Okay, okay. Maybe not the best, but definitely top 5.
Chief Keef, also known as Almighty So, King Glo, and Turbo, is often labeled a meme rapper and for good reason. He almost always disappoints his fans with failed mixtape and album releases. He views himself as a god, when in reality he’s a 21 year old with tons of legal trouble, baby momma drama, and poor money management skills. With all that said, Sosa is still one of, if not the most influential rapper of the 2010s and here’s why:
It was a beautiful Tuesday morning and the smell of greatness was in the air. A 16 year-old Lolita Cozart was hoisted up in a Chicago, IL hospital bed, awaiting the arrival of her first child. After an intense labor that lasted hours and costed taxpayers several thousand dollars, a star was born.
Named after his dead uncle, Keith Cozart was born on August 15th, 1995. Growing up, Keith was introduced to the horrifying reality that is the South side of Chicago. Drugs and guns are on every corner and murder is an everyday occurrence. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that at the ripe age of 14, our slightly autistic luminary was arrested for manufacturing meth. During his arrest, Keith pulled out an un-loaded gun and pointed it at officers. Officers opened fire, luckily missing all of their shots. Because of his age, Keith was put on house arrest, instead of serving a lengthy prison sentence, and into the custody of his Grandmother.
Confined to his Grandmother’s basement, Keith began his transformation into Chief Keef. It started off slow. He would record songs with the help of an Asian immigrant named DJ KENN and obsessive compulsive eater, Young Chop; both aspiring producers at the time. He would release newly recorded songs through free music streaming platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud, gaining a decent following throughout the slums of Chicago. He connected with local videographers such as Azae Productions and DGainz to record music videos for his most popular records. And then everything changed.
On March 11, 2012 Chief Keef released the music video for “I Don’t Like” featuring Lil Reese. It was unlike any music video seen before, Chief Keef opted out of renting an expensive car and big booty strippers, and instead shot the entire music video in his Grandma’s house with his trusty “gang members” by his side. The young, shirtless dread heads showed off their pistols and swisher sweets stuffed with weed to the camera. They were proud of it.
How could a 16-year old possibly have been through this much? Many wanted to know, and more importantly, understand how Chief Keef was exposed to the gang violence, drug use, and murder that he so accurately described in his song lyrics. At the age of 16, most Americans are in high school, still familiarizing themselves with the opposite sex; Chief Keef was a high school dropout with a child on the way.
Shortly after “I Don’t Like” was released, Kanye West dropped a remix featuring hip-hop heavyweights Jadakiss, Big Sean, and Pusha T. Catapulting it even higher than anyone could’ve expected. With in weeks Chief went from being a taxpayer’s burden to the center of a million dollar bidding war; eventually signing onto Interscope Records for 6 million dollars.
Chief Keef used his newfound wealth to splurge; he’d walk through shopping malls with 100k in cash and buy whatever caught his attention; he’d race through Hollywood in exotic cars with fellow Interscopian’s 50 Cent & Soulja Boy; and go on to release one helluv’a debut album.
Sadly, all that’s good must someday come to an end. After a short stint in prison at the peak of his success, Keef emerged with a new sound and a rapidly growing potbelly resulting from heavy codeine usage. His music quickly went from immediate and catchy to atmospheric and heavily reliant on autotune; listening to songs from this era almost makes one feel as if they’ve ingested the same drugs as Keef. You can take the Sosa out of the hood but you can’t take the hood out of the Sosa, and over the next two years our hero was plagued by legal troubles and a slowly diminishing fanbase as his output became more and more obscured by vocal effects and ethereal production.
Since then, it has been a struggle to be a fan of Keef’s due to his refusal to put out music and the constant beef he maintains with his current label, FilmOn Entertainment. While he’s still young, his career arc is a true testament to the folly of man: Keith Cozart was given everything, and elevated to the status of a cult icon, and still has managed to fuck all of it up. Regardless, his story is both fascinating and unique, and his sound remains the most influential to the new school of rappers. Without slurry lean anthems like “Go to Jail,” there would be no Playboi Carti. Without “This Bitch,” there would be no Lil Uzi Vert. Even emcee’s like 21 Savage and Lil Yachty borrow from the sound banks of the Almighty Turbo.
When Keef rose to prominence in 2012, it was one of the most stunning and unforgettable paths to stardom that has ever occurred in rap music, or all popular music, within the last quarter century. You can walk down the street in any major city and every teenager will know who Chief Keef is. Everyone knows “bang bang” and “that’s that shit I don’t like,” as they both became part of the casual lexicon among American youth. With all that he’s accomplished at such an early age, and all of the classics that he has yet to release, it’s easy to say that Chief Keef is one of the top 5 greatest rappers of all time.