Nathan S. 's avatar

On Chief Keef, Lupe Fiasco, Retirement & Hip-Hop’s Ongoing Genocide

Posted by Nathan S. on 09/06/12 | Filed under Top Stories, Opinion, Lupe Fiasco, Chief Keef
Sweet baby jesus, where do I even start?

Yesterday Chief Keef, the teenage Chicago phenomenon the internet can't get enough of, changed the course of hip-hop history with a single tweet:

Only Keef knows what he was thinking when he wrote that, and I'm not entirely sure even Keef knows what Keef was thinking, but we can guess. Word must have gotten around to him that Lupe had been speaking about him, and he assumed Lupe's words were of the "fuck these young kids", old guys vs. new guys, hater variety.

It is true that Lupe had been speaking about Keef in nearly every forum he could find over the last two weeks, although it'd be more accurate to say that he'd been talking about what Keef represents, the mindset of a generation that seems to relate so powerfully to Keef.

When Lupe said, "Chief Keef scares me," he really meant "Chicago is a motherfucking terrifying place." So far the Windy City has seen over 350 people murdered in 2012, and many of victims and murderers have been black men like Lupe and Keef. Some have labeled it a genocide, it's hard to disagree.

As I've written before, I believe that Keef really is an accurate reflection, an embodiment, of how tragically fucked Chicago is right now. It seems like Lupe believes that too, and his response seemed to bear that out:

The fact that Keef retweeted Lupe is what I guess passes for squashing beef in 2012, but the damage had apparently been done. Shortly after, Lupe took things a step further, announcing his retirement after the release of his upcoming album, "Food & Liquor 2":

For the record, this isn't the first time Lupe's threatened retirement. Back in a '08 interview on the mothership he actually announced he was retiring after releasing "The Cool". It's been four years since then and the man's still making music.

The cynical will see Lupe's "retirement" as a play for media attention right out of the Brett Farve playbook, but I think we have to believe that Lupe means it. Or at least he means it right now - we'll see how he feels when "F&L 2" drops and does well, or in two years when he starts missing the spotlight. All that would make him is the eleven-billionth artist or athlete to retire, see that retirement sucks, and un-retire as quickly as possible.

For now though, I think Lupe is genuinely looking around at the world around him in desperation. That emotion, the raw emotion that drove him to tears during a MTV Fix interview, is the same emotion that drives someone to suddenly "retire" because of a Twitter comment (skip to the 3:30 mark):

To say that Chief Keef pushed Lupe into retirement is to miss the point, and Lupe's point, entirely. Keef isn't the reason Lupe's hanging up his mic. The city that created Keef, the underfunded schools and hyper-violence, the unemployment and hopelessness, and a music industry that sees that hopelessness as a profit opportunity, those are the reasons that Lupe's walking away. When Keef's response to someone being murdered is laughter, it's hard to see things getting better anytime soon, and no rap song or Tweet or post can help. The problem is much deeper and insidious.

Gawker could have never written that article about Keef, Kanye could have never remixed "I Don't Like", Interscope could have never signed him, and the streets of Chicago (and hundreds of other cities) would still be filled with dead bodies.

Is hip-hop the cause of that violence? Lil Wayne co-signing Lil Mouse on "D4" certainly feels like the coming of the apocalypse. Is hip-hop also then part of the solution? Is there anything we can actually do to improve the lives of so many young people trapped in city without a future?

Those are the real questions we should be asking ourselves. And this is nothing new, this is just the next generation of the "rap creates reality" vs. "rappers are just reporting on a reality that already exists" debate that's been going on since N.W.A. first came "Straight Outta Compton".

But instead of asking those hard questions, and at least struggling in vain to come up with answers, Chief Keef vs. Lupe will be a trending topic for a week and then disappear when Kanye drops a new song off "Cruel Summer".

It's enough to make a blogger want to retire.

UPDATE: As always, the homie Andrea Hale comes through with commentary worth reading as well.

See Also: Chief Keef Doesn’t Give a F**k About Kanye & Lil Wayne, I Like Chief Keef More & More

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