From The New Republic: Is It OK for White Music Critics to Like Violent Rap?

From The New Republic:

If you’ve heard of Chief Keef, a 17-year-old rapper from Chicago, it may be because he signed a $3 million dollar recording contract with Interscope Records last year, soon after spending two months under house arrest at his grandmother’s for pointing a gun at a police officer. Or you may have heard his biggest hit, “I Don’t Like,” a list of things he finds disagreeable punctuated with boasts of his virility, copious drug references,and murderous threats. “We ain’t gon’ fight,” he raps. “Our guns gon’ fight…” It’s a great song, mostly due to the powerful beat constructed by producer Young Chop, but one of the catchiest parts is Keef chanting “bang bang” in the background—a sound that has become all too common in Chicago, which had more than 500 murders last year.



Chief Keef is black, as are a disproportionate number of gun-violence victims in this country, and his music has been criticized for glorifying guns, which it does. He has also been criticized for being a poor rapper. His lyrics are terse and simple and delivered in a blunt, heavily slurred monotone. The Associated Press’ Jonathan Landrum called Keef’s major-label debut “woeful” and “borderline unbearable.” Nevertheless, when that album, Finally Rich (a sublimely ridiculous title, considering Keef’s age), came out in December, it had its supporters, too. Pitchfork’s Jayson Greene awarded it a 7.5 rating, calling it “ruthlessly effective.” Spin’s Jordan Sargent gave it an 8, praising Keef’s “unalienable artistic skill that so many people are invested in making you believe he doesn’t possess.” Cocaine Blunts blogger Andrew “Noz” Nosnitsky chose “Don’t Like” as his third favorite rap single of the year and tweeted, “chief keef made a fun album. i don’t know what the rest of you critics are listening to.” 


Greene, Sargent, and Noz are white, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Keef’s detractors.

Continue reading the rest of the story on The New Republic