Being incarcerated can't keep Kevin Gates down. Yesterday, the critically acclaimed yet legally troubled rapper delivered a powerful video for "What If" and an accompanying hand-written note, which served to shed some light on Gate's current mental state. If the message is to be understood, Gates has made peace with himself, and seems mentally prepared for the hardship he's undergoing. And while the fans have been fiending for some new Kevin Gates music, their wishes have now been granted. Gates' team recently made the announcement that his new album By Any Means 2 is set to drop on September 21st, curated by his wife Dreka Gates. Ms. Gates was given full creative control of the project, and it seems she has selected a powerful single to kick off the album rollout.
"Had To," finds Kevin Gates going in over some atmospheric production, that somewhat sounds like a sample from Donkey Kong Country 2. What's most impressive about Gates' performance on this joint is his versatile delivery. He uses his voice extremely well, fluctuating from a wise baritone to an urgent-sounding higher cadence, all while holding it down throughout with solid melodies. The track is dully powerful considering Gates' current predicament, and lyrics alluding to "snakes in the grass" take on a whole deeper meaning.
Even though Gates no doubt recorded this track before prison, the nature of this release gives it a different context entirely. It's interesting to hear Gates refer to himself as a snake, and it makes you wonder if it's his way of expressing guilt and remorse for his past transgressions. Suffice it to say, "Had To" is a brave choice for a single; if I had to guess, we might be getting Gates' most personal project yet.
Climbin' forward, strivin' I'm a grinder
Rearview watchin' what's behind ya
Peripheral watchin' what's inside ya
Close homies just as a reminder
You can smoke just don't let it blind ya