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Kevin Gates – ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ Album Review

Baton Rouge native Kevin Gates has come out with his debut retail album, Stranger Than Fiction. After years of building regional acclaim with a slew of mixtape releases, Gates transcended to a national level thanks to his standout appearance on “Trust You” by Pusha T, off his Wrath Of Caine mixtape, and the critical acclaim of his 2013 mixtape, The Luca Brasi Story. On Stranger Than Fiction, Gates sticks to the freewheeling style that has taken his career to new heights in the last six months, presenting a melodic brand of street music that maintains a crucial gritty aesthetic.

Gates’ delivery fluctuates track-by-track, minute-by-minute. His harsh, gravelly voice changes from throaty yelling (“Smiling Faces”) to guttural whispering (“MYB”), and everywhere in between. At the same time, Gates is able to hit notes with minimal assistance to conjure up a melodic flow that also switches up the pace of the song. This is evident on the album intro, “4 Legs And A Biscuit.” The track showcases Gates’ strong suit: his ability to present the street life in an unfiltered manner. There is no glorification of the violent life he was leading prior to striking success in the rap game. Instead, Gates expresses remorse on his opening track, saying, “Lord, forgive me I’m sinning I come to you as a sinner/Take all my scars take my heart, turn me into a Christian.”

The album’s two standout tracks demonstrate Gates’ refusal to sugarcoat his Baton Rouge upbringing. “4:30 AM” is a song with a simple message: nothing good comes from hanging out late at night. The message is conveyed through a series of visceral stories, including the gripping tale of surviving a shootout on the first verse. Meanwhile, “Tiger” is a tale of loyalty that disappears in the trappings of fame, as Gates exposes his tricky relationship with one of his closest friends that have ultimately turned sour.

When Gates enters this territory and exposes his vulnerability, he is in his element. Haunting production, such as the beat on “4:30 AM,” amplifies the mood, while he uses his singing to craft hooks that are engaging and catchy, in a manner similar to Future. Outside of this formula, he isn’t as his strongest, as indicated in the repetitive production that settles in later on.

Often, the 18-song album does tend to drift away from this space. Songs like “Careful” and “Patrick Swazy” are unnecessary and forced. The Migos appearance on “Snake N***a” sounds better suited for the trio’s Y.R.N. project. Despite these faults, Kevin Gates demonstrates the vulnerability and inventive style that have made him one of 2013’s buzzing newcomers on Stranger Than Fiction. He treats this debut album like a retail mixtape, and the result is a project that picks off from where The Luca Brasi Story left off. Unfortunately, these high points aren’t enough for him here to progress further.– Dharmic X (@dharmicX)

  • Hugo Stiglitz

    TRASH

    • swingem

      how can you say its trash?! seriously?

  • thatboyshortt318

    It is a retail mixtape. You can listen to it for free on Livemixtapes, but have to pay to download it.

  • TXrepresenta

    luca brasi story was better

  • swingem

    how the hell did Joey Badass, Le$ and Fat Tony get better reviews for their tapes? and Gates for a L? seriously? Y’all niggas need to go back and soak up the shit Gates be saying…aint nobody coming like Gates coming right now.

    • HipHopHead999

      Joey Badass is WAY better than Kevin Gates.

      • swingem

        Nigga you must be DRUNK. Joey Badass aint even close to Gates….a nigga like Joey Badass has to do two things for the type of rap he make. 1) be must really really book smart or 2) really lived that street life, and i dont get either of that from him

        Now Gates, he a street nigga making street nigga music….but his replay value is unreal. I dont think the reviewer REALLY took time to listen to Gates and what he was saying.

        • HipHopHead999

          You’re crazy. Joey is making REAL Hip-Hop the way it was meant to be made. Bringing the boom bap sound back, the Beast Coast sound, the classic Hip-Hop sound. And his rhyming skills are leagues beyond Gates. He not only is technically proficient but he makes meaningful music too.

          • swingem

            HAHAHA nigga get the fuck out of here…Joey Badass aint gonna teach anyone over 22 years old shit. straight up…you have obviously not listened to Gates AT ALL….now go turn on some Gate and soak that shit up. Everything about Gates shits all over Joey Badass.

          • HipHopHead999

            Kevin Gates isn’t bad, I never said that. But Joey is more authentic. Gates has a mainstream sound to a lot of his songs and too often uses the same generic trap beats 99% of all other rappers use these days. Joey is good but he’s still improving as he is only 18 or 19. Gates is mid 20s so of course he will sound more mature.

          • swingem

            more authentic? seriously?! hahahahaha….I dont think any nigga more real THAN Gates!….and go listen to that niggas tape, he aint using the same trap beats as all them other niggas.

          • HipHopHead999

            Yea, he has the authentic hip-hop sound. And I did listen, there are many Lex Luger sounding trap beats. I’m really starting to feel like you are either Kevin Gates himself or a huge dickrider by the way you keep defending him so much. You need to calm down, people can have differing opinions, not everyone has to agree with you.

          • swingem

            haha homie you are the one who responded to my 1st message….i just cant stand a nigga tryin to compare Gates to some nigga named Joey Badass GTFO.

          • HipHopHead999

            Don’t get it twisted man. I like Gates and Joey. I like Joey more. Both are dope.

          • HipHopHead999

            Don’t get it twisted man. I like Gates and Joey. I like Joey more. Both are dope.

  • SWAG WIT DA SAUCE

    LUCA BRASI STORY WAS WAYYYYY BETTER, ONLY A FEW ON HERE I LIKE

  • kg3

    XXL hating on Gates real lo

  • BrianRaider

    I’m Fuckin Wit Dude Music. He Talented!