Mansion Musick (not to be confused with the 2014 mixtape, Mansion Music) is Chief Keef’s sixth project in nearly as many months. Where last year’s Two Zero One Seven, Thot Breakers and Dedication were all focused in their attempts to showcase Keef’s continued development as an artist, this year’s The GloFiles Pt. 1 & Pt. 2, The Leek Vol. 4 & Vol. 5 and the Tekashi69 response EP, Ottopsy, all feel more off the cuff and inconsequential. And like much of his work in 2018, Mansion Musick is lackluster, despite showing flashes of brilliance.
In 2012, Chief Keef’s major label debut, Finally Rich, fundamentally changed the course of mainstream rap. It was a bewildering mixed bag of rambunctious anthems and subtle ballads, all hinged on a young kid from Chicago’s take on the American Dream. Although Keef’s dozens of projects since have served to solidify him as a godfather of many modern-day trends, these mixtapes, albums and compilations have by and large struggled to replicate the innovative progressiveness of his inaugural album. Without Chief Keef’s prolific teenage years, and his more recent efforts at ushering his artistic expression into newer, brighter periods of creativity, there would be no Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti or Lil Pump; even artists like Future and Young Thug would’ve been forced to tackle their art in a different manner.
It is hard to overstate the 23-year-old’s far-reaching influence. But it’s also hard to gauge what Keef’s goals are at this moment in time. Last year seemed to be a creative awakening of sorts for the relatively dormant artist, but this year’s hard-drive dumps feel like a step backward. Keef sounds more bored than he does inspired on many of these cuts. The DP Beats produced “Rawlings” and “Sky Say” are surprisingly dull on Keef’s part (Tadoe and Ballout are serviceable); “Get This Money” isn’t witty enough to do anything new with the age-old trope; “Part Ways” pales in comparison to the heights achieved by last year’s “Can You Be My Friend”. Even the highly anticipated Playboi Carti collab, “Uh Uh”, while enjoyable in its irreverence, betrays the untapped potential of such a pairing. For the kind of performance Keef turned in on Carti’s last album, Die Lit, he definitely deserved a more catchy hook in return.
Thankfully, nothing is outright terrible – save for “Hand Made,” where even Keef sounds defeated in his effort to drag a flimsy premise across the finish line. Mansion Musick is, for the most part, an inoffensive experience. Essential additions to Keef’s expansive catalog may be few and far between, but piano-driven ballads like “Belieber” and “Letter” are wonderful glimpses into the musical maturity of the “I Don’t Like” rapper. Other highlights come in the form of “TV On (Big Boss),” an all-too-brief dedication to his cousin Fredo, whose tragic death this past January deeply affected the rap community, “Yet”, which does a great job at showcasing Keef’s nimble flows and the self-produced penultimate track, ‘Tragedies.”
In the past six years, Keef has not only refined a wide array of styles, he’s also become a formidable producer. The issue now seems to be with consistently distilling these divergent ideas into projects as potent as his select defining works.