Louisiana has a solid history of hip-hop artists dating back to the late 90’s, when the rap landscape was pretty barren of anything redeemable. When Ja Rule was at the top of the charts it was a very sad time in hip-hop, but there were a few great artists coming out of New Orleans: Juvenile and Mystikal. Neither artist was perfect, but both (particularly Mystikal) were using the sounds of their surroundings to do something interesting in hip-hop. Lil’ Wayne carried the New Orleans torch following those two, to even larger success. Is the next great Louisiana (I say Louisiana because Gates is actually from Baton Rouge) rapper going to be Kevin Gates? Maybe.
I was a little late on this Kevin Gates thing. I had never listened to one of his mixtapes, or even a single track, until his lead single (“4:30”) for his debut studio album was released. In fact, I haven’t even listened to the studio album, Stranger Than Fiction, as of yet. But after hearing “4:30”, I think I may be all in on Kevin Gates as a fresh new voice in hip-hop.
“4:30” is very un-singley. It doesn’t have much of a hook to speak of. It barely breaches the three-minute mark. Its just two strong verses with a little bridge hook sung/spoken by Gates himself. This single is probably not going to turn Stranger Than Fiction into a platinum record, but I think its enough to establish Gates as an important new artist. His gravelly voice is not exactly something that’s never been heard before, but it is much different than most of the smooth customers dominating rap today. In addition, the earnest desperation he works with in his delivery is to a level only maybe Meek Mill has approached in the last year.
I’m excited about this guy, and you should be too. Can’t wait to get my hands on Stranger Than Fiction.