nick porcaro debuts for pop-break with a scathing hip hop review…
Well then. What, if anything, does Chief Keef like? Money. Cars. Clothes. Sex. Drugs. That’s about it. These are topics recycled ad nauseum on Finally Rich, the debut full-length from rap’s latest teen controversy. If you’re reading this with a look of disgust you may as well just close the window and move on. Nothing to see here.
Finally Rich opens on a high note with “Love Sosa,” as Keef mocks his “broke boy” counterparts over a propulsive and ethereal beat from frequent collaborator Young Chop. Keef’s sing-song delivery is infuriatingly catchy, mainly because he recycles this rhythm for the entire song. Cut to “Hallelujah” and we have the same case: catchy hook, verses sound identical to the chorus, and nothing new in terms of message. Keef’s approach as a rapper consists of finding one or two head-bob-worthy rhythms and running them right into the ground. The same goes for lyrics: “I got lots of commas” is just as lazy a lyric on “Citgo” as it is on “Love Sosa”, and Keef inexplicably feels compelled to remind us of GBE member Tadoe’s love for “Molly water” on nearly every track.
As a whole the album displays little progression from the blueprint of “I Don’t Like”, but the production on “Kay Kay” points to a melodic future for Keef’s menacing sound. Producer K.E. on the Track intricately layers some rigid piano twinkling, frantic hi-hats and hazy synths into a rich stew. The result is intoxicating, sure, but Keef’s performance hardly satisfies. He espouses the same misogynistic drivel as ever on a track named for his infant daughter: “Bitch won’t get none of my money, but in her mouth I’m coming.” Somewhere in Queensbridge NAS is facepalming like Captain Picard. (Look Mom, I can compose similes just like Chief Keef!)
Who the fuck let this out of Interscope’s listening room? How could someone consider it a good idea to pay a 17-year old single father from Chiraq to endorse a lifestyle that claims countless casualties, not to mention careers? Just look at DMX for a hint of what awaits Keef in ten years…if he’s alive by then.
Keef calls out the culprit on the bonus track “Kobe”: “Since I signed with Jimmy Iovine I swear I think that I’m Kobe”. Finally Rich serves little purpose. Its raison d’etre is to provide Iovine and co. with profit off the underground hits “I Don’t Like” and “3Hunna,” despite both being offered for free on several mixtapes. Additionally, it allows 50 Cent to launch yet another increasingly pitiful attempt at relevance with a forgettable feature on “Hate Being Sober”. (Let us never speak of that again.) Oh, last but certainly not least, it bumps in the whip.
This is the lone triumph of Finally Rich, in no small part thanks to Young Chop. There’s a reason why everyone from Gucci Mane to Pusha T is itching to collaborate with the 18-year old beatsmith. Chop is deft at sneaking melodic arrangements and pleasant chord progressions atop enormous beats rooted in the work of Lex Luger, the producer behind most of Waka Flocka Flame’s runaway debut Flockaveli. Young Chop makes Keef’s violent asides and blatant misogyny easier to digest. Between Keef’s monotonous delivery and copious slathering of Auto-Tune, it’s all too easy to miss the unsettling myopia of his lyrics.
Take “3Hunna,” for instance. On the surface it’s unquestionably the strongest track here. Guest rapper Rick Ross confidently cruises through the beat as he was wont to do before the letdown that was God Forgives, I Don’t. Keef’s brags are mercifully brief and leave plenty of room for Young Chop’s outlandish synth blasts to shine. Those insistent keyboard chords transform a by-the-numbers drum pattern into something like superhero trap music. It’s enough to make any hot-blooded person jump around the room like a toddler! Listen closely, though, and we find Keef’s shamelessly blunt thesis statement:
“A fuck nigga, don’t wanna be ya I like my bitch conceited, I’m Sosa bitch, Chief Keef (Sosa baby) My gun, don’t make me beat it.”
Even its title directly references the notorious Black Disciples gang. Will any of Keef’s listeners figure this out? Perhaps, but do they really care? Let’s not delve into Keef’s alleged ties to the September murder of Lil JoJo, a fellow rapper and affiliate of rival gang Gangster Disciples. That’s a whole other story. Are Iovine and Interscope to blame for perpetuating this uncomfortable situation? Somewhat, but anyone in the industry would be crazy to turn down an easy cash grab in these troubled times. Keef’s immediate success was a sure thing once Kanye West remixed “I Don’t Like” and the music video went viral (20. Million. Views.)
Ultimately the finger points to Keef himself. For better or worse, major label status changed virtually nothing about his sound, message or attitude. “Watch me roll up, ’cause I can’t spell sober,” Keef warbles on “Hate Being Sober”, which is sure to be a smash hit. Maybe if he stopped smoking so much he wouldn’t have that problem.
Maybe he’d learn how to write a halfway decent song.
Rating: 1 out 5 Stars