REVIEW & STREAM: Kevin Gates – ‘Islah’


This week Kevin Gates hit the Breakfast Club poured up and talkin’ that ish like only Kevin Gates can – unapologetically real. Adorning the True Cross on his forehead between his eyes and vowing to remain true to himself and no other, Gates is as candid with this music as he is with his social commentary and views about life.

Lets start with the album title, Islah.  The word comes from the Arabic language and is  usually translated to mean “reform” in the sense of  improvement or becoming better, something that Gate’s often talks about in his music. Reforming, changing for the better and being true to yourself at the same time.

At the end of the day thats’ why his fans love him and it’s why he’s ended up in various situations with managers and fans. Cross Kevin Gates and there is no going back from there. It’s an expression and mantra Hip-Hop has grown to live by, so in many ways he is embraced despite the headlines he makes with cousin, his dogs, groupies and fans.

In some circles he’s questioned and often misunderstood, but he’s a married man to a woman he calls his best friend. It doesn’t get any realer than that.  Now he has his most publicized project out online as a major label release with Atlantic, and all eyes are on Mr. Gates. You would have to think Kevin’s clarity and mental state is at an all time high.

As such, the album starts off FIRE with the first three songs, “Not The Only One,” “Really Really” and “2 Phones” setting the pace for a project that has rhythmic and melodic qualities unlike any in Hip-Hop music. They speak of being true and doing what you say, all this while Kev is relating to cats in the streets hustling.

Take for example the tracks “Time For That” and “Hard For,” where he puts his heart on his sleeve in typical Gates fashion for the ladies. Using an acoustics, soulful hooks, and melodic breakdowns throughout Gates pulls out all stops.

Who could overlook the radio and club ready tracks like “Jam” featuring Trey Songz, Ty Dolla $ign and Jaime Foxx?  This project is a big step for Gates and things can only go up from here barring any personal setbacks, because that’s only person that can get in his way.

Few can harmonize in the way Gates does, showing he has a knack for layering the music and finding ways to reach the user with real statements that people can live by and relate to, regardless of his curious behavior with cousins, dogs and fans.

Highlights: “Not The Only One,” “Really Really,” “2 Phones,” “Time For That,” “Kno One,”  “Jam” ft Trey Songz, Ty Dolla $ign and Jaime Foxx