When Chief Keef first became a viral sensation in 2012, he changed the face of rap music forever. All of a sudden, every rapper had the same flow, every rapper was using the same autotune slur on their vocals, every rapper was sagging designer off their ass and filming music videos with no girls in them, and every rapper was saying “thot” and “gang gang” whether they were from Chicago or not. Even his production took off; by mid-2013, it seemed like Young Chop was getting placements on just about all of the major releases of the year. Even Kanye hopped on the bandwagon, and we all know he maintains his relevancy by feeding off of younger talent like some kind of musical vampire.
And now, in 2017, we have a whole wave of rappers that were directly influenced by Keef in their formative years and listened to him heavily while they were still defining their own style. Don’t act like you have no idea who I’m talking about; just take a look at last year’s XXL Freshmen cover and you’ll get a pretty good idea. Now, dudes like Lil Uzi Vert and 21 Savage certainly had some Keef influence here and there, but it seems like there’s even more of it amongst this year’s newest faces. Let’s run down the list of who has stolen Sosa’s style the most blatantly.*
*Disclaimer: This is not to say that any of these artists are shitty. Just to be clear, we fuck with all these guys heavy. We’re just clowning. Once you’re done reading, go check all of them out.
Of all those that have been included on this list, Purpp has bitten Sosa the least, but the influence is still clearly there. Just watch the video for “Ski Mask,” and tell me you don’t get Vietnam flashbacks to the videos for “Love Sosa” and “Kobe.” A bunch of shirtless dudes in somebody’s house waving pistols at the camera with no women in sight? Chief Keef invented that. In fact, Keef invented drill as a genre, and it’s obvious that this new wave is drawing heavily from it. Purpp also has a whole slew of autotune tracks on his Soundcloud that conjure up images of a teenage kid trying his best to emulate Bang 2. When he’s not strung out on autotune, he sounds like a mix between Bang 3 Keef and Back from the Dead 2 Keef. You can hear the combination of those melodic flows that almost sound radio-friendly and the type of barking over sparse beats that was pioneered on tracks like “Faneto” and “Who Is That.” If you want an audio sampling of Sosa’s entire career, give a listen to Purpp’s music.
Now don’t get us wrong, we are big Chxpo fans here at Local Savage. However, it is easy to see that he’s taken a lot of cues from Glo Gang, as he sounds like the sick lovechild of Fredo and Xanax Era Keef. In a lot of his songs, Chxpo uses the same flow, and if you listen closely you can hear an eerie similarity between that flow and the flow that Keef uses on songs like “War” and “Save Me.” Throughout most of his discography, Chxpo sounds just as drugged out as Sosa but shows a much greater degree of focus and seems to actually care about his fanbase (he dropped something like twenty mixtapes last year alone). He also outsources much of the production on his songs to random dudes from Twitter who send him beats, which sounds like an awfully familiar DIY approach to making music. Slurred and melodic trap is popping right now, and nobody was really doing it until Keef had the balls to drop two genre-bending projects he mixed and mastered himself based off a new sound he created right after signing a six million dollar label deal.
3.) Playboi Carti
Now this one goes without saying, and even though he really doesn’t count as part of the new wave of 2017, the fact that he hasn’t dropped a debut project yet keeps him on our list. Anybody who has ever listened to Keef and Carti in the same sitting can see how strongly Carti’s music is influenced by his Chicago counterpart. On songs like “Every Since” and “Don’t Tell Nobody,” it’s almost like he’s jacking Keef’s whole musical style unapologetically, and just fitting it over sparser MexikoDro-style beats. The two rappers share many of the same fans, so there is clearly crossover appeal outside of the fact that the two sound similar. Carti has put enough of his own spin on the sound that it would be unfair to simply accuse him of biting. Sure, he’s strongly influenced by Keef, but isn’t the whole point of art to take your influences and make something new out of them? Also, Carti has gotten extensive cosigns from A$AP Mob, who have historically fucked with Sosa’s music heavily, so he obviously has talent that will distinguish him from Keef over the next few years.
2.) Lil Pump
Lil Pump, like Keef, has become an Internet sensation at just sixteen years old, and while that’s not really his fault, he certainly has a lot of other characteristics that he draws directly from Turbo. First of all, his entire appearance is a blatant Keef rip-off, from the short dreads hanging over his face to the tight v-necks with sagging True Religions. Second, let’s be honest with ourselves: Chief Keef made it cool in trap to flow lazily over amateur production, like Pump does on this self-titled track. If you watch the video, you can see the parallels, from the way he slips into an Almighty So-style slur in the second verse down to his outfit, which seems like to be a direct take-off of Keef’s in the “Love No Thotties” video. It’s hard to put into words, but even his hand movements and the way he raps into the camera give off uncanny vibes of early Glory Boyz videos, especially the ones shot after Keef had moved out of the hood and into the suburbs. However, Sosa was heavily influenced by Gucci Mane when he started out and managed to take that and shape his own sound, so perhaps Pump will do the same.
Okay, now we’re getting to the part of the list where influence meets straight up theft. You may know K$upreme as an affiliate of Lil Yachty’s Sailing Team, or you may not know him at all, and that’s okay. I’m not here to tell you whose music is good or bad. However, if you’re a fan of Keef, you’ll love K$upreme, because he sounds almost exactly the same. Even down to the ad-libs, the delivery, and the way he rides beats, it’s almost like this dude is looking into a mirror using a hairbrush as a microphone and trying to do his best Keef impression. Actually, I could sit here and make comparisons all day, but it would be best if you got a sample of it yourself. Listen to this song and tell me who it reminds you of. I’ll wait. Sounds like Keef got ahold of a time machine and some good lean and traveled back to 2013, doesn’t it? Well if you thought that was a pretty egregious ripoff, check out this one. It almost sounds like it could have been a bonus track off of the Nobody album. There are even more gems on his Soundcloud if you’re thirsty for new Keef but pissed he hasn’t dropped anything lately.
In our opinion, these are five new school rappers who are definitely influenced by Chief Keef, and have used elements of his sound to varying degrees of success. However, we understand that there are tons of clones all over the internet trying their absolute best to emulate Sosa, so let us know who else you think should have been included in this list. Make sure to check out all these artists on Souncloud, and toss them a like if you think their shit bumps; it will make up for us calling them out. As we mentioned above, we think all these dudes are dope, but you gotta clown them every once and a while.