Kevin Gates is in prison, right now, serving 30 months for a weapons charge. That’s an essential fact worth mentioning for any artist with new music out while they’re doing a bid. It perhaps feels extra worthwhile to mention in the context of the recently released “No Love” because the song feels cold and isolated and dismayed and world-weary in a way that Gates’ music doesn’t always feel.
Sure his gritty husk of a voice always has some heaviness in it but this is different. This has more weight and distance to it. The background synth noises have a disquieting menace to them that’s matched by the wordless sighs pinging around the mix. If you could get a grasp of them they’d feel freezing cold to the touch. And Gates himself has the warmth of the East Antarctic Plateau. Here he’s worrying about being preyed upon by people around as he simply tries to live his life. There’s no longer much joy in smoking joints or hitting the club because he attracts snakes like he’s Saint Patrick. Such a brooding song would be affecting enough if it was simply narrative license. That Gates is behind bars right now, perhaps ruminating on who wronged him, makes “No Love” all the more affective of a song.