This past October, the critical reception of Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city became as much of a talking point as the album itself, if only for how overwhelmingly positive it was. Two months later, Chief Keef's Finally Rich—another major label debut—is the focus of This Week's Over-Intellectualized Rap Dialogue, but for completely opposite reasons.
Over the course of a few days' reviews, critics have slammed the album as "woeful" and "unbearable," compared it to a 19th century minstrel show, and linked it to last week's shooting in Newtown, CT. These pieces of the capital-C Conversation about Keef seem to shrug off reviewing the record in favor of projecting some kind of agenda onto it.
That's why Complex sees it as our duty to call out these perpetrators (or sneak dissers, as the case may be). These are the 10 Worst Things Written About Chief Keef This Week.
Edward McClelland, NBC Chicago
"I also don’t want to pay $14 for the minstrel show of listening to a real live South Side thug. I don't want to support a scene that makes gangbanging a resume builder for music success."
Chief Keef isn't wearing blackface, nor is it 1850. Calling Finally Rich a "minstrel show" is, well, racist, if not at least stunningly out of line. More appropriately, the album is the success story of a "real live South Side thug." Chief Keef is obsessed with gangbanging because he grew up in one of the most violent environments in America. If anything, his album depicts music as a way to escape that life, and offers commentary on it instead of outright abandonment of his past.
Jesse Cataldo, Slant
"Notorious for his pro-gun ramblings, Twitter death threats, Instagram oral sex pics, and other forms of mischief, 17-year-old Chief Keef is also a quickly rising MC."
Chief Keef's comments about the death of rival Chicago rapper Lil Jojo were no doubt inflammatory, but they were irresponsible taunts, not threats.
Jim DeRogatis, WBEZ 91.5
“If, in the wake of the horrific happenings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, a soulless, amoral and blatantly sensationalist musician released an album glorifying the deranged mindset, unspeakably selfish and evil worldview and embrace of indiscriminate violence that led to the mass killing of 26 innocents, the condemnation of that dubious art would be instant and universal, regardless of whatever imagined merits it might have beyond its abhorrent subject matter.”
Want to see sensationalism? Watch a critic compare the massacre of a bunch of unarmed children to the release of a rap album. Then read Marilyn Manson's essay about Columbine after.
Jon Caramanica, New York Times
"It’s relentlessly dark and sometimes lifeless, at least in the lyrics."
Caramanica's the homie, and yes, the album's dark. But lifeless?
James Shotwell, Under The Gun
"Unfortunately, there is another side of the record that caters to the above mentioned love of vocoder that may push you to give up music for a day or two."
First: it's Auto-Tune, not vocoder. Second: instead of being a hyperbolic drama queen and giving up music, you can just listen to something else.
Jonathan Landrum Jr., Associated Press
"The album, with topics including his menacing character and large stash of cash, is borderline unbearable."
If you were a poor, jailed, 16-year-old father who became a millionaire celebrity overnight, you'd be like:
Mark Guarino, Salon
"Chicago rapper Rhymefest says...that all the attention on Drill takes away from the more innovative Chicago hip-hop artists, who are more musically creative and uplifting, like Chance The Rapper and B.J. The Chicago Kid. 'Nobody is giving them attention because no one shooting at somebody or because they don’t have video brandishing guns.'"
Or maybe it's just because Chief Keef's songs are better?
Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times
"['Hallelujah'] features an opening couplet—"Bitch I'm cooler than a cooler/Bitch shouts out to my jeweler"—that suggests about as much effort as he probably put into freshman biology."
Paging your fact-checking department: The lyric is "Big shouts out to my jeweler." Also, nice racially-charged cheap shot at Keef's education. Alternative: "These lyrics suck because Chief Keef is dumb and you know he didn't try in school." But he's in the back of a Bentley like:
Ryan Reed, Paste
"When Finally Rich works (and it often does), it’s thanks to everyone other than Chief Keef."
So, Chief Keef's album is good. But not because of him. Gotcha. Great logic.
Jim DeRogatis, WBEZ 91.5
"This critic’s take: Chief Keef is a thick-tongued, mush-mouthed rapper."
Translation: "Those black teens and their ebonics! Sure are difficult to understand!"