You know what? Maybe Chief Keef shouldn’t take that “stuntin’ break” after all — or, to put it more appropriately, in light of how great The Cozart is, maybe he should just stick to re-working stockpiled old material for the moment. Teased since 2015, the latest release from the drill pioneer is a smorgasbord of different genres and vocal experiments that’s as unconventional as any project that Sosa has released in recent years. It’s Keef’s Kunstkabinett; it attempts to fuse country-esque serenading with orchestral flourishes (“Chiraq”) and audaciously dabbles in EDM-augmented sonics (“Soldier”). The latter choice of production has been heavily criticized as a too-radical departure from the traditional trap sound that Keef has employed — and also because of the way the EDM sound found its way into these songs. Essentially, some of the tracks here were changed at the last second (and behind King Glo’s back) by billionaire Alki David — the head of FilmOn, the label Keef is currently signed to — in an effort to make a more ‘commercial’ release. In any case, as a result, “Soldier,” “Shorty,” “Viral,” and several stray remixes towards the end of The Cozart rank as some of the most bizarre moments to ever appear on a Keef project.
But we’re still talking about the man who announced, earlier this summer, that he was touring via hologram — and the same artist who once prominently featured Kanye West auto-humming for nearly four minutes (on the beautiful 2014 track “Nobody”). The point being, unorthodoxy is kind of Keef’s trademark, and the conflicted intentionality behind these recordings seems to have only contributed to a greater final result — a release with two competing visions allowed to collide with each other, to thrilling effect. Add to all that complexity on the production side some of Keef’s most full-on absurdist lyricism, including stray shards of Lacanian thought (“I look in the mirror, I see fucking me”) and hilariously-phrased admissions of his own failings (“All I know is fucking poo”). None of this is to say that all signs of the original Sosa are gone, either: “Barry Bonds” features conventionally slow-paced, yet hard-hitting, 808 drum-bleats and Keef’s more familiarly affected vocal delivery. So for the myrmidons who still believe in the gospel of Chief Keef, this is really everything one could love about the oddball artist, distilled down to a surprisingly brisk 50 minutes — with the added benefit of assuring that Chicago’s own has the capacity to surprise us.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Issue 3