Kevin Jerome Gilyard, popularly known by his stage name Kevin Gates, is an American rapper, singer and entrepreneur. Famous for his popular hit studio album ‘Islah’, which was released in 2016, he is also known for his mixtapes, such as ‘Stranger than Fiction’, and ‘By Any Means’. Having released several hit singles and mixtapes throughout his career, he can be regarded as one of America’s successful contemporary singers. Gates, who began his career in 2005 after signing to Dead Game Records, a local label, rose to popularity in the late 2000s, along with rappers Webster Gradney, known popularly as Webbie, and Torrence Hatch, popularly known as Boosie Badazz. The three together released their first mixtape, ‘Pack of Da Litter’ in 2007. In 2008, they released ‘All or Nuthin’. Gates is known mostly for his autobiographical themes in his songs. He became hugely popular after the release of ‘Islah,’ his debut studio album. He has listed well-known artists such as Eminem and Jay-Z as his influences. Along with his success in the field of music, Gates has a darker side as well, and has been in and out of prison multiple times. He courted controversy after he kicked a female fan in 2015 during a stage performance. Currently he is serving a 30 month prison sentence.
Kevin Gates began his career in the year 2005 after he signed to Dead Game Records, a local label. He teamed up with Torrence Hatch, (who is now known professionally as Boosie Badazz), and Webster Gradney Jr. (also known now as Webbie.) Together, the three released their mixtape ‘Pack of Da Littler’ in 2007. Their second mixtape ‘All or Nuthin’ came out in 2008. Unfortunately, Gates had a brush with the law soon, and he had to spend more than two years in prison. During this time, he pursued and earned a Master’s degree in psychology through a prison education program. Due to his good behavior, he got an early release. Immediately after his release from prison, he began working on his music. He released the mixtape ‘Make Em Believe’ which was a mild success.
In 2014, he released the mixtape ‘By Any Means’. It was released by his Bread Winners’ Association Label, and distributed by Atlantic Records. It debuted at number 17 on the Billboard 200. It had the hit singles ‘Don’t Know’, ‘Posed to be in ‘Love’’, and ‘Amnesia’, and sold a total of 17,000 copies in the US. It received mostly positive reviews.
The same year in December, he released ‘Luka Brasi 2’, another commercially successful mixtape. It was released through his independent record label Bread Winners’ Association and Atlantic Records. It debuted at number 38 on the US Billboard 200, and within ten months, it had sold over 83,000 copies in the US.
Among the several mixtapes he released over the ensuing years, another successful one was ‘Murder for Hire 2’ in 2016. Debuting at number 2 on the Billboard 200, it was a huge hit and sold 20,000 copies within the first week. It included the tracks ‘The Prayer’, ‘Great Example’, and ‘Click Mouse.’
His debut studio album ‘Islah’ was released in January 2016. With hit singles such as ‘2 Phones,’ ‘Time for That’, and ‘Really Really’, the album turned to be a big hit. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, and sold 93,000 copies in the US within the first week. It also stood at number 16 at the Canadian Albums Chart.
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Kevin Gates was born as Kevin Jerome Gilyard on 5 February 1986 in New Orleans, in the United States. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Baton Rouge, where he grew up. He had a keen interest in music from an early age, and started to rap from the age of 14.
He married his longtime girlfriend Dreka Haynes in 2015. The couple has two children, a son and a daughter, named Khaza and Islah, respectively. The couple converted to Islam and went to Mecca for hajj in 2016.
He has been involved in numerous controversies over the years on several occasions. He gained a lot of negative publicity for admitting to have had sexual relationship with his cousin, and for kicking a woman in the chest during a performance in the year 2015. As for June 2017, he is serving a 30 month prison sentence.