South Side rapper Chief Keef is often shown on the Internet sporting a stylish bubble vest and gold wristwatch, pictured next to fancy cars or smoking a joint, a testament to his up-and-coming prowess in the hip-hop world.
But on Thursday, the teenage rap sensation was outfitted in a jail uniform — navy blue sweatshirt and sweatpants — as he made an impassioned plea to a Cook County judge that he be released from a juvenile detention center for violating his probation sentence for a gun conviction.
“I’m sorry for all the wrong I have done,” the choked-up 17-year-old told a judge as his lawyer patted him on the back. “I just want you to know I can do (better).”
Despite the emotional plea, Judge Carl Anthony Walker sentenced Chief Keef to 60 days in a juvenile lockup for violating his 18-month probation by firing a rifle at a New York gun range last summer during an on-camera promotion for his music.
The rapper, whose real name is Keith Cozart, read aloud from notes on a crumpled piece of paper as he told Walker he was on the verge of completing his GED and was the father of two young daughters. His mother, who was present in the courtroom with a few other relatives, let out a loud cry as her son spoke.
Chief Keef was taken into custody Tuesday after the judge ruled his actions at the gun range violated his probation. He was prohibited from any contact with guns while on probation.
At Thursday’s hearing, Chief Keef sat hunched over at times while Assistant State’s Attorney Jullian Brevard reminded the judge about two previous drug arrests on the rapper’s record before his gun conviction for pointing a weapon at a Chicago police officer. The prosecutor also noted how some of the lyrics in the rapper’s song “Love Sosa” refer to his gun conviction as well as to gangs and drugs.
“He’s been given ample opportunities to stop this behavior,” Brevard said.
Chief Keef’s lawyer, Dennis Berkson, acknowledged to the court that the video wasn’t a smart decision on his client’s part, but Berkson reiterated that the video was just an interview.
He also argued that the explicit content in his client’s lyrics doesn’t reflect that the rapper himself is a criminal.
“People say whatever they want in a song. I’m sure that the Beatles said really goofy things in songs,” Berkson said. “It doesn’t mean they were out there to commit a crime.”
Chief Keef’s legal problems garnered national attention last fall when Chicago police began to look into whether a war of words between his rap allies and aspiring rapper Lil Jojo led to the 18-year-old’s shooting death in the Englewood neighborhood. Hours after the slaying, Chief Keef sent a taunting tweet about the death. Chief Keef received mostly negative feedback from his more than 200,000 Twitter followers before he claimed his account had been hacked.
Neither Chief Keef nor his rap allies have been charged with any wrongdoing in the slaying.
The rapper’s family said little to reporters after Thursday’s hearing. But his mother, who didn’t want to be identified, said her son’s rap lyrics merely represent the type of environment he grew up in.
“He’s just rapping about what he lived next to,” she said.