Kevin Gates, ‘Had To’ | Track Review
Kevin Gates shows off a solid flow and a memorable hook on “Had To,” a promo single released in advance of album, ‘By Any Means 2.’
The “Bread Winner” is back. That’s Kevin Gates, who experienced a breakthrough with his 2016 album, Islah. Gates returns with By Any Means 2, which follows up the first installment of By Any Means, released in 2014. The rapper released several singles in advance of the album, including “Had To.”
“Had To” commences with a mysterious pad, and Gates’ introductory vocals drenched in autotune. The chorus/hook follows – guess what the key lyric is? “Had To!” Gates delivers a pitched, pop-rap oriented performance on the verse. Even though there’s a melodic approach, “Had To” still has an edgy nature, thanks to the production work. His flow is excellent, one of the selling points of “Had To.” Another selling is the chorus, which is catchy:
“Too many snakes in my grass, yeah, yeah, I had to mow it… / Too much lean in my soda, you know I had to pour it / Rubber bands in my hand, shawty bad, I had to throw it / I be trickin’ on a bag, yeah, yeah, yeah, you had to know it / Is you rollin’ / Ooh you had to know it…”
As far as rubs, Kevin Gates doesn’t break any new ground with “Had To.” Read through the lyrics, and he raps about clichés. Take the chorus for example. He focuses on status, lean, and sex. Been there, done that. While he has a great flow on the verses, his rhymes aren’t transcendent or brand-new. Not every record requires innovative spirit, but “Had To” could use a smidge more ambition to make it more compelling and more memorable.
So, did Kevin Gates really ‘have to’ release “Had To?” As a promo single, it serves its purpose, but doesn’t aspire to any greater purpose. Perhaps Gates doesn’t need to change things up right now, but eventually, he will. This is okay, but ultimately, forgettable.