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Kevin Gates Is a Hell of a Fucking Drug

Kevin Gates tells us about the greatest feeling ever—Kevin Gates.

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“Kevin Gates is one of the greatest feelings ever. He’s not a person or a rapper. He’s a feeling.”

There’s probably a lot to be said about Louisiana rapper Kevin Gates, but he pretty much says it all on his own. Kevin Gates has only one spokesperson, hype man, and enemy—himself. The outspoken 33-year-old rapper came up in the mid-2000s alongside fellow Baton Rouge natives like Boosie Badazz and Webbie, and has seen a solid career in the rap game, peppered with prison stints and controversies galore—most recently he raved to Genius about his affinity for Rihanna’s forehead. Despite all of this, Gates’s lyrical skill-set and knack for storytelling have secured him a place as one of the modern rap kings of The South, with dedicated reddit pages, massive numbers on streaming services, and his 2016 debut album ISLAH going double-platinum.

Ahead of his forthcoming studio album I’m Him, I was offered a chance to chat with him over the phone and instantly said yes, knowing regardless of how the conversation went, it was bound to be a memorable one. I set my alarm for 6am to catch him over the phone while he was in New York and prepared myself to hear what was on Kevin’s mind. The morning of, in true millennial style, I put on some coffee and jumped straight on Instagram, checking Kevin’s page to see if anything of note had happened overnight, and found that he was live streaming. In the video, Kevin’s with his wife Dreka in the back of a car, the unmistakable hum of New York traffic in the background. Dreka’s laughing as Gates does some kind of Foghorn Leghorn impression, talking about eating hot dogs and how to pronounce po’boy.

Someone off screen informs him that he has to do an interview and I think Kevin thinks he’s about to speak with someone who is also named Kevin (he’s not), because he yells, “Tell that man he has the best name in the world!” He signs off, telling his fans on IG that he has to go do an interview—oh shit, that’s me. When the call connects, he answers with a faux British accent, greeting me with a g’day and informing me that he’s currently hanging with a kangaroo named Jamie Middleton. I couldn’t verify who Jamie Middleton is or if he even exists, but surprisingly, an imaginary kangaroo is far from the wildest part of our exchange. If there’s one thing that’s for sure, Kevin Gates is about to wake me up more than any espresso shot could.

Kevin, how you doing man?
I’m big old chillin’, what’s happening?

I know you spent a bit of time away, I bet your kids are happy to have you back. How has it been being home with the family?
We’ve been thuggin’ man, coolin’, catching up and just enjoying each other’s company. Me, my wife and my children, you know? The kids aren’t out here in New York with me, my daughter’s flaming about it because she’s an actor.

What can you tell me about your upcoming project I’m Him?
I don’t really know too much about the project, I’ve done a lot of songs and Dreka is going to put the songs together and put them on the album. I’m going to be just as surprised as everyone else when the album drops because I don’t know which songs she’s going to pick.

So that’s your process right? You just like to record and then let your wife narrow it down and curate the album?
I just make the music, I like the creative part of music but I don’t like the music business, so that’s why I let my wife make those decisions. I know when it comes out, but I let her do all that, I don’t like those kind of things. It’s troubling to the soul.

I’ve heard you speak about the recording process as being therapeutic for you, can you tell us about how you like to record?
I just step into the booth, I stand in front of the microphone and start saying a bunch of words over the beat. That’s where I feel most at peace, that’s my sanctuary. I just go in there and make a bunch of music—oh my god, the task that Dreka has with picking this music, I make so much music and they have to sort through it all.

At the start of your song ‘Push It’ you say “My biggest problem in life was overcoming myself”. You speak a lot on self discovery, spirituality and the journey of the self. Was there a moment in your life that you realised you wanted to be more in touch with yourself or have you always been that way?
Yes sir, when I decided I wanted to push it, that’s when I said “I want to become more in touch with myself, I want to push myself and overcome myself.” I wanna push it, I am him. I want to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. That’s my focus, I’m hungry for this shit. I want to make the best music, do the best tours and the best shows. I’m in competition with the old me.

That’s interesting to hear. You’ve released a lot of projects already—are you always trying to outdo yourself musically?
I got to. That’s why I’m so scared, because it’s like Muhammad Ali fighting Joe Fraizer, the Thrilla in Manilla, rumble young man, rumble. I’m going to show the world how great I am!

Are there any new artists who have been impressing you lately?
Not really, I’ve been so focused on trying to overcome and get prepared for the battle. This is going to be the battle of a lifetime; Kevin Gates vs Kevin Gates. I’m Him is coming baby—title fight, pay per view! I just focus on being great if I wanna be in shape.

I saw an old photo of you and Pimp C together, it felt like it was from a different era. What do you remember about meeting Pimp and were you rapping at that time?
I knew him personally. The first time I met him I wasn’t even rapping, then I met him again when he got out of prison and I was rapping by then. We didn’t really have a personal relationship, he was a friend of a friend. See, I’m a good friend but I ain’t friendly.

I also heard you’re a bit of a coffee connoisseur, is that right?
Yeah 10 espresso a day, keep[s] the viagra away. [Laughs] Nah I just wanted to be funny, I do about two or three.

You had me concerned, that’s not too bad. Who makes the best cup?
Nah it ain’t too bad. It’s best when I make it myself, I got an espresso machine at the house. Big general coffee. Hey, I’m gonna be honest. I am scared to death right now.

Why is that?
On the outside I look cool and calm but this is the fight of my life man. This album gotta be better than the first one. The first one is double platinum. Everything I do is make or break for me but this is the big fight, it’s the big showdown. I pray you’ll be satisfied with it.

I’m sure I will man Kevin Gates, appreciate you man. Thanks for taking the time, I look forward to the big fight.
Gratitude brother, thank you so much. Hey you know what I wanna tell people? You know what I want you to tell people for me?

What’s that?
I want you to tell people that the key to happiness is self-accountability. When you’re following your heart, you owe no one an explanation. Kevin Gates is one of the greatest feelings ever. He’s not a person or a rapper. He’s a feeling. I’m him. Kevin Gates is a hell of a fucking drug.

Bet.
Alright big man, peace.

For more on Kevin Gates follow him here

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