BANG 3, PT. 2 by Chief Keef
Favorite Tracks: “Bouncin”, “Irri (featuring Lil B)”, “OG Fiji”
Chief Keef has firmly situated himself among the strangest figures in modern hip hop. By now, his legacy (as it were) has become known to anyone who’s been active in music consumption the past handful of years. After the explosive success of his 2012 trap singles (“I Don’t Like”, “Love Sosa”), Keef’s future at Interscope Records seemed indefinite. Unfortunately, 2013 demonstrated a near dearth of creative output (two middling mixtapes, BANG, PT. 2 and ALMIGHTY SO), and although he would hold on until October of 2014, Interscope abandoned Keith Cozart less than two weeks before the much-hyped release of BACK FROM THE DEAD 2. Although it’s objectively difficult to proclaim that things got worse, things certainly got weirder. Keef experimented more and more with producing his own work, adopting a new delivery style intimately tied to higher-pitched Auto-Tune warbling (one need look no further than 2014’s NOBODY to realize that we’re no longer dealing with the Chief Keef we once knew and loved). Although his career has historically been hit-or-miss, BANG 3, PT. 2 is almost entirely predictable, taking a large portion of the fun out of waiting to see just what in the Hell Keef is going to come up with next.
BANG 3, PT. 2 initially starts off as more organic than its immediate predecessors. Keef seems a touch more energetic and a touch less processed on “Pee Pee’d” and “Wit It”, pulling the focus towards the self-produced instrumentation, which is forward-thinking and nearly acts as a reference point for progressive electronic. However, Keef can never manage to fully lock in to the (admittedly) challenging beat, and the album doesn’t truly pick up until “Bouncin”, a trap-influenced anthem of violence that packs Keef’s signature brand of polished hedonism. Unfortunately, the steam already begins to dissipate on follow-up “Charge My Car”, and rarely returns over the remainder of the album.
Keef too easily falls into comfortable realms of inebriated crooning, as “Get That Sack” and “Gloin” sound like the same quality of mixtape fodder that we’ve been hearing for two years now. Although there are particular moments that shine (the snarl he ends his verses with on “Racist”, the sunnier, bop-oriented aesthetics of “It’s More”), Keef shoots himself in the foot with his aspirations of auterism. Although taking the majority of the production reigns is forgivable, there is simply no reason for Keef to insist on his own voice being the sole performer on eleven of the twelve tracks. “Irri”, a song featuring the seemingly incongruous Lil B, works like a charm due to the breath of fresh air it offers, as Lil B’s relaxed verse injects a soothing dichotomy to Keef’s agitated, paranoid flow. BANG 3, PT. 2 needs more moments like this, as Keef’s more recyclable elements become progressively claustrophobic as the release begins to drag.
BANG 3 has been hyped since December of 2013, so it’s no surprise that a year and a half of production woes did nothing to improve its overall quality. But whereas the first installment felt like a cohesive artistic vision when put up against its dump-truck mixtape peers, the second installment feels like a distillation of what made BANG 3 enjoyable (and doesn’t possess the transcendentally bizarre moment that “Ain’t Missing You” provides). It’s hard to comprehensively criticize Chief Keef, as he’s truly the only one that makes hip hop like he does, but the trajectory he’s acted out up until now leaves the audience wanting more.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend