I’ve observed Kevin Gates’ rise, fall and re-emergence into the man whose “I Don’t Get Tired” motto eventually became a theme for aspirational millennials ignoring fatigue brought by various grinds. Forget the recommended eight – ten hour sleep regimen, those six jobs are first priority. Then again, anyone familiar with Gate’s rise understands that mentality. His early beginnings under Baton Rouge collective Dead Game Records resulted in some pretty local classics like personal favorites “Head 2 My Toes” and “Grinder.” Hell, I still remember his cool cameo in the video treatment for one very serious guilty pleasure of mine, Jimi Jump’s “Too Pieces.” Looking back, it’s quite incredible when one realizes how many struggle rappers he outlasted within Baton Rouge’s post-Boosie (a then close collaborator) explosion. That final stint in prison led to a psychology degree and emo-thug reinvention.
By the time 2013 rolls around, he’s distanced himself from Dead Game, found a close association with YMCMB, created his own Bread Winners Association imprint and inked a deal with Atlantic Records. Then came those guest verses including his assist on Pusha T’s “Trust You” and his breakout Luca Brasi Story mixtape. Mr. Kevin Jerome Gilyard had a knack for painting incredibly vivid gangsta rap pictures fitted with small lyrically vulnerable details. Of course, his actual delivery was clearly post-Drake along with an unhinged baritone; almost reflecting a serious level of insanity. It was a formula that worked well on projects ranging from Stranger Than Fiction to the Gangsta Grillz hosted Luca Brasi 2 which featured his biggest single to date “I Don’t Get Tired” featuring August Alsina. Add his place on XXL’s coveted Freshmen List with Chance The Rapper, Ty Dolla $ign, Jon Connor and Vic Mensa, 2014 should have been his breakout year. Most of his times in front of the camera involved a real street intellect that many consider life lessons let social media say anything. The way he articulating his life was fascinating.
Unfortunately, Gate’s social media presence and a few interviews turned him into a character who overshadowed his then constantly evolving music. Any true follow-up feels similar to all gas with no fire. Gates’ shenanigans were amusing at first. He handled interviews regarding his affinity for eating booty with slick wit and morbid understanding. Matter of fact, videos like these pre-date Jhene Aiko’s best line of 2015:
There was a mixture of him being equally honest and in on the joke at the same time. Problem is, it opened the floodgates for moments that were just unnecessarily sickening. Gate’s Instagram page became a problem. Having sexual relations with one’s cousin without knowing is one thing. These things just happen sometimes. Openly admitting to still participate in acts is disturbing.
Later on within the year’s time, he would engage in cold war beefs with Game and Young Thug. Thankfully, both were squashed before things got too heated. If the situation with his cousin wasn’t crazy enough, things later turned from bad to worse this year.
Yup, he made the news again this year for non-music related issues. The problem is that in the case of allegedly kicking a woman out of his crib for not performing oral sex on his dog, the bizarre lines between trolling and truth became too blurred. Devil worshipping beads anyone? Gates really started to show his subversive dislike of females when footage of him fighting two women in a Flint, Michigan club emerged. And, here we are today ladies and gentleman. Last weekend, Gates is caught kicking a concert goer Charlie Murphy style in the chest for allegedly grabbing his junk in Florida. The end result: a simple battery charge. How does he respond? A half-assed track that serves absolutely nothing. With everything going on around him, most have totally forgotten his above average Murder For Hire mixtape that dropped in May. This is a telling sign of his musical relevance. Hopefully, Gates can pull it together before his career joins the dark abyss of internet buzz.