“They ask me if I’m lyin’ I say really really, I’m really out my mind, I say really really”
– Kevin Gates
This isn’t my first exposure to a Kevin Gates product and I can say I’ve been a fan of his for a while, which allows me to be as harsh as I could be with my review, though he delivers again on Islah. After Kev (we cool like that…Kevin Hart joke) dropped mixtapes By Any Means and Luca Brasi 2 he started to garner much earned respect, and was vocal about knowing that his first major label LP Islah had to surpass these great EPs.
Gates blends his introspective conscious rap with the trap beats that he spits over and even though he will be classified as a gangster rapper, Gates generously spits real knowledge from his wealth of experience, and is as intelligent on the mic as he is off of it. If you don’t agree with his words at least respect him for his gift of word, educating those new to his BWA, remind you he’s human like us. Whatever direction he takes with his songs, the one constant is that he puts emotion into all his songs, and he puts it all out there, whether being about his family, his stint in the penitentiary or speaking on his tumultuous journey thus far, he doesn’t shy away from telling the true story and he sticks by it.
On this tape Islah, named after his first-born daughter, Gates continues to use his gift well, orchestrating amazing hooks and choruses that he croons over using his naturally gruff voice while rapping throughout all his verses with a level of lyricism that continues to impress me. His body of work on this tape is very diverse, his songs ranging from seductive to gritty and raunchy, as is accustomed to a Kevin Gates project. He will hit you with the gangster side with “La Familia” and “2 Phones,” will sound sensual with “One Thing” and “Ain’t Too Hard” or get really real on “Pride” and “The Truth,” the latter explaining in great detail the infamous show in late 2015 in which he got in an altercation with a fan. He spoke his mind with confidence as he tends to do, and when you listen to an artist like a Kevin Gates, you feel as if he is speaking directly to you explaining ‘this is Kevin Gates, accept it or reject it’ and those who continue to support him like myself, appreciate an artist who won’t compromise.
Overall: This made me happy to listen to, Kevin Gates speaks for himself. All rappers should take Gates’s mentality to heart; if you make art that’s close to your chest and you’ll get that sound you are looking for, the sound Gates was blessed with.