Release Date: May 27, 2016
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock, Southern Rap, Hardcore Rap
Baton Rouge rapper Kevin Gates is relentless, both in style and in work ethic. He’s released his latest mixtape, Murder For Hire 2, only four months after his exceptional major label debut, Islah, which is quietly one of the best-selling rap albums of the year thus far, and clearly among the best-made ones. Gates took a sideways route to commercial success, amassing a devoted cult following through his plainspoken and unflinchingly honest raps and a prickly online presence that’s just as confounding.
Kevin Gates is having a great year. After a slew of mixtapes spread across half a decade, his debut in January, Islah, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and expedited the transition for Gates to evolve from a mixtape rapper into a powerhouse album artist. Now, just as how the first installment was a genuine offering to his fans, Murder for Hire 2 is a victory lap for the Baton Rouge wordsmith.
Only four months after he released Islah, his proper debut album, Kevin Gates kept firing with this EP-length mixtape, itself a sequel to the rapper's 2015 mixtape. On Murder for Hire II, catchy, radio-friendly choruses are not a concern, leaving Gates raw and uninhibited throughout. He sets the tone in the opener, chanting "Fuck it, I ain't scared to go to jail," while on "Great Example" he delivers some of his most belligerent boasts while referencing his dependence on heroin.
When most people think of projects from Kevin Gates, it isn’t his recently released debut album, Islah, that comes to mind. Instead, it’s the slew of gutter mixtapes that he’s been putting out for over nine years — the raw, uncut, unfiltered projects that put the Louisiana rapper on the map. Although Islah was well received and his hit single “2 Phones” earned him a platinum plaque, fans and critics alike love him for the overwhelming street transparency heard on his mixtapes.