Chicago rapper Chief Keef has skyrocketed to fame and a record deal over the last year based strongly on a remix of a track that he put out called "The Shit I Don't Like". Kanye West, also from Chicago, released a remix of it which became an immediate hit.
I don't know enough about Keef to really go into detail about all his songs and whatnot, but I know he got a record deal from Interscope out of it, and he's recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons, which is pushing Interscope into a situation where they have to deal with some unsavory things.
Recently an up and coming rapper named Lil JoJo was killed in Chicago which has a huge number of young people killed in gang violence. JoJo was apparently an "enemy" of a friend of Keef's, so after his death, Keef tweeted out mocking comments about it including one where he was just laughing.
This has caused a lot of controversy and Interscope is perhaps rethinking their record deal with him. Keef has claimed now that his twitter account was "hacked", but a lot of people realize that's become the excuse du-jour for people who get flack for things they say on twitter. Just claim hacking, and it's suddenly a get out of trouble free card.
Now I could go on and on about the idea of rewarding ignorance and violence with a record deal, but I couldn't do it as well as Andreas Hale did in this piece, which you can read by clicking here.
What I would like to focus on though is the outrage that I see by a lot of people (including Hale) at Interscope for giving him the deal. Why is this a shock to anyone? Have the people who are upset over this been paying attention to Interscope? They're the perfect home for Keef if you think about it.
MORE AFTER THE BREAK
The History of Interscope has been paved with genocidal music. Rappers such as Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent among others have been on Interscope and has made Interscope extremely profitable. All of these artists have put out albums with heavy emphasis on misogyny and genocidal themes, and more than one of their artists was arrested on charges that involved violence. Snoop Dogg actually faced a trial over connections to the murder of a member of a rival gang as he was recording his first album "Doggystyle". The man was killed by Snoop's bodyguard who was acquitted on grounds of self defense. Snoop as well was acquitted.
Tupac shot two cops (charges were dropped) , and went to prison on sexual assault charges stemming from rape accusations that Shakur denied.
Not to say that those two artists are the embodiment of those charges and actions, however it at least highlights a pattern around Interscope. For those who are complaining that they are outraged over Interscope signing Chief Keef to a deal, considering his gang and drug affiliations, then I just have to say that you haven't been paying attention.
In fact, the way I see it, Interscope should do what they've always done. What they did with Tupac, what they have always done, which is to profit off of death. Profit off of genocidal music. Profiting off of misogyny. Profit off of drugs. In fact, if they drop him you could legitimately say that they are going against their own integrity (or lack thereof) and track record.
Interscope can say whatever they want when it comes to this Chief Keef situation, and I figure they will probably cut him loose due to the overwhelming negative publicity, after they release his album. With Pac and Dre and Snoop and 50 Cent, those artists all were massive sales providing artists which allowed Interscope to simply look the other way and keep cashing those checks.
At this point Keef hasn't even released his album, and only has a handful of singles. He may have potential with the ignorance loving audience that's out there, but there's not a track record that he can use to make the case of why he should stay.
At the end of the day though, whether Keef stays or goes, he'll get another deal because ignorance sells in these days, perhaps more than at any other time. The question remains though: Will he be recording from inside of a prison or outside?
One last thought: Who will be the fine young entrepreneur who will register www.freekeef.com and profit off the inevitable ignorance that is people on twitter who are hashtagging "#FreeKeef" or some variation? As if he's somehow on par with the actual political prisoners like Assata Shakur and/or Mumia Abu Jamal.
You know it's coming folks. Mark my words.
Also, what the hell is Kanye West thinking? Here's a guy who claims to be aghast at the incredible amount of Chicago gang violence, and is speaking out about the need to stop the violence, and then he essentially co-signs Keef by remixing his track. In fact you could say that Keef got his deal based on West's remix.
That is like a rapper talking about getting drugs out of the community, and how drugs have ruined scores of black families, and then putting Freeway Ricky Ross on a track. Or better yet, like Mayer Marion Berry from DC who was famously arrested in a motel with crack and a prostitute, and uttered the classic line "The bitch set me up!"
Years later Berry made an appearance in the amazing film "Slam" which starred Saul Williams and The Wire's Sonja Sohn, as a judge and declared that "All I know is these drugs are killing our communities!" I'm sure he's making amends, and isn't on drugs anymore, but that is a bit tough to swallow.