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A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.

July 31, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Kevin Gates: ordinary name, extraordinary Southern rapper | Concert preview

(Jimmy Fontaine)

(Jimmy Fontaine)

Kevin Gates, who brings his “By Any Means’ tour to the Crocodile Friday, Aug. 1, has an average-sounding name, but the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based artist has become one of the leading voices from one of the central states in Southern rap since breaking out with last year’s “The Luca Brasi Story.”

It’s a strong, 22-track collection of trunk-rattling beats and gripping gangsta narratives delivered in a baritone voice with an unpredictable, emotive expressiveness. “By Any Means’ is Gates’ latest free album, his third in 13 months.

Though Gates has been making music since before his first “official” mixtape “Pick Of Da Litter” (2007), his life in the streets often interfered with his productivity. After he served a sentence for drug and firearm charges and was released in 2011, his subsequent mixtape releases gained the attention of New Orleans rap legend Lil Wayne, who briefly made Gates part of his Young Money Entertainment imprint, which has also birthed superstars such as Drake and Nicki Minaj.

But Gates’ meteoric rise came at an especially opportune time last year, with Lil Wayne more focused on skateboarding than making music, and former Baton Rouge rap king Lil Boosie just getting released from a five-year prison term this March.

Still, Gates is an undeniable force on the microphone, whether it’s over booming production from reputable producers like Nard & B, Dun Deal and Honorable C-Note, or over almost no beat at all, as in “Luca Brasi”’s closer “IHOP (True Story).” The latter coldly illustrates a murder setup over simple thumps and taps, flexing Gates’ lyrical skills and sparing any clichéd glorification of gangsta tropes.

Kevin Gates

8 p.m. Fri. August 1 at The Crocodile, 2200 2nd Ave., Seattle; All Ages, $15 (206-441-4618 or thecrocodile.com)

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