Sound Advice: Enigmatic Rapper Kevin Gates Hits Bogart's Wednesday and Thursday

Over the past decade, the Louisiana artist has made an art form out of spectacle.

click to enlarge Kevin Gates performs twice this week at Bogart's. - PHOTO: ATLANTIC RECORDS
Photo: Atlantic Records
Kevin Gates performs twice this week at Bogart's.

Kevin Gates is nothing if not enigmatic — a confessional emcee whose oeuvre extends far beyond the recording studio.

Over the past decade, the Louisiana artist has made an art form out of spectacle, weaving near-hysterical webs of raw emotion and contradiction that sound as indebted to Blues as they do Southern Trap. He’s both a crooner and a dialed-in storyteller — a student of ’90s Hip Hop who’s comfortable belting out pitch-perfect renditions of Green Day tunes in interviews and fusing these influences together on a song.

Before Emo Rap became a bona fide genre in the late 2010s, Gates developed something of a prototype on singles like 2013’s “4:30 A.M.,” recalling traumatic memories of violence and addiction over a gloomy piano-laden instrumental. Despite the grave source material, his lyrical edge rarely takes precedence over his sense of melody — or humor, for that matter, when he takes an unexpected jab at his “asshole” high school track coach for a quick laugh. This stream-of-conscious approach to songwriting sounds jarring and chaotic on paper, like a Tony Soprano therapy session, but Gates’ sincerity sells it.

Though Gates hit his commercial peak in 2016 with his double platinum-selling album Islah, his recent work is some of his strongest, detailing his self-improvement and conversion to Islam after a nine-month stint in prison for a gun charge he received four years prior.

Though he’s something of an elder statesman in a scene that seems to get younger by the year, his passionate delivery and confessional lyricism hold up alongside the new generation of artists he’s inspired, like NBA Young- Boy and Rod Wave. He’ll be joined on tour by YouTuber-turned-rapper DDG and Oklahoma upstart Gang51e June, whose Country-adjacent Trap ballads touch on heartbreak, spirituality and social inequality.

Gates will perform Wednesday, Oct. 13, and Thursday, Oct. 14, at Bogart's. Doors for both nights open at 7 p.m. Bogart’s requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for entry. Find tickets and full information at

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