Kevin Gates

By Any Means

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Kevin Gates' climb to the top of hip-hop continues on By Any Means, his official 2014 mixtape. Boasts that the Young Money label won't sign him because he's "too violent" ("Wish I Had It") sit next to simple, hooky thug tracks ("Arm & Hammer" arguably being the best), and while that's the standard stuff that's found on mixtapes, from old editions of G-Unit Radio to whatever the Diplomats crew just issued, Gates goes above and beyond with the format. The 2 Chainz feature "Bet I'm on It" is a radio-worthy number while tracks like "Movie" (Frank Ocean-like R&B) and "Posed to Be in Love" (a love song with some Eminem-sized obsession) are unexpected excellence buried on a stopgap release, all of them making this mixtape quite necessary for fans of Gates' albums. Plies, Doe B, and Rico Love also lend a hand.

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