Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Kevin Gates: Islah [Atlantic, 2016]
There's so much criminal detail here I believe he has a dope income stream as well as a musical income stream, but unlike the usual trap street soldier, he's not hard. There's so much sexual detail here I believe his dick is long and he can go all night, but unlike the usual R&B smarm merchant, he's not smooth. He's just ready. There's barely a wasted track on a major-label bid that has more hooks than a Temptations best-of and more moods than a four-year-old at Disneyland. Do I like everything he says, much less puts on Instagram? Not close. But his saga is an encouraging, fascinating, educational up. This is a guy who always brings his daughter on tour and thinks affluence is a big day at Bloomingdale's. He's emotional, tender, violent, sensual, fickle, determined, fatalistic, unpredictable, unreliable, hedonistic, and from Louisiana. In a land of 10,000 wannabes, he's an original. And his only cameo is a Trey Songz throwaway on the "deluxe." C'mon, people. Who needs Trey Songz with Kevin Gates ready to cry his heart out, rub your aching feet, and put his finger up your booty? A-