My first impression of Kevin Gates was as bad as it could have been, and while I try my best to keep an artist’s nastiness separate from my assessment of his music, I was horrified just enough to stay away from his work. But I’m a sucker for hip-hop hype, and a sucker for the red tag Pitchfork gives their proclaimed “Best New Music,” so I checked out Gates’ debut album Islah. Right off the bat, his flow eats you – this dude is rapping his ass off, and it’s indulgent as hell to listen to. On “Really Really,” Gates’ systematically goes through every single hedonistic tendency stereotypically attributed to hip-hop, which very publicly possesses one of music’s most maligned cultures, and flips the world the bird by not only admitting to such behavior but being deep, deep into it. Islah is a timely and thick representation of where hip-hop is at this very moment; the album is laced with Future and Thugger’s exhilarating aesthetic, with great ad-lib work and snappy delivery throughout, but Gates bodies his bars angrily to appeal to the lyrics-first crowd. The track’s got size with a hook reminiscent of “Don’t Like” (forgive the banger blasphemy), and expect it to make the regular rotation in gatherings where people are making poor decisions.
Listen here. Image from here.