Here’s what we know so far about Chicago’s bubbling underground artist Chief Keef. He’s 16 years old. He exploded onto the hip-hop scene with “I Don’t Like,” which later became Kanye West’s favorite song, eventually leading to a huge remix. He recently signed a record deal with Interscope Records, as well as a publishing deal with Dr. Dre. And as part of his ongoing campaign to put Chi-Town rap on the map, Keef made his New York City debut last night at SOB’s—and he brought a couple dozen of his best friends along. It was his moment to achieve national success in front of a live sold-out crowd, so why not share it with your peoples? Well, it didn’t exactly enhance his set having a bunch of dudes with no mics up on stage, but more about that in a minute.
The night’s scheduled openers included a variety of up-and-coming Chi-Town and East Coast rappers. Philly’s own Sean Faylon left quite an impression while previewing a few new tracks. Young Giftz proved his profile will rise soon enough with some solid bars. However, the talk of the night was Tim Vocals, a rapper/singer out of Harlem who combines a style of crooning his hood tales with a shape-shifting falsetto. He opened with a cover of R. Kelly’s “Bump N’ Grind,” then continued with his own remixes of “Marvin’s Room” and “Crew Love.”
At first, concertgoers were feeding off the energy of a talented singer who represented the streets. But things took a turn when he ended his set with a version of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.” Either folks were still sensitive about MJ’s death or Vocals did not do the tune justice—but for whatever reason, a chorus of boos commenced. After he left the stage, seemingly unfazed, the audience received a pep talk about respecting artists. It was not clear whether this had anything to do with the beefed-up security for Keef.
Keef and the Glory Boyz finally hit the stage at midnight. Joined by Fredo Santana, the crew kicked things off with Lil Durk’s “L’s Anthem.” Wearing white-framed shades and a jean vest, Keef stood in the center of his deep crowd of supporters. He took a moment to get situated, but finally hit his stride as fans grew rowdier after every song.
They were moshing in the front, girls sat on other people’s shoulders, and one fan rocked the same Gucci goggles as Keef. There were times when CDs were thrown from the stage at a high velocity, leaving audience members with the choice of either catching them or ducking.
You could tell his particular fanbase exerts plenty of energy. They were moshing in the front, girls sat on other people’s shoulders, and one fan rocked the same Gucci goggles as Keef. There were times when CDs were thrown from the stage at a high velocity, leaving audience members with the choice of either catching them or ducking. Keef didn’t say much on the mic in between songs, mostly sticking to catch-phrases like “G.B.E.,” “Bang,” and mumbling a few inaudible sentences.
Sosa let loose a few bangers off his mixtape, Back From The Dead , as well as Internet singles like “Understand Me” and “Everyday,” which really turned things up. The headbanging intensity was elevated to new heights when he launched into “3Hunna.” Keef followed that up immediately with his biggest street single “I Don’t Like” and the audience exploded. The whole place was bouncing along to his rhymes and while many hoped that members of the G.O.O.D. Music family might make a surprise appearance, the Young Chop original was potent enough to tear the roof off.
Keef previewed a new song, “Tatted Like My Amigos,” before wrapping up his 16-minute set with “Winning” and sending the exuberant crowd into the streets of NYC with their ears ringing. Keef is widely considered the next big thing in hip-hop, and it’s going to be interesting to see where this kid ends up a few years from now. While his live performance could have been more polished—especially if his entourage was chilling backstage or even in the audience—he has plenty of time to smooth things out. Not that his fans seem very interested in anything smooth.
Written By Eric Diep (@E_Diep)