More Shit Chief Keef Don't Like

Poet-educator Kevin Coval dissects the controversy surrounding young Chicago rapper Cheef Keef. As he writes in his Preface

Every institution in Chicago fails Black youth. Segregated and systematically inequitable, Chicago is a town where white kids exist in an increasingly idyllic new urban utopia, and Black and Latino kids weave and dodge through a war zone. The largest specter in the spectacle and circus that surrounds the city, Chief Keef has become its poster boy and scapegoat. He is a young man who looks and sounds like thousands of young people in Chicago—reared in a culture of nihilism, death, and capitalism. He is a young man who sings the demented measures and results of white supremacy, the legacy and maintenance of grand inequity. Chief Keef sings a tortured and tormented Chicago song. It is a song we need to listen to carefully.

Read an excerpt, "Hipster Blogs Wave Their True Colors" on Ruby Hornet.

About the author

KEVIN COVAL is the author of numerous poetry collections and chapbooks, including the American Library Association Book-of-the-Year finalist Slingshots: A Hip-Hop Poetica and most recently, L-vis Lives! Racemusic Poems, described as a “stunning, and very personal, piece of literary work that should be required reading in every high school in America” by Impose magazine.

In his early twenties, Coval founded “Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival,” now one of the largest youth gatherings on the planet, recently the subject of an award-winning documentary of the same name. Coval currently serves as Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, the non-profit home of Louder Than a Bomb, and numerous other youth writing and hip hop programs. He is a native of Chicago and teaches at the School of the Art Institute and is a frequent contributor to WBEZ: Chicago Public Radio. His next work is Schtick: Jewish Assimilation and Its Discontents, forthcoming from Haymarket Books in April 2013. Coval can be reached at New poems and event notices can be found at and


Hear Kevin discuss the book on Windy City Underground


“One of my favorite poets.”
—Mos Def

"Kevin Coval is a new, glowing voice in the world of literature."
—Studs Terkel

"A prophet…a tour-de-force…he can soothe and scathe, hurt and heal, in the course of a single poem."
—Providence Journal

"Coval echoes Ginsberg in his spiritual revolt and longing for multicultural transcendance. Funny and empathic…his well-stocked poems contain earth and spirit, body and soul."

"Coval’s greatest strength is his rhythmic, beautiful prose and his willingness to speak truth to power, no matter what the personal cost."

"A concious Jewish phenomenon…[Coval’s] work speaks to the Jewish relationship to the American color line."
—Jew School