HNHH sits down with Kevin Gates for an impromptu exclusive interview that shows a side of the Baton Rouge rapper that you've never seen before.
Kevin Gates, a New Orleans, Baton Rouge native, had a tough time leaving the street life alone to focus completely on his music. It's a feat he seems to have finally accomplished though, but his troubled past is still well-documented in his lyrics. If you aren't familiar with the rapper's discography, which includes the stand-out album Stranger Than Fiction, we're about to make you familiar.
We recently had the chance to chop it up with Kevin for an exclusive interview, and the rapper really opens up. Read and listen to the interview below where the Baton Rouge rapper goes in-depth about his depression, being in incarcerated, his intelligence and more.
HNHH: Let’s talk about the energy thing - you encounter so many people, how do you decide who you vibe with? What’s that energy you pick out from people?
KG: I go off energy. Everything in your body is a muscle, and I believe that the more you work that muscle, the stronger that muscle becomes. Such as with reading - I read a lot and I’m good at reading. Such as music - I make music a lot, I’m good at music, so I’ve always been able to feel energy. People project energy. You know if someone hugs you at a funeral….. When you give someone a hug, they feel better. You’re projecting energy to that person. So when you walk in a room, you can feel there’s tension with no one saying a word. You pick up on the energy, and it’s the same thing with good energy. A lot of times you know, an individual might pick up on energy, and they might not go with that energy that they felt. They might not say, that person has bad energy for fear of being judgmental, but you know what you felt. So I don’t have to be ugly to that individual, or anything like that, I’ll just be like, “okay that’s good, I’m going to speak and keep it moving.”
And I know this might sound crazy, but, I can see energy. I can see it. When I walk in the room, I know who is who, who I'ma deal with, that’s how I sunk for you. I knew. From the moment I touched you, I knew. I knew you was good people. That’s why I don’t really shake hands and did dude like that. I shook your hand….. It’s the type of individual I been.
Now, I have fought against it, and been like man, no. That’s not the truth and I’ve always put myself in predicaments that I did not care for or cared to be in so I started trusting my body, started trusting myself. My mind, my body, I guess whatever elements contribute to me feeling the way I feel. So you know, since I’ve done that, I’ve only been home close to 17-18 months and I’m here, and there’s other individuals who have been doing it forever, they’re not here right now.
HNHH: You said something interesting earlier - how people don’t even know that you went to school and you have all these degrees, so let’s talk a little bit on that.
KG: I guess so to say, at 16, 17, 16 really I took the ACT and scored a 31 on the ACT. I mean I didn’t really consider it me being smart, but I noticed that most street-oriented individuals or individuals that say they’re from the streets - these are the most intelligent individuals you ever want to meet. EVER want to meet. I mean you go to the penitentiary these are some of the most intelligent individuals in America walking around the penitentiary. I mean, it’s just, I know that a lot of times it be like “dumb it down, dumb it down.”
HNHH: Why is that?
KG: I don’t know, I don’t know. Sometimes I like being simple. I mean I feel like simplicity is the most beautiful form, the most accepted form. The way I dress - simple. Gangster. I like to do simple things, I don’t like to be too busy, but sometimes I want to show that depth. I want to exhibit that depth that I have so it’s different. You know what I’m saying? But umm.. I don’t know why it’s looked at like that, but I’m not that individual. I’m not afraid of my intelligence, this is who I am.
Anytime I wanted to know something I go read it, I’d go read about it, I go look it up, I’m never gonna get an opinion from anyone else because I’ve come up under a lot of individuals that may have did a lot of the wrong things with the right intentions - so what they told me may have not always been the right thing to do. So I got out of asking people, because people are humans, they’re entitled to make mistakes. So I don’t allow myself to have expectations for anyone. That’s one thing I pride myself on. If you say something, Ima have to see it to believe it. If I have expectations, I set myself up for disappointment. It just is what it is with me.
After this interview, I don’t know if you’re going to flip my words around. Not saying that you aren’t.
HNHH: No, no, but that’s how society is sometimes. That’s why I’m very careful with interviews - I don’t even like being known as media because when you hear “media” you think, oh they’re about to put some shit up for numbers or twist things around just to get the views or make it news, but I like talking about the real stuff because some people who don’t know you might just think okay, he’s all music and that’s all he knows. So I like to dig deeper into that.
KG: Yeah, I’ve been incarcerated a few times. This last time I was incarcerated close to three years. I had a small buzz in Louisiana before being incarcerated. After being reinserted into society, I really decided to take music serious. I didn’t take it serious before being incarcerated, it was more of a journal. More something I did. I’d do whatever I was doing in the streets, go knock out 2-3 songs then go back to doing what I was doing in the streets. But at the point of being reinserted, when I saw how many people really was like, “Man, we love him. We love his music.”
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I didn’t know it was going to be to this extent. I had other vices that allowed me to express myself then, so now my only vice is you know the game kinda close itself in on you. The walls get small after awhile. So my only form of venting now is tattoos, that’s therapeutic to me, when I undergo the pain of the needle, the pain of reality, it’s an escape. I use that as an escape from the pain of reality. And my therapy is whenever I have a situation - which I’m offensive. I offend a lot of people because I say names and events, everything. But you know this is music, this is therapy, I’m talking to the mic. This is who I’m talking to. This is my therapy. Anything I would say to a shrink or psychiatrist, I say it to the music. I don’t have to have someone sit on the couch and tell me - “well Kevin, you know” because I have a Masters in Psychology if you want to be all the way 100 with it. Psychology is a grey area. It’s characteristics, categorized by other characteristics exhibited by other individuals and the predecessors gave a name for it. “He might be Bi-Polar, he suffers from,” NO! It’s a grey area. You don’t know what the fuck going on with nobody. Even a reality show, how can it be a reality show? As soon as the cameras come on, that’s when everybody starts acting! You know what I’m saying? I’m not materialistic, I get off on the intangible, I love things that cannot be created by man.
I suffer from unspeakable things that I don’t even speak about. I suffer from depression. It’s a hurting feeling when the people you would die for, you find out that they really weren’t who you thought they were and I gotta be careful because I love hard. That’s why I stay away from people, because if I love you, I’m going to give you my all.
Relationships, they only last 90 days. And that’s with any woman. I go that extra length - we in the car, I’m rubbing her feet while we driving, I’m reading her books while we in the bed. I don’t watch TV, I don’t watch YouTube, the TV never on in my house. When I got a woman over, I’m into her.
I make a lot of music about being in love. I never had that coming up. My grandmother was like my mother, my mama was like my sister. Not in a bad way - my mother she needed to be loved, and I couldn’t give her what she needed. I used to be like “why you not here?” I had a grudge, I had resentment toward my mother for a long time until I grew old enough to realize, she was a human, she had me at a young age, there was things that she needed that her children were not able to give her. I understand that. We still talk every now and then, but I understand she needed to be loved.
I might call my girl and be like “what’s happening?” I need to be here. No sex, no nothing. I just need to be here. I cannot and don’t like sleeping alone.
I’m being honest with you right now - this an interview - the shit I’m giving you, no one else has this. Ain’t nobody else have this...Ain’t nobody else got this interview I’m giving you right now.
But yeah, Nicholas Sparks, that’s one of my favorite authors. He wrote that movie, "The Notebook." What I like about it was, dude said in the book, “there will be no monuments left after me when I’m gone, of this, I’m sure. But I love the woman without my heart. It’s the greatest thing I ever did.”
You know in the streets - I ain’t ever grind. Me and my cousin, look we do a lot of talking..You want to know who’s me? He’s an identical reflection of me, we talk all the time. All we ever wanted in the game was a family. We never had that. We both lived with our grandmothers, we wanted a family. When I was in school and I see kids running around and they had families.
KG: I stand up for what I believe in. When you stand for what you believe in, you accept whatever consequences come behind it. I was in the streets, I was doing the wrong thing. In jail, I accept jail. I’m okay with it. What I don’t accept is - when an individual will do something and I guess the consequences weren’t realistic to you, that’s why I tell people, reality is the scariest thing. Reality is the scariest thing on earth.
I take responsibility for my actions. If the burden is on me, I’m not going to give you that burden. And that’s the type of love I have for the individuals around me. I also have the name Luca Brasi. People call me that because he was the enforcer, the protector, the calling of your own family. I’m going to protect my family.
HNHH: I mean, just sitting here for even just that little 5 minutes, I can tell you have a very big heart so what’s your take on umm - you said you’ve been betrayed before. It seems like you put yourself in the other people’s situations..
KG: Man, I was in a car with somebody, that threw drugs in my lap when I was little and they told me to take my leak, I came home and didn’t kill him. I love him until this day. In the game, I was supposed to stand over him and send him I really was. But I did not do that because I love him. Ain’t nobody else tell me whatever - Like I said, If I love you, I could never wish no harm on you. I love these people. The people that cut me the most, I still love them. I don’t wish any harm on them. There’s individuals that say things about me, but how could I respond? I love you. When I love you, I can’t turn it off. I’ll tell the truth and talk about the things you did to hurt me, but I love you. I will talk about it on music and talk about the things that you said or things you may have done as an individual to hurt me. It’s my way of venting. It’s my therapy. I don’t think about who’s hearing my music, I don’t know how hot I am, how famous I am, or what success I reach because I only go to the studios and gas stations.
The things that hurt me are the things I love the most. We as individuals are like that, we love the things that hurt us the most. That’s me! You know what this is. You know what this was. I know what it is. I know what you gonna do me. I knew before it happened. I tell every woman that come around - look I’ll tell you the truth about anything that go on with me. But just lie to me, I want to live the lie, like the Matrix. They fly into town, we get tested right quick, I don’t like to use rubbers. We gonna get tested, you been with me, yeah, when you go back, then great. When you come back, get you tested again, let’s get it. Just tell me you been a saint or a Christian or whatever religion that you’re subscribed to. I don’t subscribe to a religion. I’m bigger than that. I believe I love the creator, I love my neighbors myself, I love my enemies - those are the three principles I live by. I subscribe to the higher power.
HNHH: The last thing I want to ask - If there’s one thing you really learned about yourself through all your experiences - through the depression, everything, and you would give that one piece of advice to everyone, what would it be?
KG: Things are only as big as we allow them to be. Anything in life is only as big as you allow it to be. Anything lost can be found again, except for time wasted. That means that a problem - I can let it be bigger than the world, but it’s really not. It’s only as big as I allow it to be. I never bend too hard for myself. There’s a time and place for everything.