Kevin Gates was born in 1986 and his family relocated to Baton Rouge, Louisiana shortly after his birth. He broke out at the age of 19 as a regional artist and has grown since then to be a consistent resident in the Billboard Top 100. The road he has taken isn’t a scenic path, it’s more like a rocky road in the remote back country. But through the potholes and detours, Kevin Gates has transformed his pain into something transcending race, economics, and his turbulent youth.
Baton Rouge might not be the first place you look for aspiring rap artists, but this was the cradle for a troubled young Gates just starting out. A rough upbringing turned into an early rap sheet for Gates who was arrested at 13 for joyriding as the passenger in a stolen car. His second offense came just four months later.
Gates could have fallen into the pattern of repeat convictions that so many succumb to, but instead, Kevin turned to rapping. At 21 Gates released his first mixtape, Pick of Da Litter, with another to follow in 2008, All or Nuthin’. It seemed Gates had found his way and was making a name for himself regionally.
In 2008 Gates was imprisoned again, this time for 31 months, during which he earned a master’s degree in psychology through a prison program. This could have been the end of his career. By all rights, the fans should have forgotten him during his years of absence. What actually happened is that Kevin’s fan base actually grew during that time. By the time Gates was released, his fans were eagerly awaiting his next album.
Gates delivered, beginning almost immediately. Gates released Make ‘Em Believe in 2012 and The Luca Brasi Story in 2013. This was where Gate’s career really began to take off. The song Satellite from Make ‘Em Believe caught the attention of Atlantic Records.
Hustling Is My Middle Name
Gates started on a regional tour expanding to new regions in Florida, Texas, and Arkansas. Everywhere he went he connected with fans who felt the raw integrity of his lyrics. There wasn’t the hype of the brash, up and coming rap star, nor the big name co-stars on his tour. There was just Gates belting out the lyrics night after night. The fans kept responding and Gates’ popularity kept growing. Gates finally looked like a sure thing.
By Any Means
The tour did land Gates back in jail for four months for a probation violation, but his release in 2014 coincided with the release of his mixtape By Any Means. The album landed at number 17 on the Billboard 200 and secured a national tour for the fast rising rapper. Not even a few short stints back in jail could slow his rise in popularity.
Kevin Gates has built his popularity on his willingness to completely bare everything for his fans. His lyrics are born of a deep honesty that resonates with fans who recognize their own lives in the vivid reality his music recreates.