“Had To,” finds Kevin Gates going in over some atmospheric production, that somewhat sounds like a sample from Donkey Kong Country 2. What’s most impressive about Gates’ performance on this joint is his versatile delivery. He uses his voice extremely well, fluctuating from a wise baritone to an urgent-sounding higher cadence, all while holding it down throughout with solid melodies. The track is dully powerful considering Gates’ current predicament, and lyrics alluding to “snakes in the grass” take on a whole deeper meaning.
Even though Gates no doubt recorded this track before prison, the nature of this release gives it a different context entirely. It’s interesting to hear Gates refer to himself as a snake, and it makes you wonder if it’s his way of expressing guilt and remorse for his past transgressions. Suffice it to say, “Had To” is a brave choice for a single; if I had to guess, we might be getting Gates’ most personal project yet.