50. Chief Keef, Back From the Dead (2012)
Love him or hate him, this record had impact. Bang may have started it all, and Finally Rich primed a potential crossover, but the spark—from the Kanye remix to his Interscope deal—came to life on Back From the Dead.
Sure, "I Don't Like" was the tape's obvious standout, and Keef's delivery had yet to develop the casual confidence exhibited on his Interscope album, but there is something completely one-of-a-kind about the distinctive sound he and producer Young Chop established throughout the entire project. If you asked a kid from Chicago last summer about his favorite Keef song, he might have six or seven answers—all of them found on this tape.
Although the duo's music had been characterized by certain media outlets as a one-note performance preaching nihilism and death, Back from the Dead reflects a more diverse vision than Keef's usually given credit for. Yes, simplicity was the order of the day-"I Don't Like" was about what Keef didn't like; "Designer" was about his favorite brands; "Everyday" was a concept song about what he did every day as a south side teenager raised on Soulja Boy and Brick Squad.
Two teenagers put this record together by themselves and released it with no label and zero promotional budget. Since that time, it has clocked more than 460,000 downloads on DatPiff alone, its tracks have been remixed by Rick Ross and Kanye, and it has catapulted Keef to a $6 million label deal. Any questions? —David Drake
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