Kevin Gates – By Any Means
The keeper is “Movie,” a quiet account about the birth of his child in which his iPhone reminds him of a new set of responsibilities he can’t avoid, keyed to a mournful synth and his lulling honey-thick rap-sing. Like Biggy and ODB and Young Jeezy, Kevin Gates has a voice so singular that on first listen it’s hard to know whether he can rhyme (“4:30 AM” and “IHOP” settled that). His third mix tape in a year and tenth overall has Plies and Rico Love’s okay contributions and the pizzicatos and block string samples familiar to Maybach Music records. But Gates finds a novel metaphor for the coke trade in “Arm and Hammer,” not to mention a novel way of interpolating “Frère Jacques” (with an organ). On the Dave Cappa-helmed “Can’t Make This Up,” he blesses his good fortune and looks forward to higher highs, the more natural the better: “Never popped a molly/But when I’m on coffee I feel as if I done just tried it.”
Royksopp & Robyn – Do It Again
On the title track they realize they’d downloaded Britney’s Femme Fatale three years ago but never listened. “Monument” is a nine-minute zombie plod through a land of strategically deployed sax blurts, 1979 synths, and a statue at the center that’s Robyn, intoning statuesque lyrics as if regretting she wasn’t made of plaster. Bleeping and twinkling at half speed, “Every Little Thing” at first hints at a similar dead end until the keyboards stack higher and higher to match Robyn’s masochism. Neither artist is at his and their best, Robyn in particular unable to figure out what romantic pose to enact over the beats. She’s Christine McVie, not Scott Walker.