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On October 21st, Chicago rapper Chief Keef took to Twitter to confirm that he had been dropped from his label, Interscope. Immediately upon hearing the news, people started speculating about the reasons for the split.Top of the list? Keef’s criminal record:

Chief Keef’s rap sheet (of the criminal kind) may have led to Interscope’s decision to drop him. The Chicago rapper has a long list of misdemeanours, including possession of a firearm, distribution of heroin and various probation violations.

BET also went with the crime angle, stating that Keef was dropped because:

… he couldn’t seem to stay out of trouble long enough to focus solely on the music, including being in jail when his debut, Finally Rich, dropped.

And even Keef admits that there was friction with Interscope. However, he blames the label. Keef was not pleased with how Interscope promoted his debut album, Finally Rich and was unhappy with how the label was handling his career. In fact, he moved his crew from Chicago to LA:

…to keep the label accountable…but Interscope didn’t seem interested in dropping a new album. Keef’s team tried to have formal meetings but nothing moved… Additionally, there was some left over bad blood stemming from how Chief Keef’s first album was marketed and promoted.

Insiders say friction intensified until there were arguments with higher-ups in Interscope over how Keef’s career was being handled. Shortly thereafter, Keef was quietly released from his contract

Further complicating the situation was the fact that two of the Interscope executives that had signed Keef were gone. Keef explained on Twitter that:

When Jimmy n Dre left that’s when I said f-ck Interscope! Big D-ck style. that’s what I signed up for not this new staff! Of WhiteHonkies!

Music industry legends Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre had been with Interscope when Chief Keef was signed. However, after selling Beats to Apple, both men left Interscope to take senior positions with Apple. Replacing Iovine at the top of Interscope was John Janick and the new staff of “white honkies” Keef so eloquently disliked.

But Keef was not dropped because of personality conflicts. And he was not dropped because of his criminal record.

Crime Never Hurt a Rapper’s Career

Think about it – if being a criminal could get a rapper dropped from a label, rap as we know it would not exist. Rap was built on crime and the image of criminality. It uses the same formula that has always worked to captivate the masses: Sex and Violence.

If you had to pick one record label that embodied this ethos, it would probably be Death Row. Everything about Death Row Records centered on violence:

The logo for Death Row Records is a blindfolded black man strapped into an electric chair at the moment of execution. Death Row is the label that made rappers such as Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Tupac Shakur famous, and its logo is emblematic of the violent posturing adopted by many gangsta rap artists — not just Death Row artists — in their quest to sell their music.

But it wasn’t an act just to move units. Death Row really was violent. The federal government conducted an investigation into Death Row “to determine whether Death Row is being run as a criminal enterprise.” Many Death Row artists were either murdered or accused of murder. Tupac Shakur’s murder was a seminal moment in rap history. And, Snoop Dogg was tried and acquitted of murder charges when he was 23 – only slightly older than Chief Keef is now.

90’s era rap was arguably the most blatantly violent and criminal era of rap. Death Row was arguably the most violent label of the time. And Interscope records was Death Row’s parent label.

That’s why, despite what people might say, Chief Keef was not dropped because of any gun charges, drug charges or probation violations.

Chief Keef was signed in 2012 to a deal reportedly worth $6 million dollars:

Chief Keef signed a three-album contract — and a separate deal to control his own record label — with Interscope Records that could pay the South Side gangster rapper more than $6 million over three years. A split of future royalties could make for an even bigger payday, according to court papers.

However, as part of the contract, if Keef didn’t “sell at least 250,000 copies by December 2013, Interscope [could] pull the plug on the deal.” Unfortunately for Keef, he missed his numbers. When he dropped his album, Finally Rich, it was initially only able to sell:

about 50,000 units even though Keef’s persona, public awareness and popularity would seem to warrant more sales. Today, Finally Rich still has not moved over 200,000 copies.

That’s why the allegations that he was dropped for his behavior is a joke. Interscope didn’t drop Snoop when he was on trial for murder because they knew Doggystyle would go big. And it did, selling 802,858 units its first week. Had Keef moved that many units his first week, Interscope would have forgiven him anything.

But Keef committed the one unforgivable sin that an artist signed to a label can make… he didn’t sell enough units.

8 Responses

  1. vic

    The record industry should have taken this stance on criminal accountability not just for rappers but everyone who engages the public through music and or TV.

    • Rocky

      Laws should be adhered to no special deals for ANYONE, stop letting people get hand slaps for crimes that call out prison time. We have elected politicians at high levels pushing for rediculiously reduced sentences on these criminals. Enforce current laws no need for new laws and make politicians accountable of breaking immigration laws!!!

    • Rocky

      Absolutely correct, I would agree the same demand to the trash coming out of Hollywood. I have never seen so much political correctness BS, it really picked up after the 2008 elections. I see Hollywood adding to the violence and terrorism with ideas and how to do terror on innocent people. I would add to the guilty culprits the liberal one sided reporting of the National Media. We need a change from this change, I will make my stance felt in the November election, I hope the election process is not being manipulated by the powerful Tech Giants fraud in voting manipulation or by threats to those who oppose those who think differently.

  2. Santiago

    Asking questions are in fact pleasant thing if you are not understanding
    anything completely, but this piece of writing presents good understanding yet.

  3. Wade

    When is pop culture going to be shaped by inspiring messages? Where are the talented artists with a positive message in great musician?


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