Kevin Gates - By Any Means 2 Album Review
In an era of rap often lacking originality, Kevin Gates has carved his own foundation in the game by consistently dropping projects and consistently dropping quality projects. There may not be a better indicator of rappers steadiness and love for his fans than his latest release By Many Means 2. Released while in the midst of serving a 30-month sentence for a gun change, Gates entrusted his wife Dreka to handle the majority of important decisions behind the project. The mixtape’s title is thus a fitting one, as Gates shows even a jail cell won’t stop him from releasing music for his fans and that’s what this mixtape should be primarily viewed as: a mixtape for Kevin Gates’ fans.
With By Any Means 2, Gates continues his trend of sequel mixtapes, although unlike Murder for Hire 2 or Luca Brasi 2: Gangsta Grillz, the follow-up to his 2014 project falls short of its predecessor.
Gates plays it safe from a production standpoint, as the beats on BAM2 primarily lend to the Baton Rouge rapper’s strengths. It becomes difficult at a certain points to distinguish many of the songs - which heavy on sing-songy hooks and light on verses - from each other as BAM2 often comes across as more of a compilation of different takes on the same concept rather than an original project full of variety.
It’s tough to assess the structure of songs on the tape, because Gates himself did not have any input on track order. However, while repetitive at sometimes, BAM2 features a much more blended arrangement of songs in the latter part of the tape as Gates goes from the intimate “Do U Down” to questioning God’s role in the hardships of his life on “What If.” The closing song “Why I” gives listeners the emotionally vulnerable Kevin Gates that, while present throughout parts of the project, doesn’t quite hit the level of deepness it does on the final track. Previewed on a YouTube video back in 2016, “Why I” deals with Gates’ disloyal relationship with his cousin Nuk, who called him out in a YouTube video for letting fame veer him from the ways of a “true gangster.” The track’s deeply honest lyrics set it apart as the most quality song on BAM2.
Following the same formula as his previous release Islah, BAM2 features just one guest appearance. Gates borrows vocals from PnB Rock for the chorus on “Beautiful Scars,” which released as a single eight days before the mixtape dropped. The contents of the song serve as sort of an emotion umbrella of broad regrets and betrayal Gates has experienced throughout his life at the hand of women, the streets and close friends. Unlike “Why I,” the lyrics on “Beautiful Scars” fail to ascend from the surface of vagueness. The song instead is an example of the album’s weak points, where vague and repetitive lyrical content make BAM2 just another Kevin Gates project.
By Any Means 2 falls very short of the majority of Gate’s recent work and fails to bring the energy of its prequel. There are times it’s difficult to tell tracks apart from each other due to contextual reputation. That being said, the sequel to Gate’s 2014 underground hit still gives fans enough heat to tide them over as he serves out his sentence. The mere fact that he pushed for this project to be released without having the physical capacity to make any structural decisions is just further testament of how much Gates appreciates his fans. That choice is apparent on BAM2 as it suffers most from structural problems and track choice and, in hindsight, the 14 track length probably should have been cut down to avoid redundancy. By Any Means 2 is a solid release from Kevin Gates considering his circumstances and, if anything, will only make fans more eager to hear what new content the Atlantic Records signee has indubitably been cooking up behind bars.
Sam McQuillan is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.