Finally Rich (Deluxe Version)

Finally Rich (Deluxe Version)

Over the course of 2012, Chief Keef had gone from a mostly unknown Chicago cult figure to hip-hop’s buzziest phenomenon. In less than a year, the teen superstar had dropped an instant classic single (the hater’s anthem “I Don’t Like”); incited a major-label bidding frenzy, and reinvigorated mainstream interest in Chicago’s thriving underground rap scene. All that, and he still hadn’t released his official debut. So when Finally Rich finally arrived, expectations were high, with fans and doubters alike waiting breathlessly to see if all that hype would pay off. A less confident artist might have approached this high-pressure situation cautiously, making sure to call in big-gun cameos and packing the tracklist with flashy features and trendy producers. To be sure, there are a handful of big-name guests scattered across Finally Rich: A Rick Ross verse is appended to the older mixtape hit “3Hunna,” while 50 Cent and Wiz Khalifa are shoehorned into the proudly hedonistic “Hate Bein’ Sober.” But these moments mostly emphasize the success of Keef’s stand-alone vision. If anything, the established rap superpowers seem a bit awkward situating themselves within the 17-year-old’s universe—a universe that comes with its own slang, characters, and codes of honor (not to mention its own slightly-off rhythms). Finally Rich is at its best when it’s fully immersed in Keef’s world, a feat that’s accomplished with plenty of help from Keef’s go-to producer, Young Chop, whose wall-of-sound beats had defined the sound of Chicago drill (and who’s credited on more than half the album). Finally Rich lets loose a small handful of undeniable hits, including “Love Sosa,” a power dirge whose darkly catchy hook would be shouted loud at parties throughout the fall and winter of 2012. But just as worthwhile, and as influential, are deep cuts like “Citgo,” a shimmering mirage of slurry drill balladry that quietly inspired the rappers and producers who’d define the next decade of rap—many of them self-taught musicians who made themselves in Keef’s iconoclastic image.

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