Drill pioneer Chief Keef is scheduled to make his return to the Chicagoland area on June 16 as the Sunday headliner for the three-day 2024 Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash, a music festival taking place from June 14-16 at SeatGeek Stadium in southwest suburban Bridgeview. 

Summer Smash will mark Chief Keef’s first time performing in Illinois since 2012.

Fest goers who want to see Keef must be willing to attend all three days of Summer Smash — or, at least, spend the money for the three-day pass. 

On the Summer Smash website, tickets start at $385 for the three-day pass. From the looks of the ticket site, the festival doesn’t appear to be offering single-day passes. The TRiiBE reached out to Lyrical Lemonade for comment, but hadn’t received a response prior to publishing time.

Other acts included in this year’s Summer Smash lineup are Cactus Jack (a collective of artists including Travis Scott, Don Toliver and Sheck Wes), Playboi Carti, Big Sean, Lil Yachty, Famous Dex, Mick Jenkins, Flo Milli and more.

Keef’s status in the pantheon of today’s rap giants has been solidified, with many rising and chart-topping artists citing his sound as a direct influence on their careers. Summer Smash could mark a new beginning for Keef that, hopefully, opens the door for him to perform in Chicago again soon. 

Back in April 2012, Keef opened for rapper Meek Mill at the Congress Theater in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. The lineup for that show also included local stars Bo Deal, Twista, L.E.P Bogus Boys, and another drill giant, King Louie.

When a fight broke out in the main lobby, according to an article written by Fake Shore Drive the police took over the entrances, stopping fans and the artists scheduled to perform from entering the venue. 

Despite Keef reportedly having nothing to do with the incident, and still performing on stage that night, the stigma of violence at rap shows in Chicago — particularly, those with drill artists in the lineup —  have continued to follow his career. 

With catchy lyrics that told the story of the under-resourced Parkway Garden Homes he grew up in on the South Side, which was plagued by gang violence, and the guerilla-style music videos showing guns and street life, Keef became the face of the drill movement with songs like “I Don’t Like,” “Love Sosa,” and “Hate Bein’ Sober.”

“If you want to blame somebody for all the guns in the videos, or the poverty, you’ve gotta get on the government’s ass. I still deal with people who say, ‘Oh. You misrepresent Chicago.’ [Artists] are a product of their environment, and they’re just openly and expressively showing you,” Chicago-born music videographer Azeez Alaka, of Laka Films, told The TRiiBE in a 2018 interview. “It may be influencing other kids, but without that music video, they’re [still] going to be influenced because of their neighborhoods. I saw my first gun when I was 12. This should be a wake-up call to the government to do some shit for our communities – not to look at us and say, ‘Oh. They’re savages.’” 

City officials carried a disdain for Keef. One of the most notable ones was former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served two terms in office from 2011 to 2019, adjacent to Keef’s rise to superstardom. 

In July 2015, according to Billboard, police shut down a surprise hologram image of Chief Keef that was projected onto the stage as the headliner of Craze Fest, a daylong hip-hop festival at Wolf Lake Pavilion in Hammond, Indiana. According to USA Today, Keef had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, stemming from a child support case. 

At the time, Hammond’s mayor said he knew nothing about Keef other than “he has a lot of songs about gangs and shooting people — a history that’s anti-cop, pro-gang and pro-drug use. He’s been basically outlawed in Chicago, and we’re not going to let you circumvent Mayor Emanuel by going next door.”

Earlier that month, according to the New York Times, a Chicago theater denied a similar hologram Keef show after Emanuel’s mayor’s office stated that the rapper is “an unaccepted role model” whose music “promotes violence” and “posed a significant public safety risk.”

Since then, Keef, who is now 28 years old, hasn’t stepped foot on a stage inside Chicago’s city limits. He reportedly moved to California and has since risen in superstar status. Keef’s inability to share his success with the city that made him remains a dark cloud over Chicago’s recent music history.

is a culture correspondent with The TRiiBE.