After being dropped by Interscope after his sole proper studio album on the label flopped (2012’s excellent Finally Rich), Chief Keef released a slew of lo-fi projects, culminating with the borderline avant-garde Back from the Dead 2. Largely produced by Sosa himself, the sequel to his breakout mixtape had more in common with Metal Machine Music than it did with anything else in the artist’s discography up to that point; it was choppy, frantically abrasive, and sounded like it was recorded on a used iPhone 4. Yet, there’s something so unabashedly euphoric about Keef indulging all of his oddball vocal tendencies, and that’s what kept that project from falling apart. It’s this same approach that makes his new collaboration with the self-proclaimed “creator” of trap music, Zaytoven, equally as thrilling: on GloToven, artist and muse work in lockstep, and on equal footing (Zay has even noted in recent interviews the complete creative freedom he had when working with Keef), for a project that’s both parts outlandish tomfoolery and innovate sincerity. There’s the usual Sosa trappings of hard-hitting street anthems (“Sneeze” and “F What the Opp Said”) and mournful tearjerkers (“Ain’t Gonna Happen,” his first track to mention the passing of Keef’s older cousin, Fredo Santana).
But where the tape really shines is in the moments when Zaytoven lets King Glo experiment: “Fast” repeatedly starts and stops its high-toned beat to build-up Sosa’s half-sung momentum, while “Han Han” features one of Keef’s most outlandish inflections, which serves as one of his most memorable choruses since the low-register chuckle of “Laughing to the Bank.” On “Spy Kid,” Keef casually whips-up melodies from the simplest of phrases, stretching out the word “there” with such an elongated croak that it practically becomes the hook of the track itself. So what is ‘over there’ that Keef wishes to point out? Dinosaur OG’s paying no respect to him, or the new wave he’s helped to usher in (one playful instance of mentor meets student: Lil Pump shows up on “Old Heads and Regretful Hoes,” to help callout the doubters); the view of the city from his penthouse in L.A.; and even “a kid that wanna live a dream.” While Keef himself may not be living out his own dreams, currently — at least in terms of his general popularity (or lack thereof) — he’s found a meaningful way to exist in the modern rap landscape, by bucking the system and doing pretty much whatever he wants. We, the listeners, couldn’t be more blessed.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Issue 7