March has been a damn good month for Baton Rouge hip-hop, and for fans of the genre as a whole. The release of Kevin Gates' highly anticipated mixtape By Any Means comes just weeks after southern icon and fellow Louisiana native Boosie was released from prison. It seems fitting that what could serve as a breakthrough project for Gates drops right around the time that Boosie, who helped school Gates to the game back in '07, is finally free.

Since Boosie started serving time, the hip-hop world has watched the rise of several new stars and styles, but on By Any Means, Kevin Gates continues a prime legacy of southern rap that Boosie helped popularize: hard-hitting beats, catchy choruses and straight bangers. Gates enlists the help of some of the south's biggest rap names, including 2 Chainz, Plies, and, most importantly, the late Doe B, as well as production from the likes of V12 The Hitman, Dun Deal, The Runners and Jim Jonsin, among others.

The first few tracks on the 17-song tape are a nice representation for the project as a whole - Gates delivers consistent bangers. The All Star-produced intro track "Wish I Had It" features hard flow, a head-nod inducing beat and a hook that makes you pumped to hear the next 15 bumping joints: "Out my window, I see everything I dream about and wish I had". The rest of the tape shows how hard Gates is grinding, and why he deserves to blow up.

Tracks 2 and 3 are among the staples of the project. Both dropped before the tape itself, and both served as proper hype for the anticipated release. "Don't Know" was released as a single, and in January he dropped a video for the track that you can check out below. Claiming that he knows "no ugly bitches", "bitches he can't hit" or "whips he can't own" shows the Boosie-esque, cocky southern rapper in Gates that make his music even more entertaining.

The rap world lost a promising, talented young man this past December when Doe B was killed in in his native Montgomery, Alabama. As we await a potential posthumous album, it's awesome to hear some new Doe on Gates' "Amnesia", a track that premiered on HNHH. Both Gates and Doe B go in on the Dun-Deal-produced banger, and both display their similar southern styles and roots. Doe opens the track in memorable fashion, spitting "I done fucked so many hoes I can't keep count no more. Will somebody tell Hugh Hefner he ain't got shit on Doe?". Gates' dropped a sick music video for "Amnesia" today, helping to further preserve and immortalize the legacy of Doe. Check it out below. RIP Doe B.

By Any Means is consistent from beginning to end, with a bunch of premier tracks spread throughout. Gates collabs with Plies and prominent southern hip-hop producer V12 The Hitman on "Keep Fucking With Me", Rico Love on "Go Hard" and 2 Chainz on "Bet I'm On It". Gates' prior two releases, The Luca Brasi Story and Stranger Than Fiction, both released in 2013, featured the likes of Curren$y, Master P, Juicy J and more. Gates has worked with Wiz Khalifa and was featured on Pusha's Wrath of Caine tape in 2013 as well. His collaborations show the respect that big-name artists have for him, and the features he pulled for By Any Means only further the notion that Gates is among the hottest up-and-coming rappers in the game.

As for other must-hear tracks on By Any Means, the seventh song, "Movie", is a smooth joint produced by Jeezy affiliate Beewirks that serves as one of the few non-banger/trap style compositions. Gates is calm and reflective on "Movie", switching up his inflection. It's great to get a deep track like this from Gates. He shows that, yeah, he often makes music to turn-up and vibe to, but he's just a normal guy doing that life thing, too: "In the back of my mind, like what the fuck do they want from me? I'm only one man and it's hard to operate when it ain't no sleep".

"Posed To Be In Love", produced by Go Grizzly, is also a bit lower key than the majority of the project, as Gates discusses a chick in his life and the struggles that come with relationships. The song starts off slow, much like "Movie", but the first beat-drop, about 25 seconds in, gives this deep track a cool spin. It's both a chill, laid back track and a banger, in a sense, and it's hard not to feel that beat.

As a whole, Kevin Gates made major moves with this project. It's not that it's decidedly more impressive than his last two releases - "The Luca Braci Story" and "Stranger Than Fiction" were both strong projects. By Any Means serves to build a body of work that's been steadily growing since the Atlantic signee first met Boosie and Lil' Wayne a few years back. His track "Wylin" made Rolling Stone's "Best Songs of 2013" list, and it's clear that more and more music fans are familiarizing themselves with his movement. He offers mainstream appeal, club music, cruise-around music, and simply put, he makes catchy rap music that is easy on ears. There are plenty of reasons to believe that Kevin Gates is on the verge of blowing-up.

Stream and/or download By Any Means below: