Chief Keef was not a topic I wished to write about anytime soon. Yeah, the guy had a hot beat, but his verse on it was complete trash, and I’d rather ignore the lame and promote the dope than spend time and shed even more light on something I didn’t want to hear in the first place. Besides, the homies at TSS already handled it well multiple times. But enough is enough, let’s end his 15 minutes. Yeah, I’m hating.
This week one of Keef’s rivals passed away due to bullet wounds. Something that was apparently hilarious to Interscope’s newest ‘talent.’ Then he started beefing with Lupe over his sadness with Chicago’s staggering murder rate and the culture of nihilism and disregard for human life Keef actively portrays.
I cant go 4 that @chiefkeef & i cant let the people i love, including you my nigga, go 4 that either. We kings not fucking savages and goons
— Lupe Fiasco (@LupeFiasco) September 5, 2012
Keef’s rap is mostly devoid of any sort of creativity, which should be sufficient reason to not give him a pass, but apologists of Keef’s hyperviolent nihilistic rap often invoke hip-hop’s rich past of gangsta rap as an example of Keef doing nothing new. There’s a big difference though. Back in the late ’80s people knew Kool G. Rap wasn’t running the mob and Ice Cube wasn’t randomly shooting cops. They inhabited characters they invented, artful exaggerations extrapolated from their real-life experience. Sure, there were connections to their lives but they were essentially telling fictional tales, apparent to anyone who wasn’t actively wondering why these guys weren’t constantly in jail. There’s no denying there were dark tales that glorified heinous acts in a lot of gangster rap, but there were various artistic vantage points taken in doing so. And for all these gangster stories, there were as many lamenting the dark side of ghetto life as there were glorifying it. In the early ’90s many rappers were even involved with the Stop The Violence movement, a rap movement spearheaded by a man holding a gun on his debut album cover no less, dedicated to keeping blood off the streets. There was a constant discussion, a push and pull resulting in an uneasy but necessary balance to the culture as a whole. Gangsta rap could be ugly, it could be tragic, it could be gloriously violent and it could be melancholic. Most importantly though, it was a richly faceted subgenre of an even more diverse culture.
When the successors of early gangsta rap eventually did take things too far, and the east/west coast war transcended wax and spilled real blood into the streets, the rap game knew it had to take a step back. We lost two of our biggest icons, talented men who are remembered and missed ’til this very day and whose deaths ultimately shaped the genre as much, or maybe even more, as their lives did. The rap world took a second to recover and almost unanimously decided this was a route we should take never again. It didn’t end beef by a long shot, but the value of human life was clearly recognized, losses were mourned, and subsequent high profile battles stayed on wax, or at least didn’t deteriorate towards fatal altercations.
Keef is only a kid. And so was his dead rival JoJo. Kids do and say dumb things, it’s a part of growing up and they should be allowed to do so. But when those stupid things involve lethal weaponry, the loss of life and the disgusting amount of casualness that on display here, something is very, very wrong.
Of course, Chief Keef isn’t the problem. He’s a symptom of a much larger issue. When kids grow up into an evironment filled with violence it’s no surprise they grow up desensitized to it. There are entire organizations set up to help (former) child soldiers in third world countries return to society, deal with their traumas and make them see the value of human life again. Yet in the worst hoods of our own ‘first’ world these victims of an invisible war are ignored, dismissed or worst of all, turned into entertainment for the masses.
Kids like Keef need help. I’m no psychiatrist but his utter lack of empathy and promotion of more violence can not possibly be construed as healthy behaviour by anyone. The last thing he needs is international superstars condoning this to ride their way to another hit and multinational corporations egging him on with stupendous amounts of money. We shouldn’t encourage the spokespersons of our culture to encourage destruction on this scale or turn a blind eye towards the horrible lives of kids in our cities as long as they’re ‘caking’ off it. We certainly shouldn’t encourage major labels elevating it to entertainment and promoting this life to other kids. There is nothing cool about living a life like Keef and his peers do, on the contrary. It’s a f***ing tragedy and it’s a disgusting failure on the part of our western society that it can still exist in the world’s largest economy and oldest modern democracy. There are real people there that are dying, children even.
Now that’s that shit that I don’t like.