Chief Keef and my son: a tale of two 18 year olds

Chief Keef and my son: a tale of two 18 year olds

Chief Keef, infamous Chicago rapper, has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently.  Within the past two months alone, he has completed a court ordered rehab stay, been arrested for DUI, was present during a shooting at his manager’s house and went to court for owing months of rent on his Highland Park house.  He dropped out of school and fathered a daughter, both years ago.  He started his music career while on house arrest by making rap videos and posting them online.

On the flip side, he has a record deal with Interscope that is reportedly worth $6 million, he has collaborated with the likes of Kanye West, Rick Ross and 50 Cent, and he pulled himself out of crime ravaged Englewood and into the luxury of the North Shore.  On his website he is described as “intensely reserved.”

Did I mention that he’s 18?

I know a little something about 18 year old boys since I live with one.  My example is probably more in the middle of the spectrum than the extremes that Chief Keef presents.  My son still lives in his parents’ house, resides in the western suburbs, plays on his high school volleyball team, is headed to college next year and was excited to get a $25 tax refund.  His only house arrest was imposed by his parents.  And I can objectively say that he is a really nice, funny kid.

When I started pondering the difference between Chief Keef and my son, it seems that they may as well have come from different planets.  However, I have noted two things about 18 year old boys that seem to be largely true (obviously there are exceptions): they’re not afraid of getting hurt and they’re not afraid of getting in trouble.  This often seems to lead to questionable decision making.

For parents of a kid like mine and probably thousands of others in his exact same situation, this means trying to find a balance between keeping him locked up at home and giving him enough freedom for him to enjoy his senior year of high school.  And in August, I’ll tentatively see him off to school with a million warnings.

It doesn’t surprise me at all that Chief Keef has gotten into as much trouble as he has.  If an 18 year old has millions of dollars and no one ever tells him ‘no’, hijinks will undoubtedly ensue (see also: Justin Bieber).


There are thousands of suburban 18 year old boys who are more or less on the exact same path my son is right now.  They are headed off to college hoping to choose a major and obtain a degree that will lead to a job that will provide both money and happiness.  Their freedom is coming a little at a time, as are their successes.

Likewise, Chief Keef followed a path not dissimilar to many others from his beleaguered area of the city: high school dropout, teen dad, lengthy arrest record.  Yet he did distinguish himself and by some measures of success (money? fame?) has done pretty well, no matter what his age.

So who is doing better?  The 18 year old with the millions of dollars and worldwide recognition but the countless arrests?  Or the one who has stayed out of trouble but is on a much more “average” and modest path?

Maybe the answer is yet to be seen.  18 is usually just the beginning.  Chief Keef may have a huge jump on most kids (yes, kids) his age.  Here’s hoping his 18-ness doesn’t cost him the opportunity he has before him.

Now excuse me while I sit here and worry until my son gets home safely.

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