As Fake Shore Drive has pointed out, a couple weeks ago Chief Keef announced he’d retired in a series of tweets. He explained that too many rappers “sound jus like me or saying shit like almighty would.” He’s got a point, at least as far new MCs are concerned. When Keef broke out in 2012, his take on the emerging drill sound—claustrophobic, apocalyptic, larger than life—became a blueprint almost immediately, though the mimics always missed something crucial. Usually it was Keef’s unpredictable rapping, if you want to call it “rapping”—plenty of folks would rather not. Few could pull off the seesawing, mush-mouthed flow that’s made his music feel alive.
That’s beginning to change, though. Several emerging young rappers have borrowed Keef’s burbling vowels and blurred consonants, and the more interesting among them have arrived at their own molten sounds by veering away from the pack. Chief among them is Lil Yachty, an Atlanta MC who’s rapped over the theme for Nickelodeon’s Rugrats and was among the models for Kanye’s Yeezy Season 3 line at the premiere of The Life of Pablo at Madison Square Garden last month. Local rapper Famous Dex also has an intuitive grasp of what makes Keef’s style work, and he combines it with elements that sound indebted to Atlanta oddballs and contrarian Internet-famous MCs such as Young Thug and Makonnen, plus a bit of Odd Future flair. Not at all by coincidence, Yachty makes a guest appearance Dex’s new mixtape, OhhMannGoddDamm.
The past few months have been particularly rewarding for Dex. In October, Soulja Boy posted a video that included Dex’s “Swagg,” which appears on Dex’s recent Dexter’s Laboratory. The mixtape opens with “2 Times,” an underground hit that’s made its way onto local radio station Power 92. After Dex dropped his Drippy mixtape at the end of January, he and Chance the Rapper recorded some material that’s yet to be released. And earlier this month, a little less than a week before OhhMannGoddDamm came out, Rich the Kid announced he’d signed Dex to his brand-new label, Rich Forever Music.