Kevin Gates has undergone a remarkable transformation. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native is morphing right before our very eyes. He’s still a social media lightning rod, but he has mutated into an entrepreneur and motivationalist that espouses the virtues of living life on his own terms. He’s adapt to living off the land as well as lighting up the algorithm on your favorite platform. He talks to Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur about the changes. But, some things do not switch up. The rapper is still cranking out music at a high level and giving people that raw sound they are accustomed to, all the while bucking convention like a real nonconformist.
AllHipHop: (Shows old picture of writer and Gates) When you look at your young self, what kind of memory does that bring?
Kevin Gates: It give me gratitude like, look where I’m at now, as opposed to back then. I’m grateful.
AllHipHop: Well, I’m glad you still pushing and still striving and still creating. So let’s talk about the music first. Let’s lean into that. I heard a few of your new songs, including the one with T.I. Yeah, that joint is serious. In the beginning, you’re talking Arabic, if I’m correct.
Kevin Gates: Oh, yes, sir.
AllHipHop: Yeah. So talk about the song “Active” a little bit and what that means.
Kevin Gates: We did the song maybe a year ago. I think I went by his studio. We did the song maybe a year ago. That’s my brother. I love him. I believe he just finally released it not too long ago.
AllHipHop: He added new lyrics, though, I guess because it seems like he’s addressing some current affairs in his verse.
Kevin Gates: To be honest, I wouldn’t even know because I still listen at the old version on my phone. I’m weird like that ’cause when I’m locked in and focusing on me, ’cause like I said, I’m a lifestyle curator and things of that nature. So I be so focused on me that I don’t really be having time to pay attention to other things like other people what they be having going on. I’m just weird like that.
AllHipHop: Yeah. Yeah. Well, weird is good. When you say you’re a lifestyle curator, what does that mean?
Kevin Gates: Everybody that come around me, I add intangible wealth. I get them things that money can’t buy. People that come around me, they be like, “My skin glowing now, Kevin,” or, “I look younger.” I feel better because of the things that the lifestyle that I live and the lifestyle choices that I make, anybody that’s in the room with me eventually going to get in tune with me.
AllHipHop: How did you get to sculpt your body the way you have?
Kevin Gates: You want me to be honest?
Kevin Gates: You want me to be honest? I went through the fire. I suffered to get where I’m at. Adversity builds character. I turned my pain into passion and my focal point to excel. That go with everything that I’m working on. It’s just my future goals right now.
Big and small screen, lifestyle curator. I’m a designer, ’cause when I go to the store, all I did is pick it out and I picked it up, but I had to get it custom tailored to fit me.
AllHipHop: Yeah. Yeah. Do you stay to yourself mostly? I don’t see you at industry parties or a lot.
Kevin Gates: I say to what’s organic to me. If it’s in alignment with me, that’s why I’m at with it. People be like, “Man, the world’s so corrupt. The world … ” No, the world isn’t as it is, it’s as we see it. It’s we see it. We are reflections of one another. So if you not in love with yourself and you don’t have self-love and self-respect, you not going to ever be able to get that to nobody else.
AllHipHop: That’s a feeling.
Kevin Gates: When I say in the song, you don’t take a chance. You ain’t had a chance. You makin’ a plan to lose. Don’t need a security blanket or safety, harness abandoned school.Took an advance and paid him back. I made an advance and moved. I know how to stand and greet a man whenever he walk in the room.
Kevin Gates: I know how to stand and greet a man whenever he walk in the room, ’cause it make me feel good to give another man that respect. You know? “How you doing? I’m Kevin.”
AllHipHop: You know what annoys me? When somebody doesn’t stand up for somebody when they greet them. I be like-
Kevin Gates: Maybe they don’t know.
AllHipHop: Yeah, that’s true.
Kevin Gates: I can’t fault them for what they don’t know. It’s all about perspective. The greatest teachers teach without teaching. My son, I never had to tell him, “You stand up when a man walk in the room.” No, he watch his daddy do it.
When he come in my office and he sees somebody come in my office, he’s sitting here talking to me and he watch me stand up and greet a man, I know how to stand and greet a man whenever he walk in the room. He automatically stand up because he going to emulate his father.
Now, if he ain’t had no strong male presence in his life or no positive male reinforcement in his life, then maybe he wouldn’t exhibit these type of character qualities.
‘Cause I’m not here to tell him what to do, I’m just here to guide him, ’cause me and him, we teaching each other.
AllHipHop: How old is your son?
Kevin Gates: Which one?
AllHipHop: The oldest one.
Kevin Gates: He’s 19.
AllHipHop: Okay. All right. Yo, it’s a funny thing. One of my favorite rappers from back in the day, but still one of my favorite name is KRS-One. He said-
Kevin Gates: Big teacher.
Kevin Gates: Big teacher.
AllHipHop: Yeah, man.
Kevin Gates: Big teacher. I want to meet him.
AllHipHop: Oh, you never met him?
Kevin Gates: I want to meet him. I never met him.
AllHipHop: Oh, we going to make that happen.
Kevin Gates: I want to meet him.
AllHipHop: Oh, yeah. We definitely going to make that happen.
Kevin Gates: “I do it once, I do it twice. Now, I got steak with the beans and rice.” (Quoting “Love’s Gonna Get’cha (Material Love)”) Yeah.
AllHipHop: So you’ve been getting into this wellness journey now. Fitness has been part of it. What about the mental and spiritual stuff? Well, not even the spiritual, just the mental?
Kevin Gates: Part of it is, for me is, I do like what I’m doing now, I keep self inventory on myself and it helps me navigate. ‘Cause I like to exhibit emotional intelligence with anything that I’m dealing with in life.
Yeah. I like emotional intelligence because I was just reading that every time we have an emotion, it’s related to a chemical release in our body that causes that emotion that we are experiencing at the time.
So instead of asking me why am I feeling like this? F### how I’m feeling, why am I experiencing this emotion? It helps you navigate emotional intelligence.
If somebody disrespect me, did he really disrespect me? Was it an imminent threat? Like what morals or principles did I compromise by him doing what he did? I ask myself why was it triggering? “Is it something that happened in my past? Is it some past? Is it a past traumatic response reaction as opposed to a response?” So it’s just about emotional intelligence for me and keeping that self inventory. ‘Cause a lot of times we don’t understand vision, we don’t understand that. We don’t understand the emotional detoxes. I had to learn this on my journey. I was fortunate enough to have positive male reinforcement in my life also. But a lot of the positive male reinforcement that I had, they was doing a lot of the wrong things with the right ideas.
AllHipHop: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Have you gone through depression in your life? Is that what’s caused you to have this-
Kevin Gates: Yeah, that’s one of my mission statements. I’m combating depression. We have all gone through depression, s###. You went through depression before you took this call. We all deal with depression. We all suffer from that, and that’s what made me take this health and wellness journey because I’m combating depression. That’s what make me enroll my children in martial arts and things of that nature making it fun because I’m combating bullying.
These are the things (bullying) that mold and shape us for the rest of our life.
AllHipHop: Yeah. That’s what’s happening.
Kevin Gates: So that’s just where I’m at with it. Right now, if you was to just be quiet, just listen. It’s peaceful here (in his home). It’s peaceful here.
It’s healing just to be here. That’s why I say I’m a lifestyle curator, ’cause anybody in the room with me, they going to have to get in tune with me, and they going to have fun. They going to discover parts of they self that they never knew existed, ’cause I don’t judge. I create a safe space for people to heal.
AllHipHop: Yeah. Is that your office you’re in?
Kevin Gates: Yeah, I’m in my office. It’s fairly new, so-
AllHipHop: That’s dope. That’s a nice office from what I can see.
Kevin Gates: Yeah. I’m Kevin, but I’m not Kevin Samuels. You heard me?
AllHipHop: Why you say that, though? Why you say that?
Kevin Gates: ‘Cause he had talked about big girls and I said in my song, “My B## bend it open and I grip her back rolls.” ‘Cause I used to punch on a big girl every now and then. You know what I’m saying?
AllHipHop: Right. Right. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, man. I didn’t catch that from Kevin Samuels. He was off code, though-
Kevin Gates: I love him. I love him. I love Kevin Samuels. In life, we agree to disagree and hey, I’ll bust a little Pillsbury up. I ain’t going to lie.
AllHipHop: Yeah, nah,, nah, he was wrong. He was wrong right there.
Kevin Gates: I’ll bust a big b#### up. I ain’t going to lie.
AllHipHop: See, there you go. So tell me, so when I hear you talk like that and I’m like, “Wait a minute, hold up. We was just talking about wellness and now we jump into this.” Is there any contradiction there?
Kevin Gates: Do you see a contradiction, are you looking for contradiction?
AllHipHop: I’m not looking for it. I’m just asking.
Kevin Gates: Well, there ain’t no contradiction then if you ain’t looking for it. I was just telling you how I differ from Kevin Samuels.
Kevin Gates: Now if you want to take it and build it into else, hey, that’s on you, homie.
AllHipHop: Nah, nah, nah, nah. It’s all good.
Kevin Gates: Hey, I ain’t tripping ’cause life is about having fun, and I’m having fun. I’m not uptight. I’m not by the book. When you come around me, hey, I’d rather you hate me for who I am than love me for who I’m not. You going to get Kevin every day.
No politically correct on this end.
AllHipHop: Nah, we’re thugging?
Kevin Gates: We’re thugging on this end.
AllHipHop: Okay. Okay. I ain’t calling no girl Pillsbury, though. I ain’t going to lie to you.
Kevin Gates: That’s my little nickname. Shoot, “You my little Pillsbury.”
AllHipHop: All right. Okay. Nah, ain’t no discrimination. I’ll put it that way.
Kevin Gates: Oh, my bad. You don’t want to get canceled. I’m already blackballed.
AllHipHop: Yeah. You think so?
Kevin Gates: Yeah. I don’t care.
AllHipHop: I don’t really care about getting canceled. I hold my values, but you feel like you’re canceled?
Kevin Gates: No.
AllHipHop: Why do you say that?
Kevin Gates: No, ’cause I already been blackballed ’cause I’m the black sheep. So when you look at yourself like that, it’ll allow you to live in your absolute truth. You don’t care what the consequences about living in your truth. So I already tell people, “Man, I’m already blackballed.”