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Chief Keef's 'Wait': Weirdest rap song of the week (or maybe the year)

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CHEIF KEEF
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Two years after blasting his way into the pop zeitgeist via Kanye’s remix of “I Don’t Like,” Chief Keef remains the poster boy for Chicago’s drill scene, despite the fact that he’s been moving away from that style’s blueprint for nearly as long. Earlier this year, he released the single “All I Care About” from his Bang 3 mixtape that split the difference between drill and the blues, mixing a twitchy beat made out of drill’s signature chattering hi-hats and funereal tolling bells with a yowling Auto-Tuned vocal part and a hypnotically circular melody, resulting in six minutes of heavy strangeness that doesn’t fit comfortably in any one established genre. (“Computerized gangster soul” might work.)

Last night he proved that his weird streak’s not only continuing, but intensifying when he posted a new single on YouTube. “Wait,” which Keef produced himself, is a strange mishmash of odd noises that shares some rhythmic qualities with rap but overall is more sonically similar to the experimental electronic music that back in the ’90s was called IDM, or “intelligent dance music”—in particular in its glitchy hi-hats and the unexpectedly gentle synth lead that sounds like something Aphex Twin might have made back in the Richard D. James Album era.

On its YouTube page the track is described as “speeded,” which seems to be the opposite of the “chopped and screwed” aesthetic that, 20 years after its invention by Houston’s DJ Screw, has embedded itself into the Top 40 thanks in large part to Beyoncé and Drake. Instead of slowing it to a cough-syrupy tempo, Keef’s gone the other way and sped everything up until his voice takes on a chipmunky pitch and the hi-hats blur into bursts of digital noise, sort of like the drill equivalent of happy hardcore techno.

It’s the most undeniably weird thing he’s ever done, and one of the weirdest things to pop up in the increasingly experimental rap scene in recent memory. But as strange as it is, it’s just as strangely addictive.

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