We’ve seen Kevin Gates rise (and grind) since the early part of the decade. The Louisiana native has, it often seems, been through every adversity imaginable and yet, still, his timer is set: He should be ready to blow.
After rumors swirled that Gates signed to YMCMB, and then dropping multiple critically-acclaimed projects in 2013, the rap world is now quite familiar with the man who has vowed to make it By Any Means. So, let’s take a listen at the best moments from Kevin Gates’ debut.—Majid Tejan-Jalloh
“Wish I Had It” (Verse 1)
Out the streets, stay in the streets all I can do is be me/
With Flo Rida, nothing in Common, I’m not a B.o.B
Out the gate, Gates lets you know he isn’t searching for play in bottle-service clubs or pop radio. By comparing himself to guys like B.o.B. and Flo Rida, Gates draws a line between them and himself and stands opposite, as he vows to give you only that real.
America’s Next Top Model?/
Right here in my condo?/
I don’t even know her name?/
I just asked her for a condom
#RIPDoeB. Alabama-born rapper Doe B. was killed earlier this year while performing in his hometown. We can only imagine what type of noise he would be making if he were still here with bars like these.
“Can’t Make This Up” (Verse 1)
Product of a violent environment, saw niggas go get money I had to go try it/
My grandma’s a crying, her grandson a liar, like all of this shit gotta stop
It always starts like this. Young men growing up in tough neighborhoods see the money, cars, and clothes and turn illegal in pursuit of fast cash. This, in turn, leads to a life of destruction for the families involved.
“Can’t Make This Up” (Verse 2)
Occupied by the hand player, Caucasian waitress named Rachael/
Saying I look like a drug dealer, you ain’t even waiting our table…
Gates’ attire, swagger, and speech have caught the eye of a stereotyping waitress. Luckily, she wasn’t waiting on them. Gates’ tone when delivering the line was spoken as if he was resigned to the label being placed on him.
I swear to God I miss my nigga just full of hate (I do)/
Bullet in the chamber, pull up and go BANG!/
Doin’ it for his kids the ones that Shud don’t look after/
Watching the news in a foster home, they father was massacred
Retaliation is a must. One of Kevin’s closest friends lost his life due to the violence that comes along with a street-oriented lifestyle, leaving his children fatherless. In turn, Gates’ has vowed to avenge the murder and put on through music for his slain friend’s children.
At home birth, this a first Dricka having my daughter/
Watching on a iPhone, thought that it was a boy/
Thinking I gotta get home, catch a flight to New Orleans/
Gotta pick up my car, I gotta drive to Atlanta/
Kevin brings us into the birth scene of his first child. His baby mother called him and he watched his child born in home via an iPhone FaceTime call. I don’t think it gets any wilder than that?
“Movie” (Verse 2)
Already missed a birth of one, maxi plate when he do/
Back in Baton Rouge, for a video shoot/
Phee and Didra blowing up my phone, prolly all day long/
I got to much going on (I’m right down the street)/
Everything going wrong, in the back of my mind like what the fuck do they want, from me/
Another birth, another scramble. Gates’ second born was being delivered while he was shooting a video. He rushed to the scene when he got the call because he missed the first one. With all of the stress on his mind, he didn’t know if he was going to be able to deal.
Dinner and a movie who the fuck am I/
That activity might fly with another type/
Gates’ just isn’t that nice guy you’re looking for ladies. Be prepared to go all the way or don’t go at all.
Loved in the hood but I’m hated in the court/
When the ball hit the rim that’s a miss/
Come to think about it, wait, that’s a brick/
Three hundred eight balls coming, no assist
Kevin gives us a little bit of everything here. He’s got the realism that he’s known for, stories for the trappers, and a little bit of wordplay with this “Ball hit rim/Bricks” line. Tough.
Ain’t been asleep in 3 days/
My nickname should be Stay Up/
Fuck the club and the mall, right now I’m stacking my cake up/
Fuck you hoes I could jack off, I don’t play break up to make up/
You other niggas had your turn, you play your face then get ate up/
Kevin Gates is the street hustler. He’s not going to exaggerate the lifestyle to make it seem like it’s an effortless means to an end. He loses sleep, he avoids unnecessary expenditures, throws a middle finger to his enemies, and turns down the hoes.
Trying to be something you not, I say I got, you say you got/
I say I’m not, you say you tried it, if it happen to me then it happened to you/
Or someone you know, or someone you fuck with/
A lot shit be counterfeit, you no longer someone I fuck with../
Don’t you just hate a liar?
*Kevin encounters those who talk to talk*
Kevin Gates: I just got out of jail.
Liar: I know someone who just got out of jail too, he was wild, man,
Kevin Gates: Oh really? Well, as soon as I got out I got myself a Ferrari.
Liar: Word, when my homie got out of jail, I copped one for him and me…
Kevin Gates: Oh, really? Where it’s at? Mine right there.
Liar: It’s in the sh—
Kevin Gates: *walking away*
Okay, three months behind on rent but my P.O., I payed em’/
Just thought I’d warn you, when I’m broke I turn into a gangsta/
When the chips are down some fold, others get a gun and go apeshit. Gates plays the latter.
“Just Want Some Money” (Verse 1)
Two kids a week apart, and on the way another baby/
My hoes pretend they love me/
All my baby mamas hate me/
Instances of Gates delivering harsh truths about his love life are scattered throughout By Any Means. Here, he tells us that the women who have reared his children actually hate him, but pretend they love him for a check.
“Just Want Some Money” (Verse 2)
I know everybody I owe, I owe everybody I know/
Then that same nigga I told, went told everybody I know (Damn)/
Dr-dr-dressing bummy, catching rides, it got disgusting/
Passenger side in public, women, won’t give up they number/
When Gates was down on his luck he couldn’t bend foil paper. The ones he trusted betrayed him, the women wouldn’t look his way, and he was raggedy. Look at him now.
Talked about when I’m not looking (Like Stevie Wonder)/
Played with keys while making music (Like Stevie Wonder)/
Smiling bright throughout my struggle (Like Stevie Wonder)/
Rich as shit but can’t see nothin’ (I’m just like Stevie Wonder)/
Gates makes several comparisons to the legendary Stevie Wonder, from being down and treated like a second class citizen, to coming up through trapping and rapping, to stardom; Kevin Gates knew he was going to make it By Any Means necessary.
Verdict: Kevin Gates has been consistent since his Luca Brasy Story project in 2013. He’s made some new friends and lost some old ones along the way leading up to By Any Means. The album has it’s moments, but it doesn’t necessarily take off at any point like we’ve seen on previous projects (Check “Tiger” from Stranger Than Fiction). Still, we hsve a solid body of work.