Patrick Montes // OC Weekly
Ever since the video for Chicago rapper Chief Keef's "I Don't Like" gave Keef a big enough crossover hit to warrant a multi-million dollar check from Jimmy Iovine's coffers, there's been enough negative and positive attention thrown Keef's way to warrant a reality show storyline. Whether it was the issue of his mounting legal squabbles or a showering of press every time he releases something new, it has always been quite easy for him to grab the spotlight.
Regardless of the attention Keef has been given, the 17 year-old Chicago rapper has still remained as an artist who appears to be a bit difficult to understand and grasp, and you can't really maneuver through conventional channels to find out more. He's not exactly the most interview-friendly person, and there's not much in the way of introspection in his lyrics or Twitter feeds. So, the closest anyone can really get to unearth more about Chief Keef is to actually, literally see him in person. Luckily, the Observatory was one of the few places in California that has managed to lock the artist in for an actual performance in his recent run of shows.
CaliInDaMix -- Observatory's go-to guy for hip-hop DJing -- announced at around 11:15 p.m. Keef would be on stage in about "fifteen minutes." At around 12:20, Keef actually arrived on stage. It is by no means nothing new for an artist to arrive on stage a little late, if anything it's to be expected to happen often, but Keef definitely managed to break some boundaries with his arrival. Whether late or early though, it was the flashy, dreadheaded catchphrase-creator that everyone in the extremely packed, humid room wanted to see. It took a while, but their wish was granted.
Along with some of his GBE/Globoyz/1017 (we know, that's a lot of different affiliations to follow) associates and donned in all white, Keef wasted no time feeding into the crowd's wants and jumped right into performing major hits such as "Love Sosa," "No Tomorrow," and "Kobe." The way he ran through songs and moved on-stage made the show feel more like an extended club performance than an actual "show," as Keef didn't seem to really want to do much more than hang out on stage with his cohorts, sway around a bit, and rap along to his tracks. He did appear to be in good spirits though, which we assume was from more than just a "performance high."
Keef performed less like a devoted rapper and more like a kid having drug-aided fun, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. There are those in and around his age bracket, such as the likes of NYC revivalist Joey Badass and fellow Chicago kid Chance the Rapper, who take the art of live music more seriously and put more effort and care into their show. To those artists and others like them, there is more emphasis on the craft. But, given the feel and content of Keef's work, can anyone really blame him?
Keef's music is a unique form of street rap clearly made by someone who cares more about having his own fun and hosting his own party than subscribing to the ways of anyone else or hip-hop's progression, so why would he follow the standards of others? At least it looks like Chief Keef has developed from his initial run of shows, and he had definitely improved since his Rock the Bells performance, in that he actually showed up this time around.
In the next few years, we will see Keef's true potential for longevity, how his sound will age and evolve, and probably learn more about him as an individual. But as for now, if you're in his presence when he's performing, you're bound to at least bob your head and yell out one of his hooks when songs like "Kobe" and "Love Sosa" come on. If you enjoy fun music, it's only natural.
Random Notebook Dump: Chief Keef should have temporarily hired opener InkyMonstarr as his hypeman. He was losing it all over the stage in the hours leading up to Keef's performance.
Critic's Bias: Regardless of whatever other drama surrounds Chief Keef, when paired with producer Young Chop his brand of hip-hop is undeniable.
Overheard in the Crowd
: Enough shouting of "300," "O Block," and "GBE" to make you believe the audience actually grew up alongside Chief Keef.
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