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Kevin Gates

February 18, 2016

ALEX HEARD 

Atlantic Records

Atlantic Records

Staff Reporter | amh072@latech.edu

 

Kevin Gates is a tough guy from the streets of Baton Rouge.

 

As a “dirty South” rapper, his beats must “bang,” the type of beat to get a person’s head bobbing, and he has got to have a solid hook.

 

His debut album “Islah” is full of singles that have both of those things: “Really Really,” “2 Phonez” and “La Familia.” Another song that has single-potential now that the album has been released  is “Jam,” which features Trey Songz, Ty Dolla $ign and Jamie Foxx.

 

Its highlight is the soulful and extremely catchy hook by Songz, which radiates early-Usher/R. Kelly vibes.

 

Gates can be a tough guy in his songs, but he can be rather raunchy and turn listeners away from his music at times.  Gates’ music is so appealing because he does not hesitate to express his feelings.

 

His poignancy is not portrayed any better in any other mixtape the way it is in “Islah.”

 

Islah portrays both of Gates’ personas. First, a family man.

 

He loves his family and does not care who knows it — as he pours his heart out in songs, much like he does on social media, about his family.

 

In the song “Pride,” he speaks about the struggles he had with his wife Dreka. After their break up and Gates claims he tries to be gangster about it, a true “g” does not fret over a woman.

 

However, he misses her too much and does not care who knows that she is the only woman he needs in his life. He expresses such in the line: “As if it ain’t OK to cry, try to be the tough guy. Think about you all the time, start to feel it backfire. No one love you like I, hope our love ain’t expire.”

 

Gates is also shown as a true musician, who is enjoyably unpredictable, capable of switching up his flow, flaunting his versatility as a rapper.

 

The most versatile track on the album is “Hard For” — is guitar-led.  Even with a different approach, he is still able to institute his raw, sometimes funny technique. In the song’s hook, Gates is raunchy, but at the same time, caring and loyal: “You the only one that my d*** could get hard for.”

 

“Time For That,” the most underrated track on the album, has my favorite hook: “Cause I done had too many come around and change on me. She screamin’ please don’t waste my time. I say I totally agree. See girl I’m fine with that. I done gave my watches away, ain’t got no time for that.”

 

The most disappointing song on the album is “Thought I Heard (Bread Winner’s Anthem).” Looking at the song title one would think this song would be a classic, a song all of Gates’ fans would sing as it is homage to all “bread winners.”

 

The song fizzles out as no lyrics really stand out as clever, funny, nor emotional, something typical in a Gates song. Instead of a typical catchy hook, it’s lazy, mumbled, rather than shouted, a usual Gates technique.

 

“Islah” is everywhere musically, consisting of every type of Gates fan. However, some songs, like “Told Me” and “Ain’t Too Hard,” are forgettable, leaving one to potentially skip them.

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