Words by Katrina LaZara (@katlaz26)
In 2016, Chief Keef still has more influence than most would like to admit. The now 20-year-old skyrocketed to fame back in 2012, while he was on house arrest at his Grandmother’s house in Chicago. Keef has come a long way since his days of releasing music on YouTube, but the ride to superstardom has been rocky. Most recently, Keef’s music has been viciously leaked on the internet without consent. Alki David, Keef’s business partner, is currently suing Google, and 15 other defendants for an estimated $20 million dollars for their roles in pirating Keef’s albums, Bang 3 Pt 1, and Bang 3 Pt 2. However, as we’ve recently learned, that may just be the tip of the iceberg.
76 of Keef’s tracks have been leaked so far in 2016. Even while billionaire Alki David sues 15 of the small time YouTube account holders, it doesn’t seem to be shaking any of the diehard fans that also leak Keef’s music before an intended release.
The lawsuit is through Alki’s company, E. TV Networks Inc., which owns FilmOn. Keef’s contract is also through E. TV Network’s Inc., and currently Alki seems to be in litigation with Keef — meaning Keef is still suspended from his contract. The suspension prohibits Keef from going on tour, and releasing new material. This raises a lot of questions when Keef himself posts snippets of new songs weekly on his Instagram account. Owen Phillips, a spokesperson for FilmOn, initially agreed to discuss these pending matters alongside Alki and Fake Shore Drive, but later the pair denied all request to comment. Although it is uncertain when Keef’s suspension will end, it is clear that Alki is masterful at creating waves and drawing media attention to himself and his businesses…even if it is for suing his own talent.
News of these lawsuits did not hinder the activity on any of the online forums that Keef’s music has inspired. These discussions have hundreds of users all who share one common goal: find unreleased Chief Keef music. The online communities are active daily and boast Sosa fans from around the world. The content ranges from links, to comments, memes, pictures, videos, conversations, and even instances of users meeting up face to face; it is endless. No matter which Keef forum, there is always an easily accessible page of links that one may sift through containing any and all of Keef’s released and unreleased projects. Combining both the official and unofficial albums and mixtapes into one easily downloadable file that anyone can access simply by clicking a mouse, it truly is impressive. However, the organizational skill demonstrated in compiling a Google Drive of audio files doesn’t communicate the delicate game of cat and mouse that users go through to exchange unreleased tracks. There is very little trust, and almost always someone is bluffing.
TheShinyPanda is a regular among Sosa forums, and has gained notoriety for editing DJs taglines out of Keef’s unreleased projects. He explains, “It really depends on how bad one person wants one song. The people who sell songs off Instagram they will have in their bio, ‘I don’t send first,’ because if you send the song first and they don’t actually have anything then—that’s actually exactly how [the song], ‘Awkward’ got leaked. People have started to just send snippets in perfect quality to clarify that they have songs, but then again that doesn’t stop them from not sending the full thing.”
Another regular, arie2929, frequents the forums daily while dominating other social media platforms. His YouTube account has over 17 thousand subscribers, and he currently holds the seat for ‘OP,’ or ‘original poster’ on a Chief Keef thread containing over ten thousand pages of posts. Joining this forum last year was a learning experience.
“I had this misconception, this idea, this thought, that everybody had unreleased Chief Keef music and it was just about finding the right person and getting in his circle. I just thought everybody was passing it around and they were cool with each other — but that’s not how it works at all, like whatsoever. Its more like maybe three people have songs ever, and if more than three people have a song then it’s going to leak by the end of that day, or that hour probably. Nobody can hold on to music. At all. Ever. I found that out the hard way several times.”
With this kind of backlash, it is hard to imagine why users invest so much of their time and money into getting one artist’s music. TheShinyPanda recalls asking another user for Keef’s song, “Leanin’” and the user asking for $500. Although TheShinyPanda did not buy “Leanin’,” he has invested in buying other unreleased tracks in order to trade and sell for more Keef music.
“I mean making money off it is always fun, but that’s not exactly the goal here, and neither is like getting well-known for it. I’d say more of just having the songs, being able to listen to them. Just knowing what was created.”
This drive to seek out everything Keef has ever created is unmistakable throughout all the online communities. This obsession over one man’s music seems to derive from user’s intrigue about Keef himself as perceived from the rapper’s online persona. Keef’s social media accounts are the one realm of his life he appears to have full control over and he uses this platform to be truly authentic. It is here that users perhaps feel the most connection to Keef, with his profiles baring a striking resemblance to posts in most forums. Keef is genuine online, with honest comments and hilarious selfies, he posts freely in manner most with fame do not. This commonality may be attributed to the users and Keef being around the same age, however, this similarity also provokes criticisms among users about Keef’s career choices failing to showcase his full potential. The user’s passion in collecting every Keef project could be a result of this shortcoming — a third party salvaging what otherwise would be wasted talent.
The participants truly serve justice by amassing a great deal of knowledge on Keef and his music. The evidence of this can be seen in the organization of the collected music files. One forum has Keef’s songs divided by what drug he was on at the time of recording. Another, by what management he was under. The next, organized by popular opinion according to users in that thread. No matter what forum, every song, mixtape, album is there and ready to download. Even when the reviews for Keef’s music are negative, users like arie2929 stick to a high standard when posting audio files.
“If its going to get leaked it might as well get leaked the proper way, no tags, clean and just proper. You go on YouTube, and all the Chief Keef titles are all wrong they’re not even right it’s just so unorganized. So if it’s gonna get leaked anyways, it might as well just have the proper name. I don’t want any random artist to just put a feature on it because obviously, you know there are songs like that, like with Dinero.”
Dinero is one of the many who have taken advantage of Keef’s music leak problem. Details are hazy on how Dinero got his hands on Keef’s music, but rumor has it they spent time in the same studio in Chicago. Dinero was then able to take Keef’s files, and other come-up artists have tried similar schemes since. Accounts promising to release long awaited projects with [x] amount of retweets, but usually the poster is dishonest and soon their fast fame and new followers abandon ship.
Keef’s fan base is loyal, and new listeners join the forums daily eager to explore the vault of over 2,000 tracks Keef has created thus far. His authenticity and pure restlessness when it comes to making music has proven dedication. These couple thousand songs have influenced so many people’s day to day lives that it truly is singular. Although other artists have online forums, and get their music leaked, none are to this capacity and extent. There isn’t a lot of unreleased material left, however, since most of the songs remaining date back t0 2013-2014.
Once all of Keef’s unreleased music hits the streets, he will then have the ability to release his new material as intended (assuming his contract suspension is lifted). If Keef capitalizes on that opportunity who knows what is to come, but for now lets just wait for the remaining unreleased tracks and appreciate the GLO.
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