Kevin Gates wears his heart on his sleeve and does not separate his artist persona from the person Kevin Jerome Gilyard; they are one in the same and that quality is very rare in entertainment, especially in present day hip-hop music. Like his Bayou counterpart Boosie Badazz, Gates has risen to become more than just a rapper to his fans and followers. He is friend, someone they can relate to with all of his flaws on the table for everyone to see.
That same fanbase was loyal enough to make his album quality mixtape By Any Means, which was released early 2014, clock in at an impressive number 17 on the Billboard charts with over 17 thousand copies sold in its first week. Keep in mind, this is while the same project was available for free download. That momentum carried him forward all the way to the XXL Freshman Class later that year, all amid legal issues and social media controversies.
2015 saw more of the same, a successful mixtape series "Luca Brasi," packed concerts everywhere…but also some more non-music related drama.
Gates often speaks about his bouts of depression and did so when he spoke to us at REVOLT about how he deals with it every single day and that all it takes is one wrong thought for him to fall into a downward spiral. He also talked about his tattoo artist, who drew the famous guns on his hands, how he was trying to reach Gates recently via telephone and when he couldn't get in touch with him, he shot himself and took his own life. Kevin Gates is an emotional experience whether speaking with him or listening to his music.
Today (January 29) Gates has dropped his full-length debut album, Islah, which is named after his daughter and means a spiritual awakening. Gates—a master of hooks and bridges—broke down every aspect of his music on the 15-track project, which was recorded mostly on a private island in Hawaii but finished, with extra focus on lyrics, in the birthplace of hip-hop New York City.
REVOLT had a chance to sit down with Gates as the new project hit the streets, take a look below.