulated on social media by Chief Keef and his peers were quickly becoming a unique genre of ticker for Chicago’s low-income communities of color, detailing turf wars, rivalries and hassles. of everyday life as a Negro. child growing up in the city.

The songs became known as boring music, a genre characterized by its dark synths, booming 808 drums, seemingly quirky mumbled verses, and war-crying choral chants. Its vanguards – artists like Chief Keef, King Louie, G Herbo and Lil Durk – became local heroes by staying committed to the blocks and neighborhoods they rapped on SoundCloud and YouTube. Finally, the national press took over. The blanket was often less than flattering.

At the time, I was steeped in my own hip-hop music career, rapping under the nickname Naledge in the duo Kidz in the Hall. As I was driving around the country, I noticed that everyone from my home in Chicago was asking me if I had heard of this Keef kid who was from Washington Park.