Saturday night was a first for hip-hop: Police shut down a rapper’s hologram performance.
Chicago MC Chief Keef was set to perform via a hologram projected from Los Angeles at a concert at Hammond, Indiana’s Wolf Lake Pavilion. Keef's appearance at the concert, called Craze Fest, was intended to raise money for the family of Dillan Harris, the 13-month-old baby struck and killed by a driver fleeing the scene of the shooting death of Keef’s associate, Melvin “Capo” Carr, earlier this month in Chicago.
Keef's hologram was originally scheduled to appear in Chicago, until the city’s authorities pressured the event into relocating to Hammond, according to the Chicago Tribune. Craze Fest organizers had previously assured Hammond police that Keef’s hologram would not be performing at the event, but it happened anyway. The hologram Keef finished all of one song, his signature hit “I Don’t Like,” before police shut it down.
The most vocally upset with the cancellation has been Greek billionaire and hologram innovator Alki David, who signed Chief Keef to a distribution deal earlier this summer and provided the technology for the hologram concert. Speaking with L.A. Weekly from Greece, David shared his thoughts on the cancellation and revealed additional plans for upcoming Keef releases and other promotions.
In your words, what happened Saturday night?
What happened was the municipal leaders of Hammond and Chicago think that they can dictate what young people or hip-hop lovers should be listening to. They blame the death of little Dillan Harris on Chief Keef’s music. They blame all of the ills of those cities on Chief Keef and people like Chief Keef. I mean, Chief Keef is 19 years old. Violence has been going on in Chicago for decades now. It’s ridiculous. It’s Orwellian. It’s thought police. What I find fascinating is that the family of Dillan Harris is suing the city [of Chicago] for negligence for driving high-speed chases though residential areas that ultimately ended up in the death of an innocent child.
Keef asked me to pay for Capo’s funeral, which I did. Then he even asked me to pay for Dillan Harris’ funeral, which I did as well, because he felt angry. Don’t misconstrue it as him feeling guilty. Him as a human being is evolving. He came out of nothing and created something magical.
How did you first link up with Keef?
We met through a couple of guys who introduced me to one of his managers. He was looking for a distribution deal, and I bought into the MondoTunes business, which is the third largest self-publishing business behind TuneCore and CD Baby. We were talking about a distribution deal and I reached out to a friend at Sony who was trying to sign him at the same time. I made them a not-too-generous offer, but one that made the most sense for them to get their records out and own a majority of the revenue. He’s also a spokesman for my hologram business and FilmON and for MondoTunes. And we’re very similar people in a funny sort of way. I think out-there, independent thinkers is a good description.
You have a hip-hop past with your breakdancing in the early '80s through producing the Ether rap battle pay-per-view last year. What is it about the hip-hop community that draws you to it?
I have no idea. It’s drawn to me, not the other way around. I really have no idea. I’m working on a show now with Lil Wayne, a holographic play called The Literary Genius of Lil Wayne that’s coming out in November. I have no idea. I’ve got rapper friends, Flo Rida’s a good friend of mine. I didn’t decide “I want to get involved in the hip-hop world,” it’s just gravitated that way.
What projects do you have with Keef coming out?
We have Bang 3, a full album, coming out Aug. 18. We’ve got a two-album deal together, and then options for more. We’ll definitely nail [a hologram] concert in Chicago, maybe one in [Chicago mayor] Rahm Emanuel’s home. We’re going to do a big one in L.A. and soon. I’d like to do it in November probably. A big, fuck-off hologram show in multiple locations.
The biggest controversy with Keef seems to be over whether he’s raising awareness of the struggles he’s come from in Chicago, or exploiting them. Since you’re partnering up with him, where do you see the line between helping him get his message out versus exploitation?
That’s an interesting question. Getting the message out, there has to be an element of exploitation in it, it has to be marketable. But it has to be a question of taste and principle.
You can see how he’s evolved with social media, which is very important to him. He has a very substantial following. I was told by my mate at Sony that he is “the only act of his entire generation that has made money.” I don’t think we really have to exploit something that just seems to come naturally. He’s going to sell records because people like his sound. He’s a style icon of his own kind. He’s the favorite of his generation of hip-hop acts in probably the world. We don’t have to exploit anything, we can just let him do his thing. I can suggest sounds or directions, and he can immediately decide yes or no.