Kevin Gates-The Luca Brasi Story Mixtape Review
The great unheralded fact about rap music is that most MC’s are not, in fact, on beat. About ten percent of every major artist who lays verses to records can really do it(Nas, E-40) but these are a select few. Not being able to do it doesn’t ruin anyone’s career but being able to do it can definitely help. In the case of Kevin Gates his impressive catalog of flow variations is the most resonant part of his versatile new mixtape The Luca Brasi Story.
It’s a long twenty three tracks but the many moods keep it fresh. He can do the slow angry trunk thump of trap on songs like Weight and Narco Trafficante, keeping each verse interesting “B*&^ch I’m fresh up off my grind like a skateboard in my prime. Don’t skateboard, why lie? Couldn’t skateboard if I tried. I like trap houses and kitchens, love to f#ck with prescriptions(Narco trafficante).” Switching gears (Marshall Mathers, I Need It) to vent pure industry frustration “What the F#ck is up with these A&R’s criticizing music they can’t make, poking fun at my struggle…I don’t find sh#t funny…I live in places that ain’t safe(I Need It).” If you appreciate the sordid street tales they run all throughout, the tape ends with an acoustic IHOP tale. He’s got a love song(Arms of A Stranger) thats heartfelt. A dumb fun song called Ugly but She Fine with Master P that makes as little sense as possible, and one of the smoothest riding tracks of the young year(Just Ride). If you listen to him slowly trudge along on the single Weight and contrast that flow to the melodic speed of his verses on Neon Lights you have to appreciate the way he can make ugly subjects and bragging just as fun to listen too with a dexterous flow.
Grizzly On The Beat and the Maven Boys give the best production here, finding interesting ways to layer trap style beats so they don’t cross over from minimal to boring. It has a more electronic sound than a lot of trap oriented material out there. You can hear chimes, synths, and get lost in skillful hooks and stand out street stories (did he just say he almost lost his leg? When did that happen?). At the start of what appears to be a catchy ring tone song(Hold It Down) he brags about something sexual that is gross and he knows it. He laughs, admits he shouldn’t have said it and keeps trucking. Its a cool moment that defines his character: Kevin Gates will do heartfelt, angry poverty and violence, personal, but sometimes he will compare your nipples to erasers. He wants to make a lot of music and do it his way.
As I was preparing to review the tape news broke that Atlantic Records signed Gates. It makes sense, a lot of Luca Brasi is as anthemic as anything on the radio BUT Atlantic has a rep for shaving the rough edges off acts so they polish better…he needs to fight for those rough edges. The moments where out of nowhere he says something that seethes about the President or Kendrick Lamar are part of the equation that equals one of the best tapes of the year. From interviews Gates seems to know that his ceiling is incredibly high and I agree with him. Being on beat keeps his audience listening, now he’s got a chance on a larger stage to say a lot more.
Download or stream the mixtape below: