Mixtape review-4 Respect by Kevin Gates & Youngboy Never Broke Again
Hip hop people say the same thing to each other about Kevin Gates. We look at each other with a head scratchers facial expression and say “I think he’d be one of the best rappers in the world if he wasn’t…crazy.” Anyone who heard him interviewed on Combat Jack knows how deeply cracked Kevin Gates is but if we’re honest with each other that was the excitement of diving into The Luca Brasi Story in the first place. What we mean when we are talking about Gates as crazy is his oversharing. Gates is the anti-Drake. While Drizzy shares nuggets of his life they always feel as if they rolled off the conveyor belt of a 5 year plan to keep his massive audience enraptured in the persona of his character. Gates will talk about having sex with his cousin on twitter, he’ll drop two bars about eating butt that mess up your whole listening experience. This is the Gates situation it isn’t a problem because it is what makes us want to hear every new Gates verse. What is this madman going to say next? The downside: some things are so messed up you can’t unsay them to an audience and it ruptures the relationship.
Enter NBA Youngboy who last year stamped himself into the center of the hardest worker conversation. This year he put out the long and fantastic Until Death Call My Name in April and now he is back with this four song collaboration with the Michael Madsen of New Orleans rap music. The John Henry-like focus Youngboy has in building his name up as an MC who makes music both deeply personal yet super fun is infectious and as a result Gates hasn’t sounded this focused since Islah. Gates is as good as anyone at catchy hooks, he knows exactly when to let his voice get weird and crackly amidst the melody. Youngboy is the sure thing rapping with intensity on 2 Hands while Gates comes into the chorus laid back in a semi-hush. These two seem to get each other on a deep level. 4 Respect is the fastest EP of the year, the New Orleans pace has always been quicker than most places but they pack songs like TTG with visceral imagery about prison and cigars. Even a two minute song like Head On slams, it could easily just have been another useless trap song about banging my girlfriend (lot of trap songs about banging my girlfriend) but Gates flow is legend and the Youngboy chorus is ill. They get a lot done in a short time.
I think these two should form a rap group and never look back. Youngboy can keep Kevin out of his own head and Kevin can add some odd kinks in the pounding propulsion of Youngboy.
stream or download 4 Respect below:
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Tagged 4 Respect, best mcs in the world, hip hop groups, Islah, Kevin Gates, mixtape review, NBA Youngboy, New Orleans hip hop, The Luca Brasi Story, Until Death Call My Name, Youngboy Never Broke Again
Mixtape Review-By Any Means by Kevin Gates
A cynical person would probably say that Kevin Gates is a product of the modern rap landscape. A lot of his songs have to do with longing for female companionship or trapping and the melody in everything he says might be considered a post-Juvenile trait. As any reader of this site knows I am not cynical; Kevin Gates is a standout artist. If you gave ten of your current favorite rappers use the same beat same song concept alongside Gates he would have the version that sticks with you. It’s more than a skill at half-singing or his voice being a weapon of a thousand growl variations, Gates is a master of tempo and balance.
By Any Means is his new mixtape and more evidence of the thinker at work. His trap contribution Arm and Hammer growls and throttles your speakers but isn’t full of outrageous lies either just proper amounts of good humor, paranoia and determination. He brags along with the best of them on Amnesia showing genuine excitement over the birth of a child on Movie and one other thing I forgot to mention, no one feels betrayed better than Kevin Gates. The ability to swing from slyly not remembering people (Amnesia) to shaming those who betrayed his trust (Stop Lyin’) is an emotional strain. I’ve never heard a Kevin Gates song and thought to myself that he was doing this one for the club or to hit some target demo. It’s a saving grace especially when we get to the really gross sex songs. I’m not sure how a reasonable person could make it through Go Hard featuring Rico Love, where we hear dripping in the background while Rico croons a chorus about how he wants to give oral to his lady until she goes to sleep, unless we knew he was coming from an honest place. He is an honestly gross dude just like he’s an honest trapper or street tale storyteller, honest in the sense that he means it.
His internal rhyming is meticulous and everyone sounds great on songs with him. Plies sounds re-invigorated and 2 Chainz sounds ferocious. Production is handled by Dun Deal, V12 Tha Hitman, Beewirks, Honorable C-Note, The Runners and others and it’s exactly the Gates sound you found on Luca Brasi and Stranger Than Fiction; that big rippling boom brought to order by a true master of ceremonies. A conductor of the track who can make you cringe your way out of a head nod with shocking confessions like the car crash “don’t know how I’m walkin’” portion of the lead single Don’t Know. He sews little shocking fragments of stories into his verses that make you want to learn so much more. It’s not because he is in an emotional zone or it’s a topic on the top of his mind. He’s smart and knows how to lead an audience where he wants them. By Any Means doesn’t blow away any previous offerings, Stranger Than Fiction was the high point of his bouncing vocal changes and Luca Brasi felt like it told you everything you needed to know but once you are a fan of Gates music you are in it for the long haul. If you don’t understand you aren’t yet a fan.
stream or download By Any Means below:
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: