“Dedication” Caps a Great Year for Chief Keef
by Conor Green
A little over a year ago, Chief Keef announced in a very explicit Instagram post that he was coming for “all these wack rappers” in 2017. The Chicago legend had made little noise in 2016 and has stayed out of the public eye for the most part, electing to spend most of his time paintballing and playing video games with his Glo Gang affiliates in his Los Angeles mansion. While Keef’s status in the rap game never faltered, many of his fans began to wonder if he was even interested in making music anymore. This is why the rap world was ecstatic upon hearing that Keef’s hiatus was coming to an end. As promised, 2017 was the year in which Keef reaffirmed his reputation as one of the most interesting, influential rappers in the game right now.
Despite being only 22 years old, Keef has been rapping longer than most in the industry. Considered the father of Drill Rap and one of the primary inspirations for this generation’s up-and-coming rappers, Keef has a lot of experience under his belt. It was over eight years ago that Keef rose to national fame with his hit single, “I Don’t Like.” Since then, he has put out nearly 30 full length projects. While they are all by no means perfect, or good to be honest, Keef’s output is still impressive. It is this work ethic that allowed Keef to put out a whopping six projects in 2017, the last, and arguably best, being “Dedication.” “Dedication” is different from most of Keef’s projects. While there are some recurring themes from his past work on “Dedication” (newfound rich lifestyle, life as a drug dealer, and being a gang member in Englewood), it holds more weight than most of the music he has released up until this point. Throughout the album, Keef is not afraid to admit his vulnerability. Instead of rapping with an angry flow like he usually does, Keef takes on a more relaxed tone for parts of the album. It is easy to tell that Keef is starting to become comfortable with himself, as he has no problem talking about pieces of his past that are not exactly glorious, but have made him who he is. On “Keke Palmer,” Keef reminisces about the blue books of his school days, and on “Text,” he meekly says, “In second grade, I used to tote a BB in my lunch bag.” Instances of nostalgia can be found sprinkled across “Dedication.”
More than anything, it is Keef’s witty wordplay that makes the album worth listening to. While he is not a very talented technical rapper, Keef makes up for it with his punchlines. He has no problem taking jabs and being completely honest with his humour, which is part of the reason why he comes off as ignorant to many. Over the bass-heavy D. Rich production, which surprisingly incorporates a lot of piano samples, Keef epitomizes everything that drill rap has to offer in 2018. With A Boogie Wit da Hoodie and Lil Yachty features on the album, Keef is making an obvious attempt to stay current with what the youth listen to today.
The brooding street anthems “Cook,” “Bad” (which features GBE affiliate Tadoe), and “Be Back” will surely be played at full volume in the cars of anyone who has ever liked Keef. Containing long choruses accompanied by a couple 20-second verses, the songs are simple, but catchy. Keef isn’t trying to be something he is not. He is hardly ever played on the radio, but has never wanted to be. Nevertheless, Keef knows how to make drill rap, and for that he should be appreciated.