Chief Keef, Chicago's reigning street rap star, first came of age via a string of popular YouTube videos where he flatly sputtered heartless incantations about death and profit. On his debut album, the 17-year-old remains an inarticulate, mush-mouthed mess of a rapper, but when he sticks to the confines of this narrow skill set the results can be magnificent. His main trick entails hammering away at a single stunted cadence for the duration of a song as if to burn it into listeners' brains. The malicious breakout "I Don't Like" resonates for this very reason, and follow-ups like "Love Sosa" and "Hate Bein' Sober" stretch the same formula to more melodic ends. When Keef stumbles, he stumbles hard, and his lyrical limitations are especially apparent in the presence of elder guests like 50 Cent and Young Jeezy. But maybe it's unfair to measure his success by the standards of past generations; the new rap language is nearly an indecipherable one.
Andrew Nosnitsky, Google Play