Kevin Gates, whose new album I'm Him is expected soon, was the guest on Thursday's new episode of Everyday Struggle. In addition to taking a deep-dive into the inspiration behind his new music, Gates also touched on the career inspiration he gleaned from Birdman and detailed his personal "mission statement" focused on mental health.
Below, we've broken down a few key moments from the Gates x Everyday Struggle discussion, which can be viewed in full up top.
Kevin currently being in "album mode" has him feeling scared due to the reception of Islah, his 2016 album.
"I'm scared to death right now because I am in album mode," he said around 24 minutes into the interview. "I'm scared. I set the bar so high with Islah. That's a classic album. Like, how do you top Islah? And I gotta do it again. I'm honest. I'm scared to death. And it's just like that fight. I can only imagine how Muhammad Ali felt being in the ring with George Foreman. He used to break men's ribs."
I'm Him sees the artist tackling some deeply personal issues, including a song about his daughter.
"My daughter be with me, and I talk to her like she's one of my little partners," he said around 26 minutes in. "So I'm on the phone, and she hear me. I said, 'I don't know why dude got his pants sagging. Ain't nothing holding you down. If you don’t got at least two under your belt, pull your pants up.' And she hearing me talk like this. 'Daddy, what are you talking about if he don’t have two under his belt?' Man, that boy ain't got no bags. Why he sagging his pants? Ain't nothing weighing him down. I tell my daughter the truth. Your pants sagging you got a graveyard under your belt weighing you down."
Gates added that he's "always going to be honest" with his daughter. "Make your own choices, your own decisions, your own thoughts, and feel your own feelings," he said. "I'm Muslim and you don't ever have to be. I'm your father, but I want you to go farther."
Kevin partially credits his position in the industry, which notably includes his and Dreka Gates' Bread Winners Association, to lessons he learned from Birdman, Weezy, and other industry figures.
"I'm in the industry right now with no co-sign," he said earlier in the discussion, around 18 minutes in. "Shout-out to Wayne, shout-out to Young Money because they did allow me to come in to view their infrastructure. But it wasn't that I harbor resentment that that situation didn't work out. It wasn't meant to work out. Some situations in life are just for you to learn and have appreciation in learning. And like I say, I left the situation and I knew what I wanted. When I saw Birdman buy all those cars and give all them dudes money, I watched him do this . . . I'd say, Man, I wanna do this for my team."
While addressing his mental health struggles and his attempt at shooting himself following his release from prison, Kevin outlined his "mission statement" for others going through the same thing.
Noting that he wants to help others who suffer or have suffered internally, Gates opened up about his own previous tendency toward feeling "inadequate" in the presence of people he believed had these matters more figured out than he did at the time.
"That's a bullet, that's a .38 snub," he said around 11 minutes into the interview, also asking Wayno to touch the affected portion of his head. "You know who did that? This is my first time ever admitting this... You know who did that? I'm guilty. I'm guilty, I did that. I did that to myself."
Gates said he's now in a better place. "I still deal, I found a better way to deal with it," he said. "But when I'm around people that are more complete than I am it makes me feel inadequate . . . I would feel like I don't wanna be around them [and] I'm going to try to find flaws with that person because I'm hurting on the inside. Yeah, I'm guilty of being that way."
Elaborating further, Gates said his "trying childhood" played a part, though he's recently moved into forgiveness.
Bread Winners' Association boasts an organizational structure that's inspired by McDonald's.
"My partner and I... we modeled our organizational structure after McDonald's," he said of BWA, which is co-operated by Kevin and partner Dreka. "Because when you go to McDonald's, you know what you're getting already. And if we do integrate any changes, it'll be very subtle. But you almost can go in there and know what you about to get, you almost know what to expect. And then when you see the subtle change, you appreciate it, like, 'Hey, I might try that, that's fly.'"