Not to idealize an era in which major label political machinations could make or break careers, but there used to be a time when it seemed like the best rappers rose to the top, when artists with strong personalities and notable styles would find their ways into recording contracts and onto the pop charts. This was, of course, the era before the whims of social media began to dictate release date schedules. Credit goes to Young Money, then, for doing it the right way; Kevin Gates is a Baton Rouge, LA rapper with a strong personality, an interesting back-story and well-rounded sense for musicality. The lead single for his newest mixtape, Make Em Believe, was just released, and it exhibits his talents perfectly: earnestness, a dense onslaught of words that still manage to seem economical, and some striking imagery and an emotionally honest core.
April 10, 2012