Transferring the reflective style of rappers like Drake to the genre of gangsta rap, Louisiana-based MC Kevin Gates spent five-plus years on the mixtape circuit before climbing into the Top 40 of the Billboard 200 album chart with his 2013 release Stranger Than Fiction. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Gates made his mixtape debut in 2007 with Pick of da Litter. Mixtapes with titles like All In and I Don't Know What to Call It, Vol. 1 appeared over the next few years. After he dropped the popular The Luca Brasi Story mixtape -- one of the first releases on Bread Winners' Association, a label he co-founded with wife and booking manager Dreka Gates -- things changed quickly. It led to appearances on high-profile mixtapes from Pusha T and Gudda Gudda, and Gates subsequently signed a contract with major-label Atlantic. Stranger Than Fiction, the first of several releases to bear the logos of Bread Winners' Association and Atlantic, was released that same year. It featured guest spots from Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J, and Starlito, and debuted at number 37 on the Billboard 200 chart. Plies, 2 Chainz, and Doe B helped deliver his 2014 mixtape, By Any Means. The next year saw the single "Kno One" preview Islah. Gates' proper debut album, it was issued in January 2016, debuted at number two, and was certified gold before the rapper returned with an EP-length mixtape, Murder for Hire II, that May. The single "What If," whose main hook referenced Joan Osborne's 1995 hit "What If God Was One of Us," appeared in March 2017. The track appeared on By Any Means 2, which appeared in September.
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