Headliner: Kevin Gates
Representing: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Mixtape: The Luca Brasi Story
Real Spit: It's not uncommon for a rapper to fancy himself after a gangster, fictional or otherwise. Still, while most MCs draw parallels to Michael Corleone or Tony Montana, Louisiana hip-hop artist Kevin Gates goes in an entirely different direction.
In February, Gates released his The Luca Brasi Story mixtape and on Tuesday, he will rerelease the project as a retail EP with Atlantic Records and his Breadwinners Association label.
"I watched a lot of mafia movies as a child," Gates told MTV News' Mixtape Daily.
Brasi provided the muscle for the Corleone family in the 1972 classic film "The Godfather" and with that inspiration, Gates, a Baton Rouge-native patterned his tape. The tape-opener "Mr. Brasi" begins with a soundfill from the film before breaking into a high-powered trap track. "I'm a street n---a, got beef wit cha, touch everything in your family," he spits with sizable aggression.
While Gates is more than capable with rap bars, like so many of his rap contemporaries he is equally adapt with melody. On "Paper Chasers" he drops sing-songy lyrics, but on "Arms of a Stranger" he goes full-on R&B. "My heart, my heart, callin' out to you," he wails of a break-up before shouting on Nicholas Sparks' best-selling novel "The Notebook."
Then he switches again on "I Need It." Over the Grizzly-produced track Gates chronicles his struggles and chastises those who criticize his way up. "2008, I got my leg blown off/ Any given day can get my head blown off," he spits illustrating the dangers he's faced.
In "The Godfather," Brasi was a feared hitman, but he had a sensitive side, never afraid to express his love for the Corleone family. On The Luca Brasi Story, Gates also shows two sides; he's in touch with his emotions and loyalty to his street ties. "I've always been real protective over the people that I call family," he said.
Joints to Check For
» "Neon Lights" — "'Neon Lights' is talking about this woman bringing me out of my shell. The occupation that she had, she would be under neon lights a lot of times. I can say what the occupation was but I like to allow the fans' imagination to wander."
» "Arms of a Stranger" — "The concept behind 'Arms of a Stranger' it was really based off one of my favorite authors, Nicholas Sparks and he wrote 'The Notebook.' It was about being in love."
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