“Finally Rich,” Chief Keef (Interscope)
The only way to get through Chief Keef’s “Finally Rich” is to check your morality at the door.
The 17-year-old rapper, aka Keith Cozart, who was arrested a year ago on a weapons charge and put under house arrest, is sure to stir anger for his relentless threats of violence and liberal use of a racial epithet, not to mention a cover photo depicting the underage rapper exhaling a cloud of smoke and holding a lighter. Oh yeah, he also boasts, “I smoked all the dope” on the title track, so there’s that, too (a point reiterated on the cut “Hate Bein’ Sober” with its line, “You smoke by the ounce ... I smoke by the pound”). The teenager has already whipped up a storm of scorn — and some in the rap community might have an additional problem with his swift ascent considering his rudimentary sound and marginal lyrical talent.
Still, despite his off-putting persona and dubious skills, Chief Keef doesn’t seem especially egregious in the context of the teen demographic’s historic embrace of everything from punk rock to death metal to juvenile pop skanks.
And the Chicago rapper has something. It needs polishing and development, but Chief Keef has a mesmerizing way about his delivery, his low growl rolling into the rudimentary arrangements and concocting an hypnotic, if nihilistic, atmosphere. Alternating between rage and braggadocio, the rapper rises out of basic foundations with a surprising knack for hooks, be it in the sing-songy cadence of the inflammatory “I Don’t Like” or in the slow-motion boom of “Diamonds.”
It’s noteworthy that the many guests on “Finally Rich” barely make an impression, including 50 Cent, Wiz Khalifah, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Lil Reese and French Montana.
The production is partly to blame, but nevertheless, if the kid can avoid being upstaged by those heavy hitters, he’s doing something right.
Rating (five possible): 2-1/2