Since Kevin Gates’ live performance at the 2014 XXL Freshmen Class concert in the Times Square area of New York City, I’ve followed his every move. At first glance, the New Orleans-native rapper appeared to be a deer in headlights. He was inanimate onstage. He didn’t move around, and before his set was over, he told the audience that he was nervous. Producing shows for aspiring artists many years ago, I understood the validity of what I witnessed but didn’t think I would see it with a label-signed musician at a well-known magazine’s showcase. Hey, I guess that’s why they call them “Freshmen”, right?
At the 2015 SXSW FADER Fort, Kevin Gates was on the bill. It was my second time seeing the (now) 30-year-old perform, and there was progression. He moved around a little more this time, but you could see that he still wasn’t comfortable. Nonetheless, like the year prior, his voice carried, and the music spoke for itself. It always did, and that’s what I enjoy most about Kevin Gates.
Like us, he makes mistakes. Like us, he is emotional, and like 14.8 million American adults, he has experienced depression like most humans, all of which makes him relatable. Starting his career nine years ago in 2007, the success of ‘Islah’ is no surprise. He had plenty of time to go through some things, grow, build a greater fan base, and eventually hone in on his product to achieve greatness. Claiming his debut studio album sold more records than Rihanna’s ‘ANTI’, Kevin Gates’ 17-song album named after his daughter is a collection of songs about his relationships with women, dealing with success, betrayal, and remnants of the grand hustle.
Known for controversial moments like posting a picture of his deceased grandmother online, kicking a girl out of his house because she didn’t want to perform fellatio on his pet dog, and having sex with blood cousin, Gates is far from perfect but freakishly honest. He also addresses the young lady he kicked in the chest for grabbing his penis after warning her on ‘The Truth’. My personal favourite songs are ‘Really Really’, ‘2 Phones’, and ‘Jam’ featuring Trey Songz, Ty Dolla $ign, and Jamie Foxx.
Being in out of prison like many of the guys I grew up with, it feels good to know that a young man my age was able to change his life and make it big. He’s married, has children, and is living out his dream. #IDGT