A question on the occasion of the 13th or 14th time I've listened to Chief Keef's "I Don't Like (Remix)" today: Is anybody better at co-optation through collaboration than Kanye West?
Chief Keef is a previously superunknown, dreadlocked 16-year-old rapper from Chicago's South Side. Earlier this year, he became a viral fascination after a video of a very, very excited young man in a wood-paneled rec room celebrating Keef's release from jail on weapons charges became a hit on Worldstarhiphop.com. Keef was big among local high school kids, but he seemed to have no connections whatsoever, even on the regional level; in a hip-hop moment where even upstart blog-rap types like A$AP Rocky seem to arrive pre-assimilated, with label/media/fashion cosigns in place, that appearance of total aesthetic purity goes a long way. So did the detail that Keef has managed to blow up despite still being under house arrest at his grandmother's home, which is also the kind of hook that gets the attention of editors at outlets not normally known for commissioning long-form profiles of newish rappers (call it the Earl Sweatshirt Exemption).