Islah (Deluxe)

Islah (Deluxe)

The Baton Rouge rapper Kevin Gates has never been much for jokes. Earnest, unsparing, and intensely personal, his full-length major-label debut is a downcast trip through tales of the grind (“La Familia”) romantic woes (“Pride”), and the trials of balancing the two (“2 Phones”). He delivers it all with enough charm and hope to keep things from getting too dark or gritty. “Man in the mirror you way outta order,” he raps on “The Truth”—fitting words for an artist who named his album (and his daughter, for that matter) after an Arabic word meaning to improve.

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