The Best Of Kevin Gates' "Luca Brasi"
Following the focused Chained to the City EP from May, Luca Brasi 3 is set to be the first full-length Kevin Gates project since the Louisiana artist was released from prison this past January. Much like Luca Brasi 2, which came out in 2014 after some highly publicized legal issues, this much-anticipated addition to the series will inevitably serve as the glimpse into the rapper’s mind that his interviews may sometimes fail to provide. Where 2013’s The Luca Brasi Story – and that summer’s Stranger than Fiction – marked a shifting point in Kevin Gates’ career, establishing him as a transcendent storyteller, it was the following year’s Luca Brasi 2, which spawned the viral hit “I Don’t Get Tired,” that set him down the path of superstardom.
However, despite his subsequent commercial success, Kevin Gates has remained a hyper-real songwriter. So much so that it often becomes hard to tell if personas such as “Luca Brasi” are the alter ego, or if the visage of an unabashedly cruel mercenary is Gates’ natural state. Gates thrives in this gray area and the Luca Brasi series has become the best outlet for the rapper to freely engage in creative storytelling exercises where each and every story is undoubtedly painted by his own hardships and character flaws.
Throughout the first two installments of the Brasi series, Gates delivered an overwhelming collection of ballads and bangers. We hope that the following list of curated highlights helps newcomers and core fans alike freshen up on their Kevin Gates cannon prior to the forthcoming album.
Already a regional star, “Paper Chasers” presents an established talent with a firm grasp on how to write a hit.
Arms of a Stranger
Kevin Gates has always been a multi-faceted artist, capable of penning heartfelt passages to balance out his more prideful verses, and “Arms of a Stranger” proves to be one of his most delicate ballads to date.
“Narco Trafficante” ft. Percy Keith
A menacing drug lord is only one of Kevin Gates’ personas, but it’s one that he wears with frightening ease. This bilingual anthem is a prime example of his confident demeanor.
“Hold Ya Head”
“Hold Ya Head,” as the title suggests, is a motivational anthem meant to help the naive navigate disloyal partners in the streets as well as the grimy moves of shady industry execs.
Another tender moment amidst a project full of reckless abandon.
Sometimes his romantic songs are disarmingly sweet, sometimes they’re gleefully lustful, and “Around Me” is somehow both at once.
“Counting on Ya”
A lyrical exercise in introspective, confessional storytelling, “Counting On Ya” is cinematic in its execution but wholly personal in its premise.
A relentless, autobiographical stream of consciousness that doubles as a tirade against the fake and a eulogy for those who’ve passed.
We wish Kevin Gates would work with Nard & B more often – “Hero” is a great testament to their sonic compatibility.
Kevin Gates has an uncanny ability to set the scene; within the first four bars of this verse, we’re transported to the exact era Gates is recalling.
“IHOP (True Story)”
The best Kevin Gates songs are the ones where all pretenses are dropped, where he reveals too much information too quickly, forcing us to bear witness to his truth, and the acapella closing track to The Luca Brasi Story is an arresting showcase of Gates’ power as a storyteller.
“I Don’t Get Tired” ft. August Alsina
“I Don’t Get Tired” is a perfect showcase of both Kevin Gates’ aggressive wordplay and his more subtle melodies, both facets of his artistry that immediately placed him at the front of his class.
Despite being undercut by an especially raw first verse, “John Gotti” is home to one of Gates’ best hooks to date.
Gates, who often believes himself to be a misunderstood genius, is understandably a huge proponent of self-love.
This one is an almost comedic account of a high-stakes love affair, probably the only kind that ever piques the interest of a man like Kevin Gates.
“Out the Mud”
One of the biggest hits off of Luca Brasi 2, “Out the Mud” is decidedly more restrained than the explosive “I Don’t Get Tired.”
Anxious and urgent, “Sit Down” does an extraordinary job at setting the scene, allowing Gates to use his various run-ins with the law as cautionary tales for his misguided partners.
“Talk on Phones”
Before “2 Phones,” the how-to-guide on managing your business, there was “Talk on Phones,” a how-to-guide on avoiding the law.
“Wassup Wit It”
“Wassup With It” mixes sobering reality with fantastic dreams of love and sees Gates searching for hope after the longful nature of his stint in prison.
“In My Feelings”
Before making it official with his fiancee, Dreka, Kevin Gates was perpetually in search of someone who truly understood him – someone he could drop his guard around.
“Pourin the Syrup”
Kevin Gates has always been acutely aware of the power of his pen and presents drug abuse in the same, raw manner as the rest of his vices – with no holds barred, Gates’ experiences with sipping lean sound less like a harmless pastime and more like the monkey on your back that it truly is.
Although it’s somewhat anticlimactic when compared to his other closing tracks, “Makin’ Love” is a great showcase of Gates’ continuously expanding vocal range.
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