Straight out of Baton Rouge, Kevin Gates first started rapping in 2005 when he met fellow Louisiana natives Webbie and Lil Boosie. Gates would then make his debut in 2007 with his mixtape Pick of da Litter, and release other projects titled All In and I Don’t Know What to Call It, Vol. 1 over the next few years. Gates then received national attention in 2008 when he was on a song titled “Get in the Way” with Lil Boosie. Soon after the song was released, Gates and Boosie would both be incarcerated in separate cases.
In a personal interview with Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg, Gates said, “I received my Masters in Psychology in prison. I got my ACT in prison. I did all of that in jail.” As for how much time he actually spent locked up, he says, “That’s a lot of years, I been in and out since a child. This is the culture of Louisiana. They have more people locked up in the state of Louisiana than any other country in the world. It’s very poverty-stricken. So being in and out jail is a way of life for most poverty-stricken individuals. I don’t wanna say young black males, so I’ll just say young males. But the majority is like 99% black, overcrowded prison systems.”
After his release in 2011, Gates spent many years on the mixtape circuit. In 2013, everything changed quickly when Gates dropped the popular The Luca Brasi Story mixtape. Even though, the success of Gates’ music had been slowly gaining traction, and he was already a cult phenomenon in Louisiana, the release of Luca Brasi Story would turn him into a hip-hop critical darling. In 2013, Gates signed a major label deal with Atlantic Records.
Gates would now move on to completing his contract with the indie imprint Breadwinners Association by also releasing Stranger Than Fiction in 2013. The album debuted at number 37 on the Billboard 200 chart with features from stars like Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J, and Starlito. He followed up a successful year by releasing a project in 2014 titled By Any Means, a free album that debuted at number 17 on the Billboard 200.
In 2015 Gates released a song titled “Kno One,” which was included on Gates’ debut studio album, Islah, later released January 29 this year. The album was inspired by his daughter, whose name is Islah, a word that mean “to make better.”
Listen to some of Kevin Gates’ material below before you head out to see him shut down JMBLYA 2016. Get your tickets here.