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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 22, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Chief Keef releases lo-fi mixtape independently

"Back from the Dead 2"

Chief Keef

Being dropped from a major label evidently hasn’t slowed rapper Chief Keef down. Since Interscope Records announced the sacking in October, Keef has released two mixtapes and plans on releasing two more before the year is out. His most recent mixtape, “Back from the Dead 2,” which was largely produced by Keef himself, features a much more simplistic style of beat than his last studio album. However, his rhymes are still as solid as ever.

The first track, “Feds,” more or less sets the tone for the rest of the tape. It’s low-key and steady with a quiet synthesized beat playing below Keef’s slightly mumbled raps and exclamations of “bang” and “gang.” Lyrically, this mixtape misses much of the self-congratulatory dreck that twinkled throughout Keef’s last studio album, “Finally Rich.” This new album is much more stripped down and grittier than its studio predecessor. Keef’s production sounds surprisingly homemade with the occasional spooky-sounding, on-theme Halloween sound effects laced with the repetitive trap music. This amateur style is surprising for the king of Chicago street rap, who seemed so at home in the expensive production of “Finally Rich.”

In “Back from the Dead 2,” Keef’s sound skews more toward the simple, sometimes echoed raps of Lil B than the hazy sound of Gucci Mane, with whom he collaborated on “Big Gucci Sosa.” Unlike Lil B, Keef’s lyrics are still gloomy, albeit vulgar, staying true to the Chicago hip-hop tradition of rapping about shooting, murder and kush.

It appears that all Keef really lost after getting dropped from Interscope are higher production values. Keef’s more primitive-sounding beats on “Back from the Dead 2” still make room for his usual boisterous and unabashedly crude persona.

Evin Billington can be reached at ebillin1@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @EvinBillington