Chief Keef wants to make a change. Following the death of one-year-old Dillan Harris, a casualty of a drive-by shooting that left Keef’s longtime friend and Glo Gang affiliate Capo dead at 22, Keef announced plans to hold a free concert to raise money for Harris’s family. The Glo Gang star, who will appear at the show via hologram, also expressed his desire to create a “Stop the Violence Now Foundation,” hoping to heal his native Chicago after years of war-like murder rates earned it the nickname “Chi-raq.”
Keef’s intentions are clearly genuine. If the loss of a close friend wasn’t enough to haunt the “I Don’t Like” MC’s conscience, the loss of an innocent one-year-old life surely weighed on him to the point he had to do something out of the ordinary. But why is it that we humans can only find a cause after personally experiencing the effects of our actions?
In the four years since Keef burst onto the scene as the defining artist of the city’s high-energy, ultra-violent Drill music scene, countless lives have been lost or destroyed as a result of gun violence. The murder of rival Chi-town MC Lil JoJo was mocked on Keef’s Twitter page (which he alleges was hacked) and even his diehard fans would be hard-pressed to find examples of Keef promoting peace in his lyrics. It makes it easy for outside observers to ask, “So you want to stop the violence NOW?”
Blaming any artist for depicting the ills they and their communities inherited from the powers that be is lazy and counter-productive. But it’s hard to argue that Keef and the Glory Boys haven’t benefited from glorifying the very lifestyle that contributed to the deaths of Harris and Capo. It’s even harder not to cringe at the thought of Keef performing the violent lyrics to hits like “Bang” and “3Hunna” at a benefit concert that was inspired by an act of senseless violence.
In the bigger picture, it’s hard to imagine how a spur-of-the-moment benefit concert and foundation can reverse the years of prison industrial complex propaganda that Keef’s former-record label, Interscope, was appropriating his music for. Granted, Keef is still only a teenager who barely escaped a similar fate himself. But if he is truly serious about making a long-term change in his community, this is just a tiny step in the direction of the real sacrifices he will have to make.
Buddhists refer to karma as “action driven by intention, which leads to future consequences.” Keef clearly feels some level of responsibility for how his past actions may have influenced this tragedy. Experiencing even indirect consequences of your actions will haunt your conscience no matter what your original intentions were. So while no rational being can argue that Keef or his Drill peers intended for their music and lifestyle to contribute to the deaths of Black children across the country, it will take many more deliberately peaceful actions than just one free concert if we hope to prevent consequences as tragic as the loss of Dillan Harris in the future.
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