Not too much new material here for die-hard Gates fans. Still, it's undoubtedly more of the gripping content only their man can deliver--painting his Louisiana locales as some of the scariest places on earth.
The first Luca Brasi Story, released last February, put Kevin Gates on the map. Soon after, he quietly inked a partnership with Atlantic and a management deal with Young Money. He put out another excellent mixtape, Stranger Than Fiction, months later, and heâs had a similar 2014 in terms of output: two mixtapes, both excellent. Though he was one of twelve XXL Freshmen this year, Gates is no rookie. Heâs been hot on the streets of Baton Rouge and New Orleans since 2008, with his single âGet In the Wayâ alongside Lil Boosie. Soon after, though, both men (in separate cases) would be sent to prison; Gates served 31 months, and Boosie, to our surprise, re-entered society early this year. Gates is now well on his way to becoming a household name, but still has no album in sight. For fans of Gates, though, this isnât disconcerting his all. Heâs made it this far with mixtapes alone, and his body of work is 100% his own. All of Gatesâ mixtapes are on available for free download, but you can purchase them on iTunes as well. By Any Means, put out in March, debuted number 17 on the charts, ahead of most major label rap releases. This should signal that itâs worth a few bucks, and Brasi 2 is no different.Â
Luca Brasi was the main enforcer for the Corleone family in The Godfather. He was the silent, ever-loyal muscle behind Don Corleoneâs entire operation. Behind the noble exterior of New Yorkâs most well-respected crime family, thereâs an unseen world of brutal violence and countless murders carried out by the never-second-guessing Luca Brasi. Gates, unlike other rappers, would never posit himself as Don Corleone. Heâs got no entourage, and he does all the dirty work himself. A self-proclaimed introvert, the only time Gates shares his visions is through his music. And on Brasi 2 we get the story-- blood, guts, and all.Â
A Gates mixtape is not your average mixtape. While these songs wonât get any radio play, most of them belong on an album. In fact, Gates slowly dripped the mixtapeâs biggest songs in the months prior to its release. We heard âOut the Mud,â which placed #16 on our top songs of the year, back in July. A month later came âJohn Gotti,â in which he takes his character adoptions past fiction as he channels the legendary NYC crime boss. A month before the release date, he leaked âI Donât Get Tiredâ and âPerfect Imperfection,â and one might wonder why he didnât just make an EP out of the four aforementioned tracks.Â
Gates begins Brasi 2 ringing a close associate of his (though later, âTalk On Phonesâ is all about how he refuses to use phones...). Anyway, he asks for a âfavor,â and we already know what it is: âone of them.â Then immediately we get Gates at his most furious, two minutes straight of nonstop bars over a John Carpenter "Halloween"-type beat. The mood is set, though briefly interrupted by the ramblings of DJ Drama, aka Mr. Thanksgiving. Segueing into âI Donât Get Tired,â the track with the most crossover potential, Gates is singing on the hook, which is soon taken over by fellow freshman August Alsina. Gates stays atop the track bellowing, âI donât get, I donât get tiredâ five times over, before he goes right in. When he's rapping, his message becomes clearer and clearer as he gets deeper into his verses. He picks up speed alongside a combination of increased anger and near-death exhaustion. Nearing the end of the first verse, he sounds like heâs on the brink of a breakdown, which makes for a welcome respite when he cools back down for the hook. âJohn Gottiâ starts with the hook as well. Gatesâ rusty Creole drawl allows him to churn out surprisingly catchy turns of phrase, and his hooks do exactly what they should: provide a head-bobbing breath of fresh air before Gates picks up right where he left off with some of the fastest bars in the South. Even when heâs relaxing, though, the content is all murder: âIt ainât shit to send a hit, I feel like John Gotti.â This is far from the only time he reveals his attitude toward death, no matter which side heâs on. Apologies for the clichÃ©, but he lives every moment, and every bar, like it's his last. âPerfect Imperfectionâ ends with âYou say you donât like me / Well shut up or kill me.â This is a revelation of Gatesâ fearlessness as well as his all-encompassing depression. What makes him so fearful is that he really doesnât care if his enemies kill himâ not that theyâre gonna pull it off.Â
Gates is sometimes willing to write himself off as pathetic, and itâs then that heâs able to really convey that he lives this life he talks about in such great detail. His music runs off emotion, and this is never more evident when he brings his female acquaintances into the fold. One of Gatesâ favorite topics is sex. Heâs been lampooned in the past for his penchant for anilingus, and itâs as if that attention has only prompted him to get more explicitâ at one point he talks about going down while his girl is on the rag. As you can see, you might not be comfortable with Gatesâ type of romance, but oftentimes there are stakes here that we really canât understand. On âPlugâs Daughter,â heâs tied up with, namely, his plugâs daughter-- a high-risk relationship indeed, the end of which could mean the death of his entire family. A Gates woman is a rare breed, someone who knows love isnât an option. âWassup With Itâ finds Gates lamenting this very fact. He knows in his blood that heâs married to the streets, though that doesnât stop him asking for the pussy âone timeâ¦one time will be cool.âÂ
Thereâs a reason Gates pre-released the tracks he did, and they all appear within the mixtapeâs first six tracks. When heard in sequence, it runs as one of the yearâs most satisfying listening experiences. Elsewhere, highlights include a Rich Homie Quan collab (âWord Around Townâ) that really shows the Southâs hook game done gone ugly-- and we canât get enough of it. Thereâs also the B.o.B.-produced âPourin the Syrupââ the rare lean-anthem that isnât any fun at all. Though in comparison to the first half, the latter end of the tape is mildly underwhelming. Also, the narrative here isnât quite as cohesive as on the first Brasi. Each track is full of incredibly detailed storytelling, but there are few references to the actual Brasi character. You might ask, is he Brasi or is he John Gotti? Surely those are two very different characters, and fans wanting an unambiguous end to the saga might be disappointed.Â
In Gatesâ stories, he names countless individuals and personal acquaintances, including members of his crew, potential as well as verified enemies, and many, many lady friends. Itâs the type of material that requires repeat listens and critical narrative study, and even then there will be many blanks to fill. But by now, that should be par for the course for Gates fans, who continue to seek such tales that few before him have painted in such detail. Here youâll find riveting scenes of nonstop suspense and heartbreak, but due to the nature of the game, there will always be secrets that lurk in between the lines. But fear not-- at the pace Gates is going, it seems like heâs got a bank of these stories that he, for his own sanity, absolutely has to get out.