Rapper scores big at last month’s SXSW in Austin
“It’s like gumbo. Everybody brings their own spice. It’s a collage of different styles and flavors. Once all of those things come together, you have a mixture that’s beautiful.” KEVIN GATES, rapper
A hit at last month’s South By Southwest Music and Media Conference, Baton Rouge rapper Kevin Gates performed multiple showcases at the annual music marathon in Austin, Texas.
“I’ve been going to South by Southwest for a few years now,” he said. “Every time I go it’s bigger. This year at South By Southwest, every set that I had, the people in the audience knew every word. They repeated them verbatim. So that was different.”
The acclaim his SXSW performances inspired is nothing new for Gates. National publications Pitchfork, The Fader, Spin and more have all written his praises.
“His vision is wide and openhearted,” Spin said, “and his skills are extensive … one of the most sensitive and self-aware rappers around.”
But Gates doesn’t read or listen to any of the acclaim he receives.
“No, because that’s just really someone’s personal opinion,” he said last week. “It has no bearing on how I make music. At the end of the day, I make music based on how I feel. Music is therapeutic for me. It’s a release.”
Nor does Gates follow his sales numbers.
“I don’t pay attention to the numbers or the response,” he said. “I don’t want that to hinder my creativity. My focus is to continue to make great music.”
Gates released his newest mixtape, “By Any Means,” via Bread Winners’ Association and major label Atlantic Records on March 18. It’s available digitally from iTunes and other digital retailers. He passes physical copies of his recordings out for free at his performances.
“By Any Means” features guests 2 Chainz, Doe B, Plies, Rico Love and many more.
“It’s like gumbo,” he said of his collaborations. “Everybody brings their own spice. It’s a collage of different styles and flavors. Once all of those things come together, you have a mixture that’s beautiful.”
Gates does most of his recording in Atlanta, but he’ll record his music anywhere, including wherever he is on the road.
“I have to record,” he explained. “If I don’t record, my day isn’t going to go too well.”
As for performances, former boxer Gates calls the stage his ring.
“I don’t work out, but when I’m on stage I give it everything I got,” he said. “That is my workout.
“I’m not going to say I love performing more than creating music,” he added, “but I do love the energy that I get from people in the audience. I get to see the appreciation people have for my art.”
Despite his increasing popularity, Gates refuses to see himself as a rising star.
“I never, ever want to feel like that,” he said.
Thinking of himself as an underdog helps him keeping striving, he said.
“That’s why I stay away from TV and the Internet,” he said. “I’m never on social media and things of that nature. I just like to keep this mindset that I’m an underdog, because that makes me work and go even harder. I want to stay hungry.”