Baton Rouge rapper Kevin Gates returns to the Scoot Inn Wednesday, four months after his second South by Southwest showcase and with a new mixtape, March’s By Any Means. The 55-minute collection blends the rawness of a streetwise rapper with the dexterity of one who earned a master's in psychology during his four months in prison.
The 28-year-old pulls no punches in either his art or in his speech. Hip-hop heads with weak stomachs may want to sit this out.
Austin Chronicle: You’ve done two years in a row at South by Southwest. How was the reception this year compared to last?
Kevin Gates: Every time I return I can see the expansion of my following. I look at my fans as more like family – as my extended family. I can see the growth of my extended family every time I return. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It grows and expands.
AC: You worked with six different producers on the album. How did that come about?
KG: I don’t know which producer I’m going to work with. If I like the music – if I like the beat of the track – I cut a record to it. I don’t have anything preconceived, I just love to make music. I don’t even know what producers I worked with, no disrespect to any of the producers. And I don’t want to know, to be honest. I just want to make music. It’s all I have.
AC: So if you hear it and you like it…
KG: Whatever feeling that it invokes when I hear the music, that’s what goes on the track.
AC: While we’re talking about By Any Means, I wanted to ask about Doe B. He was killed after the two of you worked together. How did you find out about his death?
KG: I was in jail when he died. [Gates served four months in penitentiary for violating terms of his probation]. So, you know, everything that goes on in the streets, jail get it first. Jail gets to know before the general public gets to know. I was incarcerated when I found out what happened with my brother. I don’t really believe in death. It didn’t do anything to me emotionally because I just believe he translated into a different realm of existence. He’s still with me.
AC: What does your collaboration with him mean to you when you listen to it?
KG: That’s like my brother. I look at him like a brother. We had instant chemistry from the first moment I met him. And the times we did share together I’m going to always remember. At the same time I don’t really believe in death, I just look at it as he translated into a different realm of existence. That’s what I believe. I don’t know what other people believe. That’s what I believe. It doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t resonate any kind of emotion when I hear the song. Because I just feel like he’s out doing other shows right now. Right now he’s on tour somewhere else.
AC: Has your master's in psychology changed the way you approach rap?
KG: No, it changed the way that I approach people.
AC: Has that helped you?
KG: I don’t believe it helped me at all. I have to be careful because it’s so easy for me to be manipulative, and I like to be honest. I like to allow people to do things without being persuaded. It’s all in how I use it.
AC: Have you considered continuing your education? Maybe getting a Ph.D.?
KG: Yeah, I’m going back to school, but I don’t really know what I want to take. I’ve never been to a college. That’s always been a dream of mine: to go to a real college, a real university. Which I know my experience would be different from other individuals because I’m me. That’s always been my dream.
AC: Do you have a specific university that you like? In Louisiana?
KG: No, not at all. I just believe that whatever is meant to be will be. When I go back I know it will be to a university that will fit. I don’t believe in forcing anything. I like to allow things to just come or go with the flow. I like to allow things to take care of themselves.
AC: Going back to your music career, you couldn’t have become this successful if you took that approach to everything. You made a lot of things happen with your music.
KG: To be honest, it’s not me who did any of this. I just make the music. That’s really all I did, was make the music. I can’t take responsibility for that. And I will not.
AC: Who do you give the responsibility to?
KG: The higher power. The Creator. Whatever you want to call it. I don’t know. The supreme being or whatever. Whatever anybody believes in.
AC: I learned that you are a big fan of Nicholas Sparks.
KG: I can’t really say I’m a big fan because that’s not what I’ve been reading lately. When I was going through the novel phase I wanted to read about romance and things of that nature. Yeah, I fucked with him.
AC: The thought kept occurring to me that you would be interested in a deep romance novel. The way you speak about women is not harsh, but it’s not necessarily romantic. Do you have any thoughts about that?
KG: It is. It is romantic. I appreciate a woman in her entirety. Unless you’re talking about a particular song. If you listen to my body of work and you familiarize yourself with the music that I make, you would realize that I really appreciate women. That allows me to believe that you’re alluding to a specific song. I fully believe that it’s very romantic and very passionate ,because I’m brutally honest.
AC: That you are.
KG: When I walk up to a woman and if we get into the car and this individual and I have great sexual energy between us, why not pull my dick out? Why not? Bae, look what you doin’ to me. But if I show you what you doing to me, you got it standing at attention. If she goes, “I can’t believe you did that,” I’ll put it back up. That’s brutally honest. That’s not disrespectful.
For me to say to a woman… If I didn’t appreciate a woman I would say, “Bitch, come and suck my dick.” In a song, when I talk about women I talk about allowing them to experience an eroticism. Most men are selfish. Being that I was raised by a woman, I aim to please my partner. Really, I get ridiculed. They say: “Kevin, you eat pussy. You eat ass.” Yeah, I do the whole thing. Anything to make this woman feel electric I will do. Real niggas please their bitches.
I love being brutally honest. I say whatever the fuck I want to say. There’s something beautiful about that when you have an individual that no matter what the consequences are, whatever he feels he will say.
AC: Do you feel like you have anything more to lose now compared to last time you were in trouble? If you were to get caught up with law enforcement again.
KG: Do I feel like I have anything to lose? I don’t really live my life with that mindset. I live my life in the mindset of this: What’s meant to be will be. I don’t know what tomorrow may hold. Growing up in the environment I grew up in, death is forever present. Everybody I ever loved is dead or in jail. So I’m going to enjoy every moment that I can enjoy. Tomorrow will take care of itself. I can say this: If you do the right things, if you live the right kind of lifestyle then you won’t have to worry. I live a lot differently than what I was living back then, so things are different. You have to change your people, places, and things.
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