The danger behind Chief Keef is real. Rumor has it that Chief Keef, at a mere sixteen years old (or 3hunna, as he likes to refer to his age), was involved in a gunfight with police that many thought had left him dead. While serving house arrest he released this Back From The Dead mixtape (hence the title). Whether or not this rumor stands true, there is a shocking truth and reality behind Keef’s music that you do not hear from your average street rapper. Sure, maybe once upon a time T.I. sold drugs, sure maybe Waka Flocka’s buddies are actually killers, but are these rappers actually out in the streets doing these things when they’re not in the studio? Chances are – no. The reality you get with Chief Keef feels like the same reality you get when you listen to someone like Jay-Z. When Jay-Z “30 million can’t hurt me”, you feel the truth behind it – if Hov lost thirty million dollars he would still be well off. When Chief Keef says “Take ya ass down we need them bricks or something” it is real. Too real for a juvenile from one of the most gang-ridden cities in the country. But I digress.
The morality behind what Chief Keef has (allegedly) done is not what’s being brought to light in this review. His mixtape Back From The Dead is a direct product of the Chicago’s ghettos. Produced almost wholly by DJ Moondawg and Victorious, Back From The Dead’s production alone sets up a vivd picture a street grit. Although Chief Keef’s lyrics are reminiscent of nursery rhymes, the youngster does possess the ability to catch and create melodies – his hooks are very well structured, he knows how to put together a song, which is more than you can say for your local generic street rapper. The albums lead single “I Don’t Like” has caught the ear of music superstars Chris Brown and Kanye West. The “3hunna Remix” featuring Soulja Boy is an intimidating braggadocios street anthem that features the SODMG CEO putting on his best auto-tuned Chief Keef impression, though it isn’t bad enough to ruin the song. The production on the “3hunna Remix” features a ferocious bass-line as the two rappers glide across the beat with a slow grinding flow that Keef set up in the chorus. But the song that probably speaks the most to Chief Keef’s life is “I Don’t Know Dem” a song that reflects many of the lives of youth caught in gang life. The song at its core is simple: because another young Black male stared at Chief Keef “Sosa” in a way that he did not like, he is going to kill him. As immature as it sounds, Keef delivers this song with the upmost seriousness and ferocity. In the midst of the vulgarity you begin to fade away from the fact that Mr. “Sosa” has crafted a complete hook-verse-hook-verse-hook song that held your attention for over four minutes.
Back From The Dead possesses what many trap albums lack – melodies and sadly, a scary truth behind the violent lyrics. One can not blame Chief Keef for being a product of his environment. Whether you feel that he is glorifying this lifestyle or simply reporting to the world what is happening in his hometown in first person point-of-view, you’d be hard pressed to deny the raw talent on this mixtape. Garnering the attention of the likes of Waka Flocka, Yo Gotti, and Birdman, Keef looks to release a vtrap-star studded Finally Rich mixtape at the top of next year. Though it is sad that past Back From The Dead’s highs and lows, Chief Keef sounds exactly like what we pray and work so hard for so our kids never amount to, a materialistic self-righteous misguided racketeer, and a rapper whose violent messages mean more to him than crafting lyrics. “I’m a True Religion Fiend