Listening to — or at least attempting to listen to — “Go to Jail,” I can’t help but find my thoughts circling back to Rowan Savage’s review of Farrah Abraham’s disasterpiece, My Teenage Dream Ended. In that write-up, Savage challenged us to get off our high horses and peer down into Abraham’s hurricane of diapers and despair, and see it for what it really was: “a reflection and magnification of the typical issues of the teen Self,” percolated through pure, unadulterated suffering. That the album, to quote Savage, “now encompasses the world, magnified — and in that magnification, reveals the seams” doesn’t make the album any easier to handle — I swear I can feel my neurons sizzling when I listen to this thing — but it certainly lends it credence. After all, to put it in the terms of my middle-school journal: the world is an ugly place.
Like Ms. Abraham’s magnum opus, “Go To Jail” is painful to listen to. Auto-Tune-drenched and more indecipherable than the hieroglyphics from Lost, Keef’s lean-addled mumbles appear incapable of staying in time with the song’s bare-bones trap beat. He’s had no problem spitting over these types of beats for the past two years, but now, it seems that the Chicago rapper would rather let loose pitch-shifting wails and rhythmic grunts. And yet, terrible as the track may be on a superficial level, it’s still writhing with the same level of anguish that made MTDE such an unexpected stroke of genius. Just as Abraham used her franken-pop as a spastic sounding board by which to process the stresses of love, loss, and unplanned parenthood, Keef has constructed “Go To Jail” as a puzzling bit of stream-of-consciousness therapy. After spending 60 days in prison, the 17-year old is clinging to his freedom more stringently than ever, even if it means giving up on the thuggery of his earlier days: “Don’t touch my pistol/ Cuz I don’t wanna have to blow/ Cuz I don’t wanna have to go to jail.” Of course, with a canvas this muddled, the interpretations are endless: thug poseur critique, post-rap experiment, paranoid rant, or maybe just a sub-par rap song. But I’ll leave the sentencing to you.
• Chief Keef: http://www.chiefkeef.com
• 1017 Brick Squad: https://www.facebook.com/pages/1017-Brick-Squad/110722132272401