He hasn't graduated from high school yet, but Chief Keef is already looking like rap's Most Likely to Succeed for 2013. Since the release of his 2011 breakout single "Bang," the Chicago Southsider has gone from being on house arrest at his grandmother's to landing a label deal with Interscope Records at the age of 16. Keef is not just one of the hottest new artists in rap, he's also one of the most reviled. Though he's an obvious contender for rookie of the year, his deceptively simple hooks and unrepentant misbehavior have led to misgivings among the hip-hop intelligentsia. But let's keep it one hundred—or better yet, 3Hunna: Regardless of the critics, Chief Keef is winning.
Although he scared Lupe Fiasco, Keef has been endorsed by hip-hop's elite—from Kanye West, who remixed "I Don't Like," to 50 Cent and Wiz Khalifa, who appear on his single "Hate Being Sober," although the fate of the song's video remains unclear (more on that later). For someone who's known for songs like "Love Sosa," Keef sure does inspire a lot of hate. His debut album, Finally Rich, which will be released tomorrow—three days before the Mayan apocalypse—has been hailed as a landmark release and described as a harbinger of doom. It's one of the most important and least understood records you're likely to hear this year.
To celebrate the event, Complex collaborated with Keef and his team on a week filled with exclusive features, anchored by this digital cover. Complex staff writer David Drake—a Chicago native who penned the first major piece on Keef earlier this year—drew on months of research for his must-read cover story about Keef's meteoric rise to fame and what it means for him, for his city, and for hip-hop. Keep checking back all week for more from Keef as well as his go-to producer Young Chop and video director D.Gainz as we bring you the full story on this rap phenomenon. Chief Keef's success marks the rise of a new kind of rap star, so relax and take notes. Class is in session.