Chief Keef is turning 19, and to celebrate, he’s dishing details of a new album and a surprise Los Angeles concert he promises will prove to fans he is a man of his word.
“It’s my birthday and I wanna show the world that I’m doing shows,” says Keef, the hip-hop phenom whose music, though polarizing to some, has redefined the sound of the city’s South Side. “[Why?] A lot of people, because of the past, know me not [to] show up to a show. So I’m going to give one for the people, and for the people who ain’t never seen me in concert.”
In terms of “doing shows,” Keef is referring to a string of instances in which his concerts were canceled or he was a no-show. A July concert in Cicero was canceled by the town, which cited security reasons for the stoppage. And there are at least two lawsuits seeking damages for breach of contract.
Neither Keef, whose legal name is Keith Cozart, nor his management spoke about resolved or ongoing breach of contract lawsuits for this story, but they do say Keef is going to make up the missed shows.
Wednesday’s concert, streamed live on direct-to-your-device Web service stageit.com is the first so-called makeup concert. Fans can purchase access to the Wednesday birthday concert, and his management is researching how to allow missed-concert ticket-holders free access to such concerts in the future.
“This is Keef going directly to his fans, and this is going to be something where [his cancellation] is out of the question and not part of any scenario,” says his manager Rovan “Dro” Manuel, who added that the star has to promote his upcoming album set for a September release.
That album is “Bang 3,” and Keef is in the studio putting the finishing touches on it. It initially was to be released in early June, and it reportedly features a number of A-listers in the rap game, including A$AP Rocky and Kanye West. (West bumped Keef’s last big hit, “I Don’t Like,” into the stratosphere by remixing it and shouting Keef out.)
Keef says the album will be “mostly drill,” and perhaps he’ll perform a track or two at this LA concert, planned for The Attic nightclub in Hollywood. There, 1,000 fans will see the live performance and thousands more are estimated to plug in via the Internet, which,frankly, is home to Keef’s strongest, youngest and digitally connected audience.
Keef’s Glo Gang and R&B singer Rayven Justice also will perform. Fans will be asked to drop dollars into a “tip jar” whose funds likely will be donated to a Chicago high school.
Keef also is working on a song advocating for nonviolence. Two years ago, he was investigated in connection with the shooting death of Chicago rapper Joseph “Lil JoJo” Coleman, and earlier this year his cousin, Mario “Big Glo” Hess, was shot and killed.
Though the Chicago Police Department in fall 2012 wanted Keef to be held in juvenile detention, he instead moved to California for safety and a change of lifestyle. Then in January 2013, Keef was sentenced to 60 days in juvenile detention for violating his probation on a gun conviction and was released March 14, 2013.
He hopes this next album and concert will show a more well-rounded picture of his business savvy, marked in part by garnering one of the largest record deals ever brokered by a teenage star from Chicago.
“This [kind of concert] could be the future,” he says. “I mean, I’m one of the first [locals] to really do it, so you know I’m the Internet kind, and this is the new way.”
Tickets for the online show can be purchased here.