Review Summary: There's a difference between repetition and ear sodomy. This is ear sodomy.
When it comes to the poppy side of hip-hop, there's usually no mistaking how it will sound or appeal to the general public; light synthesized beats, a tendency to stick to the verse/chorus/refrain song structure, and a bevy of other popular rappers and singers to guest on a record. Seems simple, right? Well, Chicago newcomer Chief Keef seems to think so, as his debut album Finally Rich gets that formula down just right... and simultaneously falls flat on its face. Believe me, I like hip-hop as much as the next guy (hell, even poppier hip-hop, as Eminem's Recovery had proven), but listening to the same structure for 12 tracks straight get exceptionally tedious. While other hip-hop artists might use different styles or rapping techniques to keep their records fresh, Finally Rich manages to get a grand total of three tones in its arsenal: cocky, "misunderstood," and partying. These lyrical themes are mixed in with some of the most unengaging and even grating bread-and-butter hip-hop music of this year.
A number of the problems with the record come right back to the rapper himself. While his flow is decent, his style isn't all that interesting; we've heard this type of guy before on any other hip-hop release, usually with more distinctive rapping. In addition, the production is really cheap and plastic, further damaging any chance he might have to distinguish himself from the crowd. The music, on the other hand, is an absolute joke. The beats are simplistic beyond belief, and while minimalism can work well in hip-hop records, this is no Nas or DJ Premier; it's all bottom-of-the-barrel artificial trash. The echoed and repeated vocal lines don't help either, especially when those vocal lines usually happen to be extremely immature profanity-laced statements such as "F*ck, nigga, that's the sh*t I don't like" from "I Don't Like." The xylophone-sounding synths in the aforementioned song only add to the mix of both hilarity and annoyance, while the slow groove behind it just plods on and on without any real discipline.
The other songs follow in the same vein, with "Laughin' to the Bank" possibly being the worst. The sample of laughter is absolutely atrocious, and will leave you eager to stab yourself with a pitchfork; the beats surrounding the laughter are akin to Soundcloud dubstep samples and manage not to impress in the slightest. The main laughter sample sounds just as robotic as the glossy production values, and Keef's rapping is still very bland and uninteresting. It's odd to note that "Hate Bein' Sober," featuring 50 Cent and Wiz Khalifa of all people, is actually one of the only highlights in this mess. The C-minor synth kicking off the song is very fun and breezy, while the beats are tastefully done; 50 Cent finally makes a guest appearance to root for with fluid rapping and decent lyricism, while the song shows more overall restraint for Keef.
As you could probably imagine, however, a few decent moments here and there really aren't enough to save a 12-track album. Despite its few shining moments, Finally Rich doesn't have anything to show that's new or different. It simply sounds like any other mainstream hip-hop record, but with moments so grating that it sounds as though they were schematic on Keef's part. Honestly, just pass on this one.