Kevin Gates

Kevin Gates

Kevin Jerome Gilyard (born February 5, 1986),[1][2] better known by his stage name Kevin Gates, is an Americanrappersinger, and entrepreneur from Baton RougeLouisiana.[3][4][5] He is currently signed to Dead Game Records and Atlantic Records / Artist Partners along with his own record label, Bread Winners' Association.[5][6] His debut studio album, Islah, was released in January 2016 and peaked at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart.[7] Prior to Islah, Gates also released numerous mixtapes including Stranger Than FictionBy Any Means, and Luca Brasi 2, all of which peaked in the top 40 on the Billboard 200 chart.[5]

Early and personal life

Kevin Gates was born Kevin Jerome Gilyard on February 5, 1986. He and his family relocated to Baton Rouge soon after his birth.[1] Gates had an often tumultuous upbringing and was arrested for the first time in 1999 at the age of 13 for "joyriding" as a passenger.[8] When he was 17, he briefly attended Baton Rouge Community College.[5]

Gates was charged with battery charges for kicking a fan in the summer of 2015 while he was performing on stage at an event in Lakeland, Florida. He used Florida's Stand Your Ground Law in defense.[9] On October 26, 2016, he was convicted of the charge and sentenced to 180 days in jail.[10] He and his wife converted to Islam and went in September 2016 to Mecca for Hajj.[11][12] He is also serving a 30 month prison sentence at the East Moline correctional facility.[13]


2007–2012: Early career, setbacks, and Young Money

Gates began his career in 2005 by signing to local label Dead Game Records [14] his career would blossom along with fellow Baton Rouge natives Boosie Badazz and Webbie in the mid-2000s. The three collaborated on Gates' first mixtape, Pick of Da Litter, in 2007. Another mixtape, All or Nuthin', was released in 2008 and featured what Gates described as "a lot of pain...a lot of true stories."[15][16] In 2008, both Gates and Boosie were incarcerated in separate cases, effectively pausing Gates' music career.[15] He spent 31 months in prison between 2008 and 2011.[8][17] During this time, he earned a master's degree in psychology through a prison program. He was released early from prison for good behavior.[5]

After his stint in prison, Gates began working on music again almost immediately.[15] In 2012, he earned some buzz with the mixtape, Make 'Em Believe.[18] He also caught the attention of Lil Wayne's record label, Young Money Entertainment. Gates was signed to the management wing of the label later that year.[15][16] Although he was signed to the management wing, Gates never signed a record deal with Young Money. He noted, however, that it was Birdman who gave him the idea to start his own record label later on.[19]

2013–2014: Atlantic Records and mixtape breakthroughs

In early 2013, Gates released the mixtape, The Luca Brasi Story, via his Bread Winners' Association record label. The mixtape received critical praise with Pitchforksaying it, "imbues trap's claustrophobic bleakness with an emotional nakedness, capable lyricism, and melodic certitude many of its recent breakout stars have lacked."[20][21] Rolling Stone named the mixtape's single, "Wylin' ", the 40th best song of 2013.[22] On the heels of the success of that mixtape, Gates was signed to Atlantic Records.[16] He would then release his first major label mixtape, Stranger Than Fiction, in July 2013.[23][24] The mixtape deals with issues ranging from depression to Gates' time in prison.[25] The mixtape also received favorable reviews despite generally being shorter than Gates had originally hoped.[26] Stranger Than Fiction also marked the first time one of Gates' mixtapes charted on the Billboard 200, peaking at number 37.[5][27]

In support of the mixtape, Gates embarked on a 4-week tour in October across the United States called the Stranger Than Fiction Tour. The tour also featured Starlitoand Don Trip.[28] After the tour, Gates again found himself in prison for parole violations. He was sentenced to 4 months, but only served 3 and a half of those. Upon his release in early March 2014, he again focused on music and, in particular, his new mixtape project, By Any Means. The mixtape was released on March 18, 2014.[21]The mixtape featured guest appearances from artists including 2 ChainzPlies, and Rico Love.[4] The mixtape also made it to the Billboard 200, peaking at number 17.[27]

In May 2014, Gates was named a member of XXL's Freshmen Class[29] He also announced the By Any Means Tour which would run from July 15 to August 30, 2014 and feature Chevy Woods.[30] In August 2014, Gates announced the creation of a new energy drink called "I Don't Get Tired" or "#IDGT."[31] The drink is based on Gates' 2014 single of the same name that also featured August Alsina.[32]

2015–present: Success with "I Don't Get Tired" and Islah

With the release of his 13th mixtape, Luca Brasi 2, Gates earned his third Billboard 200 listing in a row. The mixtape peaked at number 38.[33] The mixtape featured the single "I Don't Get Tired" which became Gates' first song to make the US Billboard Hot 100[34] and his first song to be certified Gold.[35] In February and March 2015, Gates embarked on the I Don't Get Tired Tour throughout much of the South.[36] In May 2015, Gates released another mixtape, Murder for Hire, which was said to be the third installment in the Luca Brasi series.[37] In July 2015, he released the song, "Kno One," which would become the first single from his debut studio album, Islah.[38]

In late August 2015, Gates was the subject of some controversy after a video surfaced of him allegedly kicking a female fan in the chest at a show in LakelandFlorida.[39] Gates responded to the allegations shortly thereafter in the form of a song called "The Truth," noting (among other things) that the fan had been tugging on his shorts.[40] In October 2015, Gates married his longtime girlfriend, Dreka Haynes. The couple has two children together, one son and one daughter.[41] Later in October 2015, Gates announced the title and release date of his debut studio album, Islah, which means "to make better" in Arabic and is also the name of his firstborn daughter.[42] The album was originally slated for release on December 11, 2015.[43]

The album would eventually be pushed back to January 29, 2016. It would also feature a total of five singles including, "Kno One", "La Familia", "The Truth", "Really Really" and "2 Phones".[44] Both "Really Really" and "2 Phones" received commercial success.[34] The album sold 112,000 copies in the first week of its release and it also peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 chart.[3][27] The album had almost no guest appearances with the exception of Trey SongzTy Dolla Sign, and Jamie Foxx who are all featured on the bonus track, "Jam".[44][45] Islah received largely positive reviews with Inverse calling it the "Best Album of 2016 So Far."[46] Pitchfork noted that it was "by far the best single release of his career."[47]

On May 26, 2016, he announced that the sequel to Murder for Hire will be coming on May 27, 2016.[48]


Kevin Gates is known primarily for his "confessional anthems" that blend often autobiographical lyrics with refined Southern beats.[3] In a review of his debut album IslahConsequence of Sound noted that "autobiography and honesty have always been central to [Gates'] artistry."[49] Spin has noted that Gates often combines "melodic tunefulness" and "clenched-teeth street rap."[45] In recent releases, he has incorporated more singing, having trained with the singer, Monica. Gates' lyrics often deal with subjects like depression, poverty, and prison time.[3][25] He has listed numerous artists among his influences including NasBiggie SmallsJay-ZTupac ShakurEminem, and others.[5]



  1. Jump up to:a b Campbell, Damon (5 February 2016). "Best Hip Hop Moments in #BHM: Kevin Gates is Born"The Source. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  2. Jump up^ Coppage, Wanda J. (14 March 2016). "Kevin Gates Performs '2 Phones,' Details Drug Charge & Family on 'Wendy Williams' [VIDEO]"Music Times. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d Kramer, Kyle (5 February 2016). "Kevin Gates Just Keeps Getting Better, Really"Noisey. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  4. Jump up to:a b Renato, Pagnani (23 March 2014). "By Any Means"Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d e f g Reeves, Mosi (14 April 2014). "Kevin Gates Gets Ready to Go Global"Rolling Stone. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  6. Jump up^ Maduakolam, Emmanuel (13 January 2016). "Kevin Gates Discusses Growth on ‘Islah’ Album and His Overwhelming Presence"XXL. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  7. Jump up^ "Watch Kevin Gates Talk Writing Process: 'Why Are You Trying to Dissect It?'"Rolling Stone. 12 February 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  8. Jump up to:a b "Kevin Gates in Jail". TrapworldHipHop. July 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  9. Jump up^ Walker, Angus (August 1, 2016). "Kevin Gates denied Florida Battery Charge expulsion"Hotnewhiphop. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  10. Jump up^ Stutz, Colin (October 26, 2016). "Kevin Gates Found Guilty of Battery After Kicking Woman at Florida Concert"Billboard. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  11. Jump up^ "22 Rappers Who Are Muslim - XXL"XXL Mag. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  12. Jump up^ "Dreka Gates on Twitter"Twitter. Retrieved 2016-12-01.
  13. Jump up^
  14. Jump up^
  15. Jump up to:a b c d Courtney, James (15 July 2014). "Why Baton Rouge Rapper Kevin Gates Could Be the Next Rap Superstar"San Antonio Current. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  16. Jump up to:a b c Drake, David (1 March 2013). "Who is Kevin Gates?"Complex. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  17. Jump up^ Lamarre, Carl (23 July 2014). "Kevin Gates Says Going To Prison Was The Best Thing That Happened To Him"XXL. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  18. Jump up^ Diep, Eric (15 February 2013). "The Come Up: Kevin Gates"XXL. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  19. Jump up^ Ivey, Justin (10 April 2014). "Kevin Gates Talks Newfound Success, ‘Bread Winners’ and ‘By Any Means’ [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]". The BoomBox. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  20. Jump up^ Jenkins, Craig (27 February 2013). "The Luca Brasi Story"Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  21. Jump up to:a b Rys, Dan (12 March 2014). "Kevin Gates Gives XXL His First Interview Since Being Released From Prison"XXL. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  22. Jump up^ "100 Best Songs of 2013"Rolling Stone. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 9 May2016.
  23. Jump up^ Staples, Derek (29 July 2013). "Kevin Gates – Stranger Than Fiction"Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  24. Jump up^ Kramer, Kyle (18 November 2013). "Kevin Gates: Love and Other Drugs"Noisey. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  25. Jump up to:a b Hunte, Justin (22 August 2013). "Kevin Gates Describes Overcoming Depression & Incarceration On "Stranger Than Fiction""HipHopDX. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  26. Jump up^ Jenkins, Craig (25 July 2013). "Stranger Than Fiction"Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  27. Jump up to:a b c "Kevin Gates - Chart History"www.billboard.comBillboard. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  28. Jump up^ Lilah, Rose (10 October 2013). "Kevin Gates Going On "Stranger Than Fiction" Tour". Hot New Hip Hop. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  29. Jump up^ Maduakolam, Emmanuel (21 May 2014). "Kevin Gates"XXL. Retrieved 9 May2016.
  30. Jump up^ Lamarre, Carl (6 May 2014). "Kevin Gates Kicks Off His By Any Means Tour In July"XXL. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  31. Jump up^ Nostro, Lauren (27 August 2014). "Kevin Gates Is Launching an Energy Drink Called "I Don't Get Tired""Complex. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  32. Jump up^ Thorpe, Isha (22 December 2014). "Kevin Gates Stays on His Grind in ‘I Don’t Get Tired’ Video With August Alsina". The BoomBox. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  33. Jump up^ Greene, Jayson (12 January 2015). "Luca Brasi 2"Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  34. Jump up to:a b "Kevin Gates - Chart History"www.billboard.comBillboard. Retrieved 9 May2016.
  35. Jump up^ "Gold and Platinum"www.riaa.comRecording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  36. Jump up^ Smith, Trevor (26 January 2015). "Kevin Gates Announces "I Don't Get Tired" Tour". Hot New Hip Hop. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  37. Jump up^ Marshall, Jimaral (27 May 2015). "Kevin Gates "Murder for Hire" Release Date, Cover Art, Tracklist, Download & Mixtape Stream"HipHopDX. Retrieved 9 May2016.
  38. Jump up^ Smith, Trevor (27 July 2015). "Kevin Gates "Kno One" Video". Hot New Hip Hop. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  39. Jump up^ "Woman Kicked in the Chest by Kevin Gates Recounts Attack"BET. 1 September 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  40. Jump up^ Harling, Danielle (2 September 2015). "Kevin Gates Responds To Allegations Of Kicking Fan"HipHopDX. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  41. Jump up^ Fitzgerald, Trent (18 October 2015). "Kevin Gates Marries Longtime Girlfriend Dreka Haynes [PHOTOS]". The BoomBox. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  42. Jump up^ Walker, Angus (22 October 2015). "All Too Human: The Perfect Imperfection Of Kevin Gates". Hot New Hip Hop. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  43. Jump up^ Lilah, Rose (27 October 2015). "Kevin Gates Speaks On Naming His Album After Islah & Parenthood". Hot New Hip Hop. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  44. Jump up to:a b Baker, Soren (29 January 2016). "Kevin Gates "ISLAH" Album Stream, Cover Art & Tracklist"HipHopDX. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  45. Jump up to:a b Pagnani, Renato (25 January 2016). "Review: Kevin Gates Needs No Assists to Fuse His Yin and Yang on ‘Islah’"Spin. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  46. Jump up^ Cook-Wilson, Winston (2 February 2016). "Kevin Gates Made the Best Rap Album of 2016 So Far With 'Islah'"Inverse. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  47. Jump up^ Greene, Jayson (3 February 2016). "Islah"Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 9 May2016.
  48. Jump up^ Goddard, Kevin (May 25, 2016). "Kevin Gates announces Murder for hire 2"Hotnewhiphop. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  49. Jump up^ Madden, Michael (26 January 2016). "Kevin Gates – Islah"Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 9 May 2016.