Chief Keef: Chicago’s Most Promising Anti-Hero

It might sound crazy, but the notorious, teenage, gun-waving rapper could be a solution for a city struggling with violence

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Back in April east-side rapper Keith Cozart uploaded a video to YouTube, “Chief Keef Tweaking Off Soulja Boy Gold Bricks *SONG*,” that would help make him the most polarizing teenage cultural export Chicago has ever seen. Filmed with a computer camera and set in a room littered with clothes, the video features a dreadlocked 16-year-old brandishing a messy stack of bills, peeling off one after another and waving them in front of the camera—first the Benjamins, then the Grants, then the Jacksons—as Soulja Boy’s Auto-Tune-plastered track leaks out from the computer’s speakers. Cozart half mumbles, half sings his way through the song, taking breaks from flashing his cash to show off his white tank top and iPhone, and to strike a variety of hard-looking poses. This kind of flaunting is pretty common in an age when any kid with an ego and Internet access can upload braggadocio to his preferred social media site; what sets Cozart apart is that just a few months after recording the video he swung by the Pitchfork Music Festival for a cameo performance—in front of a thunderous crowd of thousands of surprised attendees—that became a highlight of the weekend.

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