Kevin Gates is on a mission. He always has been. At times, that mission might have been misunderstood. But the Baton Rouge-bred artist is more concerned with being in alignment with his music and his purpose than he is with trying to please anybody. In this day and age, where social media and cancel culture somehow reigns supreme on someone’s musical fate, Kevin’s energy is disruptive to the natural flow of the followers. When the hip hop highway gets too crowded, Gates knows how to disconnect himself from the world, and resurface with Khaza, his third studio album via Bread Winner Alumni/Atlantic Records.
“I had kinda pumped the brakes. I had to get back in tune spiritually,” says Kevin of his awakening. “I went through this phase, where I had to start vibrating on a higher frequency. A lot of things changed for me. A lot of people fell out of my life. It was very painful. But if it wasn’t for that, it could be no this.” Khaza is 19 tracks of pure Kevin Gates testimony, with production handled by a range of Hip Hop’s current sound masters, including Relly Made, DJ Chose, T-Minus, Nick Mira, Dzo Beatz, Ghana 1K, Patrick Carmelo, and That Boss Evan, among others.
Well aware that his private life can play out in the public eye, and not always so graciously either, Kevin knows that living in his purpose can sometimes be a struggle. It’s an occasional “crucifixion” by the media, as he defines it, but it’s a necessary evil that comes with being a truth teller. “People that walk around being politically correct and don’t tell the truth, the world loves them, they kiss their ass,” he explains. “A person like me, who gonna tell it how it is, those are the good people on Earth that get talked about the worst. That’s who they point the fingers at.”
Acknowledging his own personal growth, Kevin admits that his recent experiences have helped him become more comfortable and open in his music. “I aged like ten years backwards once I start living in my truth,” says Kevin, before revealing that even with 17 years in the game, he’s “just scratching the surface.” In short, “I don’t know what I stand for. I just know there’s a lot of shit I ain’t going for.”
With the first single “Big Lyfe,” Kevin furthers his philosophy of truth telling, warning of the dangers of chasing bad energy and seeking acceptance. “I don’t play Instagram games. What you see is what you get. I don’t use no filter,” says Kevin of the social media disease. He goes a step further, in separating himself from the redundancy of today’s copycat-driven influencers. He explains, “Comparison is the killer of all joy. When you’re comparing your regular life to somebody else’s highlight reel, you’re gonna always see fluff and compare fluff to you. But I don’t compare myself to fluff, because I’m authentic texture.”
Kevin wrote Khaza in the span of two to three months, across various parts of the country. But whether he was in Puerto Rico writing parts of this project or in California writing a song like “Black Clouds,” Gates was always mentally in the same place. On “Black Clouds,” one of the project’s more laid back tunes, Gates lyrically reveals his emotional turmoil and internal trauma. And on the melodic mid-tempo “Truth Be Told,” Kevin honestly details love stories gone wrong. “We all make mistakes and we love to love/ you don’t feel the same when my name brought up/ Heartbreak is rough, it get dangerous / You still crave my love like angel dust.“
With an invitation to “get up on [his] level,” Kevin preaches his word on “Scars,” rapping about the permanent effect of one’s internal damage. At times, Kevin is overly confident in his lyrics, but balances that with his vulnerability. “I’m constantly rediscovering parts of my life that I didn’t know existed,” he offers. On each track, KG delivers a necessary message that falls in line with his overall mission. His mission has a purpose, and that purpose, he believes, is predestined. “I’m in love with my mission. I’m in love with my music, and no other music makes you feel the way this makes you feel. This is a mission that I must complete.”
Perfectly timed to where Gates is in his life journey, Khaza is a complete reflection of Kevin’s inner soul—the medicine needed to heal from the struggles that a similar journey may present to his listeners. And he’s not going to let any perceived notions about who he is stand in the way of what he needs to accomplish and those that need to heal from his music. Since the album’s release Kevin has released several singles to keep the momentum building including: “Big Lyfe,” “Bad For Me,” “Intro,” “Metro,” “Major League,” and his explosive “Super General (Freestyle).” The album was supported by his KHAZA national tour with several sold-out dates across the country, first kicking off in Dallas, TX. Kevin kicked off 2023 with the official DSPs release of his debut mixtape, The Luca Brais Story (A Decade of Brasi). He immediately followed up with the stand-alone release of his “Breakfast” single with the visual featuring his longtime partner, Dreka, as the leading lady.
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