Ink

Chief Keef’s 2017 tour marks return to artfully abrasive rap

Chief Keef will perform Friday, Feb. 3, at the Bottleneck.
Chief Keef will perform Friday, Feb. 3, at the Bottleneck. .

Friday, Feb. 3, at the Bottleneck

More than 750 people were murdered in Chicago last year. The bleak output of controversial rapper Chief Keef reflects the dystopian violence of his city.

The horrific bloodletting has taken a toll on the man born Keith Cozart in 1995. On “Reefah,” a typically disturbing selection on his latest mixtape “Two Zero One Seven,” he notes that “when I look in the mirror, sometimes I see a demon.” Cozart’s recollection of his life as a gun-wielding high school dropout on “Reefah” seems less like a boast than an anguished plea for forgiveness.

Cozart’s life took another turbulent turn last week. He was arrested in California in connection with the home invasion of a business associate.

Although Cozart’s rapping has grown increasingly nuanced, his career is flagging. Having squandered the momentum created by his massive 2012 hits “I Don’t Like,” “Love Sosa” and “Hate Bein’ Sober,” Cozart impetuously announced his retirement from music last year.

Cozart’s departure from the scene didn’t last long, but much of the artfully abrasive music he has released in recent weeks contains a perplexing reticence. He insists that “I am not a rapper” on “Get Sleep.” Even so, Cozart is attempting to resurrect his enormously promising career on the Two Zero One Seven tour.

His opening acts on Friday include scabrous Brooklyn rapper Hoolie Gu and Ebony Tusks, a locally based crew with a positive perspective entirely at odds with Cozart’s diabolical nihilism.

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