Chief Keef Brings Joy to a Monday Night in New York

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The chatter at Manhattan’s Gramercy Theatre last night was that Chief Keef, the notorious Chicago drill music icon, wouldn’t show up. Apparently that’s a common suspicion.

“People always say that! Make sure you write that,” said Keef’s tour manager Reg before the start of the concert.

Keef does have a history of late performances and no-shows, and the DJs at the Gramercy had been obviously lying for an hour:

“Chief Keef is on his way”

“He just got here.

“The show’s about to start, so shut the fuck up.”

The bartender told me a rumor that Keef has an arrest warrant in New York City and that’s why there were eight cops in the front doorway.

But that was all hype. Really he was an hour late on some low-key rock star shit, and all was instantly forgiven when his brother Ballout rushed the stage for short set. And then Sosa hopped out for his verse on “Been Balling,” dreads shaking, chain dangling over an Off-White tee.

He rocked the crowd of around 500 fans for an hour. If you overlooked the “we’ll kill you” subject matter in most of the songs, it was a lighthearted evening, and in any case an energizing one. Keef ended on a high note with adults, middle school kids, and adult-kid hypebeasts shouting along to “Faneto.” “What you smoking on? Gas motherfucker!”

The setlist included songs off Chief Keef’s September-released The W mixtape (“Germs” goes), classics from four and five years ago like “Love No Thotties” and “Don’t Like,” and fan favorites like “Earned It”—another shout-along opportunity that everyone took full advantage of. 

During the show, Keef didn’t banter at all and had hella hype men and 40 random people up there on stage with him. As he performed, it was impossible to pick out his voice. But it didn’t matter. Whether or not he actually rapped his music, nobody cared. He spoke with body language—the cult of personality was strong and the music was slamming.

After “Faneto,” Keef wandered off stage and outside while DJ Amaris continued to shout promo about Chief Keef’s Dedication, which is coming out December 1. The track ”Come On Now” with Lil Yachty is already available.

As Keef hung out with fans outside the venue under the marquee, he was quiet and reserved. His throng clung close while also self-policing and demanding space. Someone shouted, “This is some celebrity shit!” But the energy felt more religious.

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