Straight out the dungeons of rap and decrepit hard drives comes the original Kevin Gates project — a promo disk hosted by Baton Rouge DJ legend, Ya Boy Earl. This was prior to his first official mixtape, but directly after he signed to Dead Game for a half a brick (which he lets you know within the first two minutes).
This was the promotional calling card that Earl, Gates, and Dead Game passed out in the clubs and local high schools. Countless shows and grassroots campaigns get swept under the rug when you become a star. Most of the rap world believes that Gates truly emerged with the first Luca Brasi, but there were a half-dozen free mixtapes that won the streets over well before. There was a jail bid that interrupted his rise, but only added to the mystique. So when he came home, Gates was next in line.
But this Promo Disk that Earl just uploaded to LiveMixtapes demonstrates that he came out blasting, and only the correctional facility could quell the ascent. Released in 2007 at the height of the “Wipe Me Down” apex, Boosie remained the most popular rapper in the region. Hence, the decision to recruit him for the “Get in the Way (Remix).” But the original Bad Azz-less version is on here, featuring Gates doing the dancehall patois better than anyone outside of the island. Truss mi. I once asked him how he was able to switch into that accent so well and he deadpanned, “I know a lot of Jamaicans.” Fair enough.
The most notable guest spot on the tape comes from Nu$$ie, the late jacker-turned-rapper who was also amidst a career transition that made him briefly the city’s second biggest rapper. ’07 was arguably the most interesting era of the city’s music with both Trill Ent and jig dominating the clubs, offering a side-by-side methodology of getting ratchet. Louisiana rappers often get dismissed by snobs as not being lyrical or enough of rapping-ass rappers, but if you believe those fables, Gates’ first tape ought to crush those lies.
This is just pure savagery, sex raps and slaughters. He threatens to leave you “stuffed in a dump truck like Isaiah’s mother.” He writes songs about how his mom knows he’s a killer, sneers about her fears that he’ll wind up like his brother. There are lyrical interpolations of Ready to Die and references to bumping Jay Z and Lupe (it was 2007). There’s a song called “Just Starting,” dedicated to his dreams and ambition. It’s no different than any other rapper on their first mixtape, but there’s that sinister disconnected dead-eyed soul to Gates that makes you believe. When he rasps, “I’m going to die famous,” it’s more than idle prophecy. It came true.