KevinGatesKevinPaul Thompson was nearly cast in the lead of Memento.

Halfway through Stranger Than Fiction’s “Smiling Faces”, Kevin Gates can’t sleep. His past brings on panic attacks, dooming his relationship with the concerned girl lying next to him. “Every bitch I’m with find out I ain’t shit after three weeks of just fucking with me,” he laments. “I do this three or four times/My life on constant repeat.”

And so the cycle continues. On “Amnesia” (from By Any Means, out March 18th) Gates and the late Doe B are trapped in a Punxsutawney of bad bitches they almost remember. Gates continues to separate himself from his contemporaries by injecting even his most invincible boasts with heavy doses of dread. With sharp topical turns and an unfailingly emotive delivery, the currently-incarcerated Louisianian marries menace and neurosis better than almost anyone since Scarface. To wit, his verse begins: “Dear Lord, could you please have mercy?/Rock hard, bitch on me, twerking”. There’s no wink-and-nod at the camera; Gates really means each line. Condom wrappers and hastily-scribbled phone numbers are discarded together, all with a grim fatalism that bubbles just under the surface.

It’s a lonely (if glamorous) pursuit, but Gates isn’t alone. “Amnesia” opens with an impressive verse from Doe B, the Grand Hustle affiliate who was gunned down just two months ago in his native Montgomery. Defying the laws of mathematics (“Would somebody tell Hugh Hefner he ain’t got shit on Doe?”) and phonetics (rhyming “Rihanna” with “humungous”), B’s verse is endlessly charming, even in his stop-and-start monotone. Standard practice for posthumous releases is to lean on deep, introspective material; somehow, this seems more fitting. Sadly, a few mixtapes and a vault of unreleased tracks probably can’t capture the full scope of a late artist’s vision–but if Doe B is to be trapped in one loop for eternity, he could do worse than this one. At least he always has company.

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