The Demonization of Chief Keef and Lil JoJo


A teenage kid drops one of the catchiest records of the last two years and everyone gets pissed at him. Kanye West thinks it's genius and throws his entire roster on the remix for free. My question is: Did you get pissed when you were a teenager and instead of buying Illmatic by Nas, you purchased the new maxi single from Gangsta Larry and the Westcoast Baby Killers?

When JoJo passed I saw several people on social networks verbally bashing Keef and saying how far gone our current generation is. But as I recall, movie theaters in the '90s were getting shot up over gangbanging incidents. People in the '90s lived in fear due to gang violence, and you'd be a fool to think the tone of the music at the time didn't play a part. One of my favorite rappers from that time period talked about eating children in his music. He's one of the coldest cats ever to touch a mic. His first album is very dark and demented but it's also a classic from front to back -- it's musically flawless. We find this type of stuff entertaining because -- let's face it -- we love violence. I want to be clear that I am not advocating senseless violence. I am simply stating some of us are acting brand new about issues such as this and not realizing how much of a role we all have played on some level of perpetuating these problems.

A few of us have grown older and have somehow totally forgot how many of these kinds of rap songs we have committed to memory. Purists listen to Wacka Flocka and screw their face, but I find his music entertaining, and I love his interviews because he's completely upfront and honest about his opinions. He's being true to who he actually is and doesn't care if you like it or not. He's not the most lyrical guy alive but he doesn't claim to be. And there is an artistic value within his music in its own right. In the '90s, the generation before mine gave plenty of people the opportunity to have a career, and sometimes the music was filled with a lack of responsibility and lyrical content. The murder rates in the St. Louis streets had moments when they were higher back then than they are now.

We dance to Keef and Wacka more than we shoot to them. True, there are senseless acts of violence carried out at random and precious lives are lost. I'm not defending ignorance or senseless murders. I am saying don't get holier than thou now that you're about to touch the age of 40. I am also saying hip-hop was founded on principles that are supposed to make less sense to you the older you get. I once saw a local DJ tweet, "This record has too much profanity in it, I can't play it".

I wanted to say, "Didn't your generation make a rap group named Niggaz Wit Attitude filthy rich? Now, I think NWA is arguably the greatest rap group ever assembled. I only used the term "arguably" because I'm a huge Wu-Tang Clan and OutKast fan, and the argument that this title belongs to Run-DMC is always relevant. Ice Cube is one of my favorite rappers and Dr. Dre is such a genius I can't even begin to explain his contributions to not only hip-hop but music in general. But all I'm saying is: what happened to the sudden need to show accountability when you were younger? You enjoyed your share of politically incorrect music that your parents despised. Eazy-E is a god, but he also introduced some of you to profanity as we know it. I'm just saying: slow down before you tread into those waters and suddenly become the old people who don't understand the music so they hate it. I'm also saying don't blame the children, because you guys invented gangster rap and gave it to them. It's not my job to determine whether or not Lil Reese had anything to do with JoJo's shooting.

I don't want to come off like I'm slandering the legends of old, because if it weren't for them and their contributions to the culture, everything I'm living for is pointless. If Dr. Dre didn't take over the world then I'd be mopping floors somewhere. If Eazy-E didn't burst into the industry and reinvent the rules with his street-savvy business sense the industry as we know it would not exist. If Ice Cube didn't reinvent himself as the early '90s equivalent to Macolm X then we would have possibly never witnessed the evolution of Tupac Shakur.

We can never artistically recreate or duplicate exactly what these gentlemen did. Their music is timeless and classic for a reason. I am simply speaking about the tone of the culture and our lifestyle choices from one generation to the next. The Chicago P.D. will investigate this crime and come to a conclusion. I hope and pray for the peace of JoJo's family. I hope they find a way to cope with his death and rebuild their spirits. I am saddened by this incident, and I think it's just a horrible waste of human potential.

I hope Lil Reese and Chief Keef use the incident as a means to gain maturity and maybe even become advocates against youth violence in some way. Do I listen to Reese's mixtape in my Beats By Dre's on full blast? Damn skippy. I hope he hasn't had a hand in repeating this vicious cycle of genocide and senseless murder that is plaguing our communities nationwide. If by some chance Chicago P.D. determines he has played a role JoJo's murder, we still owe it to JoJo and Lil Reese to do better. Once this murder is solved, there will be a new JoJo and this terrible saga continues like it has continued since before I was even born. There will be a new Lil Reese by that time also and we owe it to him to do better as well.

I say blame yourselves if you're going to point fingers. We need to look in the mirror and have the balls to be honest with ourselves about the things that take place in our culture/community. Rap music isn't all about killing, shooting, drugs and disrespecting women. Unfortunately, some people have pigeonholed the music and don't know this. There are artists like Lupe Fiasco, Dead Prez and Common that add plenty of depth and substance to their music.

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12 comments
DarrenStarr
DarrenStarr

todays rappers must speak out about violence in our communities and not with veiled half-baked raps that can claim to be conscious if studied under a lyrical microscope  .  todays top rappers must work with all their strength and ability to teach the youth that it is not cool to be violent. more rappers in the spotlight must full-stop denounce violence. Intelligence, honor, love, humanity and the search for beauty in the world must be the new "cool", even at the expense of rap careers if necessary. Rappers must speak these truths, as the families that once could are in total disarray. what horrifies me is that instead of mainstream rappers pushing forward this radically positive agenda to our youth, the most violent and mindless rappers are not only NOT being rebuked, they are actually being co-signed by top-tier artists who seem to have sold their souls.   Thats why I applaud Lupe Fiasco.  More rappers must follow.  Refuse to co-sign Keef.  come out and say that the message that Keef spouts is wrong, and will only lead to more deaths.  But most ill not speak up.  Their up-and-coming rap careers are dependent on you getting along with the new "it" rappers, even ones that are morally repugnant.  It could also be that directly speaking out on such matters carries with it other dangers.  For those reasons, I cannot truly begrudge any rapper that chooses to maintain the status quo.  

TYBG
TYBG like.author.displayName 1 Like

I agree with dewarrenMiH below.  That said, I'd like to comment. If I take anything from this article, it's your premise that Chief Keef's rise is due to (or at least parallels) the overall rise of schlock gangster rap that was hoisted on us in years past, and that we as a society (and consumers) are somehow partially to blame for co-signing such wack, nihilistic garbage. (even though the 'garbage' is actually just a reflection of our F---'ed up society) That's fine.  I see your point, I guess.  BUT it should be also noted that it seems very clear to my ears and most of my friends who know as much about hip hop as you do, Tef - is that Chief Keef is pure garbage. This fact is vital, as it accounts for most of the backlash you are sensing in regards to this 'artist' as of late. From day one, it was clear that Chief Keef had zero musical talent. No flow, no unique voice, nothing. Frankly, His fledgling rap 'career' was based on nothing but hype, a few well-placed lukewarm reviews, and a lame co-sign or two by guys too busy to even research what exactly they were co-signing.  So please note, if there is now backlash against this clown rapper, it is because he is now rightfully being seen as ungrateful, moronic, callous in regards to a peer's death, and a tad too-dead-eyed/mindless and overhyped.  He didn't deserve his spot.  His songs are wack, his attitude is too immature.  There's nothing there to like.  When people realize they've been had by an 'artist', there is backlash.  Well we've been had by Chief Keef. As a side note, I hate burst your bubble, but there is likely no shining beacon of greatness inside of Chief Keef. Some people are just dunces.  Keef is likely one of them.  Some people are just scumbags.  Keef makes my scumbag radar go off. My advice to you is realize that some people are just bad news, and it isn't always society's fault. As far as positivity and hip hop, these days I only mess with Lil B the BasedGod.  He's more real and far more brave than anyone I see in the current hip hop landscape.

vikvaughn
vikvaughn like.author.displayName 1 Like

you need a copy editor.  do you really expect someone to read 4 pages of this?

kidmozaratii
kidmozaratii

 This article is bullshit you have none of your facts straight chief keef was not in the video jojo's beef was mainly with  lil reese so before you star incriminating people and speaking on stuff have your facts straight. 

c680425
c680425

THE PROBLEM IS MAJOR LABELS HAVE DROPPED ALOT OF THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES ... INORDER TO JUST MAKE MONEY ... 1. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT DEPART.

2. ARTIST DEVELOPMENT  3. MOBILE DJ LISTENING SETS  ETC. 

ALL THE ARTIST YOU MENTIONED WERE GROOMED FOR THE INDUSTRY AT SOME EARLY POINT IN THEIR MUSIC CAREERS ... LABELS NO DAYS DON'T PUT THAT SAME EFFORT TO BLACK GANGSTER RAP ARTIST ... SWIFT"

dewarrenMiH
dewarrenMiH

It's time to revolutionalize the way the African American community takes care of its youth. We have organizations like the NAACP, Black Panther Party, NOI, and others aren't making an impact in the community and some black churches care very little about the communities they are nestled in as though its not their calling. The cards are stacked against our youth before they are even born. The conditions that create the environment in which we grew up, Keef. and Jojo was created generations ago and without a transformational leader a little closer to home, like a Tef Poe and others like him that are relevant and who speak truth to power we will continue to see numbers and senseless deaths rise in CHI and my own Northside of STL

DarrenStarr
DarrenStarr

 @dewarrenMiH I agree with most of what you say here, but no disrespect, but just  how is Tef a 'transformational leader', exactly?  Notice Tef Poe won't even speak out about Keef.  "I wish him much success".  HUH?!!!  You wish "much success" to a non-rapper with zero appeal spreading a poisonous, nihilistic message of hate and death to his peers during the middle of most violent times an increasingly violent city has ever seen?  As a student of hip hop, and a person who even understands that hip hop must have balance to move forward and remain relevant, I wish Chief Keef failure, NOT success.I'm sorry, but too many rappers are too afraid of the consequences of actually speaking out. Too afraid of appearing soft, too afraid of appearing to be another crab in the bucket.  A really brave rapper would speak out and ask the violent youth to look into their hearts and find love.  A really brave rapper would attempt to make positivity an attractive option (Mr. Lif, Lil B, Lupe Fiasco, De La Soul)  Instead, here we get a long screed about how society and consumers are to blame and how the author wishes Keef success.  I'm sorry, but its time for a different story.

dewarrenMiH
dewarrenMiH

@DarrenStarr I understand where you are coming from totally, but I believe Tef Poe is a transformational figure because of his work in the community and in particular Amnesty International. Youth violence is a problem but no artist can bring the necessary attention it would take to reverse the tide of destruction we see in today's youth. I believe Tef is transformational also because his artistry is not rooted in the glorification of violence, the exploitation if women, or illegal drug use. An artist can only do so much and in all actuality they are hoping to support their families. I think that's why Tef wished him success because he can identify with that aspect of Keef.

v_luscious
v_luscious

@StreetMadeTeam @tefpoe LOVE that blog! & everyone should look at my last RT & read it too!

mhdvn
mhdvn

@TefPoe we shouldn't lay blame. it's our world -- we should do what it takes to foster growth

TefPoe
TefPoe

@mhdvn thats what the article about..

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