Chief Keef’s “24″ sounds like it’s being played through a fishbowl. Keef’s bellowing voice is pressed right up against your ear, but the two messily synced identical vocal tracks give the impression that he’s actually yelling at himself, not you. The “boom” of the downbeat always feels like it’s about to arrive late. Everything’s slightly off. It’s hard not to feel a little staggery listening to it.
Plenty of rap listeners regard the rough edges in Keef’s music with distaste, hearing only ineptitude. But if you accept the basic concept that Chief Keef’s music has its own vocabulary, you can find plenty of fascinating little rules at work. The best Chief Keef songs feel like they’re here to confuse you about what rap songs are supposed to be doing. At every second, “24″ feels like it might grow distracted and sprout into a different song. Keef’s love affair with the mainstream rap affair was brutishly short, but he’s gone on to develop the borders of his sound, and he dials in on potent feelings of nausea, dread, paranoia. The horror movie screams and gun shots in the background of the beat are familiar, but everything around them feels like it’s slinking away, receding from your comprehension.