Gather round, children, and I’ll tell you a story about America, hiphop, fame, the internet, and a young man who calls himself Chief Keef.
If you haven’t read anything about him yet, you’re not alone; up until this past January, nobody outside of his community on Chicago’s South Side knew who he was. That all changed when a video of one of his fans went viral. In it, a young boy freaks out with joy that his favorite rapper, Chief Keef, is out of jail (for unlawful use of a weapon), alternately shrieking and rapping along to one of his songs. Who is this guy and how did he get so famous without the internet knowing?
According to Gawker, he did it the old fashioned way: by distributing home-burned CDs to kids at local high schools and social events. His Youtube videos helped this process along, but up until recently, only people on the South Side knew who he was. When not under arrest, he played some packed shows at local clubs, and even when confined to his grandma’s house, he kept recording music and making videos. Another video, “Everyday’s Halloween,” features a cameo from grandma herself:
Is Chief Keef talented enough to outlast the internet hype cycle and earn himself a spot on the national stage? Those “bang” parts are pretty catchy, but that remains to be seen. What is heartening, though, is that in the age of blog buzz, virality and trollgaze, he’s it’s still possible to build a following from the ground up, by working within one’s own community. Chief Keef, I salute you.