The Persecution of Rapper Chief Keef

August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Friday, July 24, in a move duplicating the police raids against performances in the late 1980s/early 1990s by iconic rappers NWA, police in Hammond, Indiana literally pulled the plug on a hologram appearance by Chief Keef. To repeat that: a hologram performance. Keef was not even present, but his image was being projected. “We turned the power off, we’re closing the park down,” proclaimed a spokesperson for the Hammond police.

Chief Keef is a Chicago rapper who has made his name in the business with songs that glorify the “thug life” on the mean streets of Chicago’s Black ghettos.

But there is more at stake here than Keef’s odes to money and gangsterism. It may appear that Chief Keef is merely the rapper the authorities “love to hate.” Yet the real question here is why authorities are using the power of their repressive state to prevent artists from performing.

The Hammond shutdown of Keef was not the first, but the second of in fact three blatant acts of censorship by authorities against his performances that were supposed to be benefit appearances, all via a hologram projection. (The reason Keef did not plan to perform live and in person is that he is facing an arrest warrant in Illinois for alleged failure to pay child support.)

Baby Dill memorial. Photo

In another story here on, there is a report on the funeral for “Baby Dill” (Dillian Harris), the Chicago toddler who was killed by a speeding car, allegedly driven by someone who was fleeing the shooting of one of Keef’s rap associates. (See “Standing Up to the System at the Vigil for Baby Dill”)

In July, Keef announced that he would hold a hologram performance to benefit the family of Dillian Harris and to spread a message against violence among the youth. This was to be held at Chicago’s Redmoon Theater with proceeds and a matching amount from Keef’s recording enterprises going to the family and to charities doing anti-violence work. He has also started a foundation called “Stop the Violence Now.”

However, the event was soon canceled because of the intervention of Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel’s office called the Redmoon Theater to demand the cancellation, saying “Keef is an unacceptable role model” and the planned performance “promotes violence.” This from the mayor whose “role modeling” includes defending a police department that regularly kills unarmed youth and that has a proven record of torture and brutality, and closing Chicago schools and libraries in massive numbers.

And unfortunately, Father Michael Pfleger, a clergyman who is active in organizing anti-violence campaigns on Chicago’s South Side, participated in the repressive moves against Keef. Pfleger called Keef a “hypocrite” for trying to hold an anti-violence benefit while still glorifying violence in his music and told him to “shut up.” This added to the atmosphere that encourages further repression by the same system that sets up the economic and social conditions in which Black youth are turned against each other.

The third occurrence of censorship against Keef came after the Hammond incident, when the Chicago Theater, a major downtown venue that is owned by the Madison Square Garden conglomerate, also refused to allow the hologram projection.

These events drive home even more deeply the need for people to take to the streets in massive numbers in New York on October 24 in the Rise Up October events to demand “Police Terror Must Stop Now!” Building for Rise Up October now is crucial in drawing forward all those who want to project across all of society a positive message of righteous political resistance.


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