Review: Chief Keef, ‘4NEM’

Chicago’s frontier relives his glory days on the refreshing 4NEM, one of the best projects of his decade-long career.

Chief Keef is a drill and trap pioneer with countless influence that still makes its mark today. It’s even crazier to think that began when he was just 16 years old. Ever since taking the Gucci Mane approach with his output (forty mixtapes and counting), Keef’s maintained a cult fanbase that continue to check for him. Though this time, Keef’s given us an album, released in the final weeks of December 2021.

With refreshed production and charismatic energy, 4NEM bravely reintroduces the best attributes of trap music, erasing the monotony seen in recent years.

4NEM sounds like it’s straight out of a time capsule circa. 2010-12. There is Lex Luger’s era written all over it, etched into booming bangers like “Tuxedo”, “See Through” and “Say I Ain’t Pick Yo Weak Ass Up”. As a listener, it is invigorating to hear this production style back, offering an alternative to the rest of mainstream trap music. It’s no wonder the highs of 4NEM are such head-bangers, loud enough to put you in a neck brace.

But it’s not just the production that impresses. Chief Keef’s performances are some of his best to date, offering entertaining flows, one-liners, ad-libs and humour. “Yes Sir” is the greatest example, a tune that creeps into life then finds Keef squeezing every drop out of his syllable-stretching flow. It should be annoying, but it it’s nothing but amusing start to finish (“Test that shit out like a damn semester”).

4NEM ensures variation with spots that come close to hyperpop (or hyper-rap?). Opening track “Bitch Where” and “On What” are experimental moments that seek different direction to the rest of the album. But Keef is no stranger to this style, having dabbled in it from as early as 2014. It reinforces Keef’s pioneer status, always willing to start trends and play with the trap sound.

With 4NEM, Chief Keef injects life back into trap music, showing that there’s no blueprint for Chief Keef to follow. He does what he wants and it works a charm.

8 / 10

Best tracks: “Yes Sir”, “Hadouken”, “Tuxedo”, “Bitch Where”, “Say I Ain’t Pick Yo Weak Ass Up”, “On What”