July 16, 2014

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Jimmy Ness is never three mixtapes behind

Kevin Gates is so good at rapping that the XXL Freshman ’14 cover could have been a close-up of his face. Few MCs combine lucid crime recollections, vulnerable introspection and speaker knockers quite like the Baton Rouge renegade. While the Passionweiss squad works on converting the site into an unofficial KG focus group, I’ve taken on the enviable task of sharing with you a few of his latest releases in the lead up to Luca Brasi 2.

Fellow Southerner Trae The Truth featured Gates on “Dark Angel,” and released the video last week. Despite a cameo from Lil Bibby instead of Jessica Alba and trying a little too hard to be cinematic, it’s worth a watch. KG starts off with a lengthy verse that covers more interesting topics in two minutes than many artists do on a whole album. Gates performs a soliloquy referencing belief in a higher power, struggles with drug use and trying to sate a mourning family’s loss with money. The 28 year old also boldly admits to sexual inadequacy, which is something even less heard in rap than stringed instruments. Although it doesn’t have the same emotional impact, Trae’s verse shouldn’t be ignored either. He does an admirable job of following up Kevin’s powerful testimony, delivering solid tales of struggle with his trademark rapid-fire flow.

Next up is the video for “Posed To Be In Love,” which was included on this year’s mixtape By Any Means and may or may not have been shot using an iPhone camera. Some listeners felt Gates’ decision to discuss domestic violence glorified spousal assault, but the track is more complex than the knee-jerk reaction it inspires. It’s fair to assume with an artist as self-aware Gates, that he includes nuances to the story for a reason. Kevin mentions stalking and an obsession with his female counterpart to cement his character as a deranged lover rather than someone to be revered.

While not the best decision to release visuals for a tale of battery when he could have chosen another single, the clip does further distance KG from the story. He’s seen as an observer in the video rather than the protagonist. Like many great artists his lyrics are capable of inspiring a range of emotions including shock, awe and sometimes revulsion.

Thankfully Gates also left us with a few gems before hitting the road and he’s yet to show any signs of creative burnout aka “Mixtape Circuit Syndrome.” Listen below for his menacing OG Bobby Johnson freestyle, the threatening croak of “Nothing” and finally the hypnotic “Cut Her Off” freestyle. You’re welcome.

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