Chief Keef @ Social Hall

Sam Damesheck Photography

It pays to be mean, mad, and violent. Just look at Chief Keef. At 21, Keef is one of the biggest — if not the biggest — gangster rappers alive, as evidenced by the vicious bidding war that occurred in the summer of 2011, when record labels from all over were vying to sign him. With a whopping 1.7 million monthly listeners on Spotify, Keef knows how to captivate audiences with his dark but catchy street anthems, and thanks to a rough-and-tumble lifestyle that includes regular run-ins with the law, he’s consistently making headlines, too. Granted, Keef’s colorful language and vivid imagery — which includes boatloads of cursing and tales of gang life, drug use, shooting up enemies, and anti-police rhetoric — have also garnered the Chicago rapper a slew of dissenters who claim his music glorifies violence and promotes an unhealthy lifestyle and negative perceptions of Black men in America. Though we can’t argue with that, there is still something to be said about poetic license. So if you’re someone who is able to differentiate fact from fiction, then you probably won’t be too offended by this straight-shooting MC. After all, there’s a reason why his peers call him “the Black Justin Bieber.”

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