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Kevin Gilyard (born February 5, 1986), better known by his stage name Kevin Gates, is an American rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. On February 15, 2013, it was announced that Gates signed with Atlantic Records.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Gates grew up often listening to rappers such as Snoop Dogg, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, the Notorious B.I.G., and Dr. Dre. From a very young age, Gates had aspirations of being a rapper and wrote his first rap in the seventh grade. In 2004, Gates began working professionally at a studio.
Kevin Gates first began rhyming in 2007, when he began making music with fellow Louisiana natives such as Webbie and Lil Boosie. Gates first received attention with his 2008 single "Get in the Way" featuring Lil Boosie. Soon after, he and Boosie would be incarcerated in separate cases. Gates would then be released in 2011 and immediately returned to recording music. He would soon earn the attention of Lil Wayne and would start being managed by Young Money Entertainment's management wing. In early 2013, Gates released a mixtape, The Luca Brasi Story which was called "easily the best rap-related thing" in February 2013 by Spin Magazine, who also said he has "been a rapper to watch for a few years now". The Luca Brasi Story has been downloaded from popular mixtape sharing site, DatPiff, over 130,000 times.
On February 15, 2013, it was announced that Kevin Gates signed with Atlantic Records. Gates was also featured on Pusha T's 2013 mixtape Wrath of Caine on the song "Trust You" and was featured on frequent collaborator Gudda Gudda's mixtape Guddaville 3 on the song "Hustle All Day" also featuring Flow. On July 16, 2013 Gates released a street album titled Stranger Than Fiction, the street album featured guest appearances by Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J along with being supported by the single "4:30". Stranger Than Fiction debuted at number 37 on the Billboard 200 selling 8,400 copies in its first week. Rolling Stone ranked his song "Wylin" at number 40, on their list of the 100 Best Songs of 2013. His second street album By Any Means was released on March 17, 2014. It debuted at number 17 on the Billboard 200, selling 17,000 copies in the United States. Gates was named part of the 2014 XXL Freshmen Class.
In an interview with XXL Gates has stated he's a fan of Southern beats citing Master P and Cash Money Records as a big influence. Gates also cites Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z, Big L and Eminem as influences to his lyricism.