Kevin Gates drove up in a matte black truck and sat down in the backyard of East Austin shop and coffee shop Friends & Neighbors the same week his song "Get On My Level" rang out all over the SXSW music festival. It was just days before his most-anticipated project (yet), By Any Means, was to be released and only a week after fellow Baton Rouge rapper (and early collaborator) Lil Boosie left prison. Gates has been building his name, especially over the last year, and spoke with Microphone Check hosts Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley about his conflicted feelings regarding his success. "The more I grow in popularity, the lonelier it gets," he says. "Because you don't really know me. You just know this part of me. You fell in love with that. But it's way more intricate than what meets the surface."
In their conversation, Gates says he records to deal with depression, even though he's his own biggest critic, and that he makes music for himself. He reads Anne Rice novels and books about meditation, writes constantly and says of his first show, when he forgot the lyrics to his own songs, "It was the most embarrassing, humiliating, best thing that ever could have happened to me."