I guess we better thank the music gods because Baton Rouge trap star Kevin Gates is back with his second studio album. I feel like this release has gone a bit under the radar; for how big some of his music has been in the past, I definitely think that Kevin should have gotten more hype and love from the industry prior to the release of I’m Him. The trajectory of Kevin Gates’ career has always reminded me a lot of Atlanta trap legend T.I. Like King TIP, Kevin had a ton of success in the underground rap world, having songs like ‘I Don’t Get Tired’ and ‘Really Really’ go viral. But also like King TIP, Kevin Gates’ career got hurt when he ran into legal troubles as soon as it started to take off, having gone to jail for an extended period of time before and after his debut album Islah, which came out in 2016. Although this album received a lot of praise and critical acclaim, Kevin’s star started to fade because he was in prison and not in the news anymore. He did try to keep his fans happy with a couple of excellent mixtapes over the last couple of years like Murder for Hire 2 and Luca Brasi 3, but these did not get him the national hype that he deserves. With all of that being said, although I’m Him did not get the pre-album hype that it deserved, I think it will still be a huge album because it is just really good. It is almost like Kevin Gates was made for trap music; his tough life and upbringing have given him some excellent stories to tell, and his voice is just perfect for those deep rattling instrumentals. Kevin Gates also has an excellent ear for contemporary pop-trap beats; every instrumental on this album is awesome and fits the style of his rapping on that song so well. Some rappers will sound pretty much the same on every song regardless of the instrumental because of their flows or vocal styles, but Kevin is not that way at all; every song is different in unique in the story it tells and the way it sounds. If you love trap, I’m Him is for you. It so unapologetically hard and so unapologetically trap in the best way, and I can only assume this record will be the trap house soundtrack for the next year.
I’m Him gets off to an intense and brash start. On ‘RBS Intro,’ Kevin Gates is rapping about how he is the king of his hood that he does not live in anymore. Even though Kevin has moved out of the projects, he still knows exactly who he is and where he came from, and he has not gotten soft in any way. I love the rattling base and old school trap melody on this song. Gates sounds so large and in charge on this song; the raspiness and growling in his voice remind me a lot of Rick Ross and Waka Flocka Flame. Kevin Gates switches up the tempo and flow of the album right away with the next track, ‘Icebox.’ It has always been very impressive to me how on some tracks he is able to command the song with his vocals so much that you almost forget about the instrumental, and on other songs, he rides the melody so smoothly and so low key that it almost sounds like he is being inspired by Drake. ‘Icebox’ is a melodic R&B flavored trap joint that sounds like something Pnb Rock or A Boogie would do. The melody guitar-driven with a very country-rock feel to it. This song is quite the switch up from the first track, and right off the bat, Kevin Gates is showing his incredible diversity as a hip hop artist. After this, we get what is easily one of my favorite songs on this record. ‘By My Lonely’ is driven by the SpeakerKnockerz sample that is used in the chorus of the track. Kevin emotionally raps about how he has basically been on his own for a long time, having lost trust in most of the people that used to be close to him. I love everything about this one, from the melody to the hook to the emotion of the verses. Kevin raps with so much heart and intensity on this track that you will be drawn in by the verses, even though the instrumental is so vibey and nice. Overall, this is just such an excellent trap song. The next song sort of has the same tone; ‘Bags’ also has a nice and sweet melody and banging bass, and once again Kevin commands the mic with his loud and deep and in your face vocals. Honestly, this is one of the only songs on the record that feels like filler to me; it is definitely a very good trap joint, but it does seem a bit out of place compared to the content from the rest of the record. My favorite thing about this track is the lullaby style melody. It sounds a lot like something Father would rap on.
If you got a problem I’m pulling up, strapped. Big booty bitch and I’m pulling on tracks. I play with them words, I play with them birds. I’m really that. I’m stating facts facts facts facts facts.
After that more lullaby style trap song, It is only fitting that we get a heavy banger like ‘Facts.’ I have already cruised around in my car, blasting this one and letting the bass rattle my brain. When I played this one for my brother who loves hard party trap music, he started dancing immediately. Lyrically, this is not Kevin’s most serious or deep track, as it is basically him just bragging, but that is okay because there is a lot of intensity on the rest of the album. The next track, ‘Fatal Attraction,’ is very strange and unique for a trap song. It honestly reminds me of something SpeakerKnockerz would do(Can’t believe I have mentioned him twice in this review. RIP). ‘Fatal Attraction’ is a story about a woman that is playing her man and Kevin at the same time. Even though he knows she has a boyfriend and is a cheater, he can’t get her out of his head. It is a super melodic and poppy song, and it is definitely totally different from what people would expect from Kevin Gates. ‘Say It Twice’ is a song that I would say it totally typical of Kevin Gates and kind of what some people would expect from him. ‘Say It Twice’ is the type of track that makes hood women like his music so much. Kevin raps with this love and admiration for women and their bodies that is not very present in rap; I can’t lie, it is nice to hear rap songs where the women aren’t only being called hoes and bitches and where the women aren’t being talked about like they are an object. This song is almost more R&B than trap. It is apparent on songs like ‘Say It Twice’ Kevin’s singing is really improving. He has gone from okay to a good singer in a couple of years. I really love the next song, man; it might be one of my favorite trap songs of the year. ‘Walls Talking’ is so emotional and intense and personal. I know for a fact that if you ask me in four months how many times I have sat in my room blasting this song and yelling the chorus, I will not be able to tell you the number. I love how the song fluctuates from being sung and being rapped. One thing that is awesome about Kevin Gates is that you can tell that he definitely means what he says. If you are into more emo-rap music with a lot of substance, you need to listen to this song.
‘Let It Go’ is another unique and almost experimental song for Kevin. The instrumental is nothing like anything I have heard from his before, and his vocals are totally different from what you would expect from him as well. This instrumental for this song is super funky and R&B; it almost feels like it is influenced by West Coast G-Funk type music. Kevin really shows off his vocal chops on this song, as he straight up sings and wails all of the verses and chorus on this song. I would love to see Kevin try this kind of music more in the future because it sounds really good. After this, we get right back into super sexual and sensual Kevin Gates. ‘Face Down’ is another R&B trap song about fucking, and I imagine that it will be the favorite song of a lot of Kevin’s lady fans. The melody of this song matches the content of the song so well. If you need a new track to get you riled up in the bedroom(alone or with a partner), you should totally listen to ‘Face Down.’ After that, we get the lead single from this record, the trap anthem ‘Push It.’ If there are any “typical” songs on this record that kind of just sound like what one would expect from Kevin Gates, ‘Push It’ is probably that song. This is not a bad thing, though. There is a reason that Kevin Gates as sort of made his career off of these trap house style bangers with dark melodies. Kevin Gates excels at this sort of druggy and melancholy trap music that sounds like it comes from the gutter. If you are a fan on some of Kevin Gates’ earlier stuff, I know that you will love ‘Push It.’ Speaking of darker and more melancholy melodies, I really love the piano-driven riff of ‘Have You Ever.’ The melody that is being played on this song almost sounds like the songs that you hear when a villain appears out of nowhere or there is about to be a big fight in an anime; I swear to god this melody is not that far off from the battle scene song that they play in the beginning seasons of Naruto. Kevin is basically rapping about all of the tough times he has gone through and all of the times he has been screwed over on this one. You can really hear the pain in his voice. This one kind of reminds me of something Future would make. It would be awesome to hear some songs that have both Kevin Gates and Future on them because their styles would mesh so well. Kevin must have known that we would need something really different after a song that sounded so typical for him, and he definitely gave that to us with ‘Pretend.’ There is not anything on this album that sounds like ‘Pretend’; it honestly almost sounds like something that ‘Bad Bunny’ would make. It has the slow monotonous vibe of an early 2010s trap song and the melody and flow of a reggaeton song. I guess that Jamaican heritage had to show out on this album. I really like ‘Pretend’ because it just throws off the flow. I hope this one becomes a single or gets popular, but I have a feeling this is going to end up being a sleeper.
Designer clothes, that’s what I like. Wrist on froze, that’s what I like. Cop some ice like what’s the price? Fuck your wifey with my wife…
‘What I Like’ is one of the hardest songs on this album; it is a total street banger. I can not wait to get turnt to this in some ghetto club. I love the confidence that oozes through this track. Kevin Gates totally knows exactly who he is and what he wants. ‘Funny How’ brings the mood back down; after the rattling bass and grimey nature of the last track, we could definitely use some more R&B Kevin to balance it out. ‘Funny How’ is an introspective song about a lady that wouldn’t be with him when he was down, and now she wants him because he is rich. It is obvious that Kevin was really hurt by this situation from the passion that he is singing with. I think it is really cool that Kevin can make emotional songs about love like this in the trap genre; as I said before, it is refreshing to hear such respect for women in this kind of music. Speaking of mad love for women, the next track, ‘Betta For You,’ seems to be an apology of sorts to his wife and his daughter. He references a lot of the ways he has screwed them over, and it really does seem like he is trying to make a change. This track has that R&B Kevin Gates vibe again. Kevin Gates is one of the only rappers that is able to make super tough bangers and also make sweet melodic music without it sounding corny or fake. ‘Betta For You’ may not be the song for me, but it was not intended to be, and it is still a good song for what it is. ‘Fly Again’ is a true outro if I have ever heard one. This track is slow and sludgy; it reminds me a bit of some of the depressing and dark trap music that came out of Memphis back in the early 2000s. On ‘Fly Again’ Kevin is telling us that he knows he has made a ton of mistakes and is sorry, but he also knows how great he is and he deserves to be at the top again. This is one of the songs where you can really hear how smart and articulate Kevin is; I mean, there is even a spoken word verse at the end of this song. After the roller coaster of emotions that is I’m Him, ‘Fly Again’ is a very excellent way to rap things up and turn towards the future.
If you are not a huge fan of Kevin Gates, I can admit that the album might tire you out a bit by the end of it. I mean I can not even think of another hard ass trap rapper that can make a whole 17 song record without any features. Literally, every chorus and every verse is done by Kevin Gates, which is impressive in this kind of music. The album does not seem stale at all though. Kevin Gates does a really excellent job of put all of his skills on display. There are dirty and grimey and dark trap cuts, sensual R&B rap cuts, traditional Migos-style trap cuts, and bass-heavy in your face bangers all jammed into the same album, but nothing seems out of place at all. The album flows very smoothly and stays on the topic the whole time. If you are a fan of Atlanta trap or just good and diverse hip hop music, do not miss this record. I’m Him is Kevin Gates’ assertion that he knows he is one of the kings of trap music; nothing and no one can take that away from him.