Over the years, people have found countless creative ways to describe sex. You are having coitus or mating, if you feel clinical. Hit the ugly or act mean, if you’re feeling cheeky. Shakespeare called it “doing the beast with two backs” in his tragedy “Othello”, and Kevin Gates has an equally poetic name for the act – if that sounds like his moving hymns, we have a feeling it’ll catch on on. “I like to call it spiritual unification,” Gates says. “It’s a very spiritual act, and people use ‘sex’ objectively, but it’s two souls coming together. It’s supposed to be sacred and I consider myself sacred. My masculinity is sacred.
Gates’ atypical approach to sex goes beyond renaming the act. He’s taken an exceptionally unconventional approach to sex as a whole and, frankly, we’re not quite sure how he does it. “I practice sperm retention,” Gates says. “I’ve been on this trip for maybe three and a half years. When you release semen, you release bone marrow, hair follicles, blood, you release all your vitality and life source. You just give it away for no reason.
“When I want to have sex, I take that energy and sexually transmute it into something else,” he continues. “It’s all about energy and where you focus it. When I engage with a woman, I pray. I don’t see sex as ‘kiss kiss, bang bang’, it’s a special act. If a woman can’t nurture me intellectually and give me intangible wealth outside of sex, you can keep your pussy. It’s very prevalent in my life and I could have any woman I wanted, if I wanted.
Gates’ mindset towards sex stands out from other artists in the hip-hop genre and is reflected in his music. He doesn’t shy away from talking about love and lust in his work, but these songs take on a noticeably different tone from the chamber songs of his peers. “My message has always been the same, even with the songs I’ve done about sex,” Gates says. “They’re so detailed because I take that sexual desire and put it into my music. With my songs, I want to bring women in and I want them to experience ecstasy. I put that in my music and you can feel it when you listen to it.
This attention to detail makes its way into Gates’ latest body of work, his third full-length studio album “Khaza.” “Khaza” comes three years after Gates’ last project, 2019’s “I’m Him” and includes a ton of new material. However, he also returned in 2013 with “Thinking With My Dick”, a single he first released nearly a decade ago. Gates first dropped this song on his 10th mixtape “Stranger than Fiction”; however, after gaining popularity on TikTok, he made the decision to re-release it for a whole new generation of listeners. “It took the world from 2013 to 2022 to catch up,” Gates says. “I’m so ahead of the curve, I’m advanced. It’s a beautiful thing and it allows me to stay the course. I’m just gonna keep moving forward into the future and they’ll figure it out later.
Gates made “Thinking With My Dick” one of the album’s promotional singles, alongside new songs “Bad For Me” and “Big Lyfe”. He couldn’t have picked two better songs to show off his versatility, both in style and subject matter. With “Bad For Me”, Gates addresses his personal struggles and the difficulties of dealing with a toxic relationship. He’s no stranger to spilling his soul over a hard-hitting beat, as he’s become synonymous with confessional-style raps that touch on some of his darkest moments. It turned out to be a source of healing for Gates and, in turn, a source of healing for his fans.
“Five or six people come up to me a day and cry,” Gates says. “They tell me, ‘Your music saved me from suicide.’ When I did the song ‘Fairytale’ about sexual victimization, people bonded with me and thanked me for being so transparent. They look at me almost as a ray of hope, as if there is light at the end of the tunnel. I came from pure negativity and was able to turn my pain into passion and positivity.
From the jump, Gates wanted “Khaza” to have peaks and valleys. “Bad For Me” explores the negativity and tragedies he’s experienced, while the triumphant “Big Lyfe” basks in the glory he’s earned. From everything he’s done so far, he thinks “Big Lyfe” will be ahead of its time, just like “Thinking With My Dick” was. “It’s so big it’s not even being received properly right now,” Gates says. “It’s timeless, it’s out of here.”
Like his music, Gates’ tattoos encapsulate the ups and downs of his life. Gates is easily one of the most tattooed artists in hip-hop, and that’s quite an achievement. It highlights the pain and suffering he experienced through his tattoos, including the two teardrops under his left eye and the portrait of his older brother Joseph, who was murdered. On the other hand, he also has portraits of his pride and joy, his two children Islah and Khaza, for whom he named his first and third albums. Each tattoo on his body has an important meaning, and over time the process of tattooing has become just as important as the pieces themselves.
“It’s spiritual,” Gates said. “I sit with my shaman, we sage, we burn palo santo and we pray. We do all of these things before we do the tattoo because it’s a very spiritual experience and we put a beautiful energy into the tattoo. That’s why all of my tattoos are beautiful on their own. I’ve been living with my tattoos for a while and when I’m inspired again I put on something new. It’s a journey and I’m going to live with what I put on me for the rest of my life. So I will make sure to do my best. »
Gates may be running out of room on his own body, but his fans certainly haven’t reached that point. The mark of a true legend is getting your fans tattooed, and Gates has reached millions of potential canvases through three full albums, 17 mixtapes and a handful of EPs. And he’s truly touched by fans choosing to honor his legacy with tattoos. “It’s really beautiful to me, and I didn’t know it, but there are more people with my tattooed face than Tupac,” Gates says. “He’s a super great artist, so for people to get more tattoos of me than him, it made me go, ‘Wow, I gotta do something good.'”
Kevin Gates is truly one of them. He lives by his own rules, whether in the studio, at the tattoo artist’s or in the bedroom. This unwavering individuality cements his legacy and will undoubtedly make “Khaza” a work to be reckoned with. Hold on.