Max Bell conducts all business meetings at the IHOP.
The wise man knows that he knows nothing at all. I’m either paraphrasing Socrates or RZA. Listening to too much rap in college can cause you to conflate philosophers and rappers on a regular basis. Baton Rouge’s Southside Brasi, Kevin Gates doesn’t know many things either. He doesn’t know women that say “no,” ugly women,broke men, fey men, snitches, how he bought his car — etc.
“Don’t Know” finds Gates relishing the fruits of his labor: designer clothes, expensive cars, private jets, etc. Innumerable rappers do this with every song, so it’s more than permissible that the introspective and haunted Gates occasionally follows suit. This isn’t Gates at his most lyrical, but no other auto-tuned rapper makes Home Alone references sound frightening. Within this framework, he still manages to add the macabre in high-speed chases and head-on collisions.
Mostly though, it’s fun to listen to Gates toy with the art of rapping very well. He begins the second verse with a truncated, stop-go flow before launching into laid-back double time. Producers Knucklehead and Go Grizzly (who deserve a reality pilot for pairing of their names), construct an ominous banger. They pull as much from Lex Luger as they do horror film scores, with plenty of sub-rattling 808 drums.
The video for “Don’t Know” just dropped via Complex, and it’s worthwhile counterpart. With beautiful shots of leaves falling in country backwoods and towering skyscrapers, Gates’ white Panamera looks like the perfect place to discuss the writings of Epicurus. Or maybe it’s just the quickest way to get to your plane.