In October of last year, Keef confirmed that he had parted ways with Interscope, and didn't seem at all disappointed by it. On the contrary, his tweets following the announcement sounded relieved and optimistic, citing his financial independence and ability to release projects on his own terms as reasons for his lack of dismay. It was also around this time when he began dropping tracks that he had produced himself. Much stranger than the Young Chop beats he's most closely associated with, Keef's beats definitely wouldn't have flown on a major label release, so it's fitting that his self-production days began just around the time of his independence. One of the most intriguing of these was "Dear," a track that sounded just as influenced by Spaghetti Western soundtracks as it was by Zaytoven -- check it out below.
Within weeks, we got the long-awaited sequel to 2012's Back From The Dead, which ended up being almost entirely produced by Sosa On The Beat himself. Left to his own devices, Keef's music got less violent, trippier, and more experimental. Still "drill" by association, the songs largely lacked the booming beats associated with that genre, instead favoring barely-there drums and all-consuming melodic atmospheres. When he did fall back into "get whacked with this click-clack" territory, he did it with hooks as goofy as "Where's Waldo" and "I smoke kush like I grow it on a farm." BFTD2 wasn't for everyone, but it saw Keef carving out a personal lane unconcerned with mass appeal and his public image, as well as giving his cult fans a unique full body of work to sink their teeth into.
Nobody was soon to follow, and with it came the Kanye West-assisted title track that had been buzzing on the internet for months. This song was possibly even more shocking than the entirety of the preceding tape, as most people never expected to hear Sosa rapping over a Willie Hutch sample. Although the rest of the production on the album was largely handled by 12Million, and was a little more conventional than Keef's own geeked up beats, it was still less aggressive and more blunted than his pre-2014 music.
The latest chapter in Keef's saga came yesterday, when his Lil Wayne-spoofing Sorry 4 The Weight tape impacted. Opening the tape sounding like Travi$ Scott on "WWYD," Keef chose to go with in-house production from Glo Gang's GGP, DPGGP and Chopsquaddj, whose beats generally fall somewhere in between Keef's own production work and 12Million's more trappy fare. What with with Milonakis' appearance on "Hot Shit," Keef spending half of "Himalayas" telling us the various letters that he puts in words (as in "Bitch I put the C in Cyprus"), and the line "I'm a curry-eating motherfucker," this mixtape is weird as hell. Unlike the scattered mess of Bang Pt. 2 and Almighty So, though, S4TW is intriguing, charismatic and, most importantly, downright fun at times. Keef still has his fair share of haters, but he genuinely seems like he's making an effort to further his career and cover new artistic ground. Just listen to his inspiring intro on "Ten Toes Down."
As has always been the case with Sosa's career, we have no clue where he's headed next, but it's looking more promising now than it has since Finally Rich dropped. With complete independence, Keef seems to have found a comfortable and successful rhythm, and with no legal troubles to speak of in the past twelve months, the wild child Keef of years past seems to have matured and gotten his shit together. At this point, it doesn't seem like he'll ever top his 2012 peak of being remixed by Kanye and seeing "Love Sosa" on the radio, but does it even seem like he wants that now? Sure, some sort of collab with Drake may be on the way, but for now, it sounds like he's content with exploring new sounds and honing his craft, feeding a rabid fanbase with music that's always unpredictable.
Let's not forget that Keith Cozart is still only 19, and having seen more success in his late teenage years than most rappers see in their lives, he's got nearly unlimited space to keep growing. Maybe by the time he's legal drinking age, he'll be collaborating with Lady Gaga or Travis Barker, either making pop smashes or burrowing deeper into the world of underground music. One thing's for sure: we'll be eagerly awaiting whatever he does.