Chief Keef review: Summer Smash crowd sees how rapper has blossomed as a live performer

The sweltering Sunday in Bridgeview was a historic Father’s Day for pioneering drill rapper Chief Keef. In front of over 40,000 people from all over the world at Lyrical Lemonade and SPKRBX’s sixth annual Summer Smash, Sosa and friends delivered an electrifying performance fit for a homecoming king.

For the first time in the Chicago area in nearly 12 years, old and new fans saw the king of drill music — real name Keith Cozart — deliver a firefly medley ranging from his classic street anthems from 2011-2013 to songs from his new album “Almighty So 2.”

Not even tumultuous weather conditions that caused an evacuation earlier in the day could stop the self-proclaimed Almighty from delivering a historic night for Chicago hip hop.

Around 30 minutes after his advertised set time, pulling up in a black Escalade on the ramp backstage, Chief Keef hopped right on stage and was greeted with a king’s welcome from the massive crowd.

In a set list worthy of a local residency in its own right, Sosa wasted no time delivering a gracious blend of the groundbreaking street hits “300,” ”Don’t Like,” “Love Sosa” and “Street Runner” as well as his newer songs from “Almighty So 2″ and 2022’s “4NEM” including “Neph Nem” and “Hadoken.” The way the crowd erupted to his anthemic intro from “4NEM” shows how much his newer music resonates with both his Gen Z and millennial fans.

Once an artist with minimal stage presence, Chief Keef has blossomed as a live performer and the charisma he exuded Sunday was magnetic. He delivered his vocals with power and conviction but still kept each song naturally fun.

As the show progressed, his cousins Tadoe and Ballout with rapper DooWop arrived on stage, adding plenty of aggressive energy to the set.

South Shore’s biggest star G Herbo was an electrifying surprise when he hit the stage as a special guest with Keef. Opening up with his viral “Who Run It” freestyle, Herbo delivered one of the day’s most spirited performances.

One touching moment was at the beginning of the set as Keef’s daughter, Kayden “Kay Kay” Cozart, danced on stage and joined her father on the songs that made him a household name in 2011-2012. Far removed from the menace to society he was portrayed as when he was a teenager, he embodied a full-fledged, fun-loving dad in the best way possible. Doo Wop and G Herbo also brought their sons on stage for a charming Father’s Day performance.

And closing out with the monstrous “Faneto” was the perfect cap on Chief Keef’s explosive show as warm-colored fireworks filled the air.

For the rappers on stage, each of them unwelcome on Chicago stages for a time, it was a historic Father’s Day that encapsulated how they defied the odds and became young legends in their own right.

Underneath that was a beautiful moment highlighting how far they have come as men as their children shared the stage with them and Keef showed the city the artist and dad he evolved to become.

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