Chief Keef has become the hip hop world’s black sheep, and people have failed to ease up on the 17-year-old felon who was just recently sentenced to 60 days in juvenile prison on Thursday (January 18). Known to flash military weaponry in his videos while tossing up gang signs, Chief Keef has painted an image to the world that he is a complete “rotten apple”. The highlight of Chief Keef’s persona is that he is signed to Interscope Records and presently obtaining revenue from a legal rap career. Many have criticized the rapper for his plentiful sheet of illegal mistakes as a juvenile, but others have managed to see something deeper behind his criminal behavior.
Some, who come from common gang areas, but successfully removed themselves, see something else in the teenage rap artist. Some actually see a cry for help and a national painting of our “hopeless and rebellious” youth. Whenever I listen to Chief Keef’s music I hear, “written off”, “blacklisted”, “lost”, “we need direction”, “nobody cares about us anyways”, “survival”, and more alarming phrases. It’s almost as if these “street dwelling” teens put on a tough exterior in order to survive the tough blows and stereotypical judgment they may receive by someone like a police officer, who will slowly ride by them, judging them only by their attire.
Growing up, I saw that the law official community sort of pre-blacklisted our young African-American men, just based off of their zip code before they could even open up their mouths to speak. Today, Hip Hop Enquirer would like to share with you three important factors the black community must pay attention to when criticizing Chief Keef.
- His rugged appearance: Nothing is more beautiful than dark skin, but it seems that in every photo long dreads seem to droop over his eyes, representing this wild, “I don’t care” type of look. Dreads in many communities do derive from black empowerment – true. But in many gang affiliated environments, dreads are an attempt to “roughen” up one’s look. They also stand for an identity thing; letting people around you know “where you come from”. It seems that Chief Keef’s appearance alone tells us that he has learned that he needs to “toughen” up his appearance in order to survive in the streets he comes from. If he actually cleaned himself up a bit, he would be quite handsome. Instead he continues to rock the rough appearance, even after landing himself a rap deal. That says a lot about how he may believe the world sees him.
- His inability to follow the law: The convenient method of discussing this would be to bash him and give reason why he shouldn’t break the law. Well, I won’t do that. Whenever I see a teenager who has yet experienced the “meat” of real life and adulthood, making very detrimental illegal mistakes, I see something else besides “bad”. We miss the idea that he’s been led to believe that living this way is correct. Most seventeen year olds who don’t reside in communities with heavy danger and violence, have never even touched a handgun, nonetheless loaded a military weapon. Chief Keef’s gun charges are abnormal. It’s not okay that thousands of Chicago teens have knowledge of and access to 100-round weapons. It’s not okay that 17-year old African American men have had run-ins with the law due to high tech gun usage. This is a community alarm, telling the world to listen. The young people are in danger of not just guns, but themselves.
- His harsh and violent rap lyrics: They show complete disregard for “living”. His recent song “Love Sosa” talks disrespectfully of how he can “have sex with an enemy’s mother” as well as his choice to use automatic weapons, nicknamed “llamas”, in his disputes. What 17-year old teenager discusses this? A teenager who doesn’t even know what real “living” is about. Whether it is for entertainment or not, his content matter comes from somewhere dark, cold and confused.
Now, I don’t want this article to serve as anything sympathetic to the teen. We are all responsible for our own actions. I just don’t want to see this young man’s silent cry for help over looked, even if his music is presently disrespectful and rash. As a hip hop community, we have to read between the lines of music, especially from our youth. If we can point fingers at the wrong that Chief Keef is doing, then let’s dig a little deeper and figure out the cause of his wrongdoings, as well as those done by other teenagers growing up in rough environments. Let’s help the youth, instead of writing them off along with everyone else. After all, they’re our own. Lets talk about it. Check out this documentary on teens and gangs: “If The Streets Could Talk: Atlanta” – Part 1 below and let us know what you think.
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