Chicago’s Chief Keef and others helped to usher in a new sound known as “Drill,” creating a mystique that somehow connected the menacing music with the city’s rising crime rates. In a profile piece from Playboy, the “Chiraq” Hip-Hop scene is examined through the eyes and experiences of some of the scene’s top acts.
Investigative journalist Ethan Brown was tasked with shadowing Def Jam artist Lil Reese in his “To Live & Die In Chiraq” piece, who nearly robs a friend of a piece of jewelry before cooler heads prevail with the help of Glory Boyz Entertainment manager Idris Abdul “Peeda Pan” Wahid.
The tense scene sets up the rest of the article, giving readers an inside look in the insular rap circles that make the so-called “Chiraq” scene both intriguing and potentially dangerous.
When Lil Reese tells you to get out of the car, you exit the vehicle as fast as you can.
The tension began to boil at breakfast when Brandon, a paunchy white kid and perennial sidekick to Chicago’s hip-hop elite, promised Reese a free necklace from a jeweler friend in Los Angeles who bills himself as “Your Rapper’s Favorite Jeweler.” Now, in the backseat of a Chevy Malibu parked on Chicago’s South Side, Brandon’s generosity has been turned on its head by Reese, a brooding 21-year-old with bushy eyebrows and tattoos that crawl up his arms and onto his neck like lichen on an oak tree. Put simply: If you offer Reese a necklace, he’s going to want it now.
Brown also delves into the connections to violent crime Reese, Keef, Lil Durk and other acts have by way of their reported affiliation with rival Black Disciples and Gangster Disciples street gangs. The piece also hones in on Keef’s rise from a local buzzing rap act to social media phenomenon after putting out a series of well-received mixtapes and Web-only singles.
By now, the $6 million deal Interscope reportedly gave Keef is old news but gave hope to many of the city’s hopefuls that they too could become millionares overnight.
Keef himself makes an appearance in the article, then at the time still in rehab in California. With his usual reckless aplomb, Keef responds to critics who blasted the teenager for proudly boasting he’ll raise the murder rate with his new Bang 3 mixtape.
I’m just crazy, man,” Keef says. “I don’t give a f-ck about what I say, you know? Serious. Actions speak louder than words. Can I really raise the murder rate off a CD? That’s a whole bunch of bullsh-t.”
The profile is part of Playboy‘s Sex & Music 2014 issue, which is on newsstands now.