If Kevin Gates' debut album seems wiser and more confident -- not cocky, but confident -- than the competition, consider that the 2 Pac-styled, serious rapper began dropping his mixtapes back in 2007. His Luca Brasi series is revered and crucial while his aboveground mixtapes Stranger Than Fiction and By Any Means felt official, with hooky thug tracks meeting genre-expanding experiments. Islah is no different, it's just built like an official album and meant to last. Check the excellent singles "Kno One," "Really Really," and "La Familia" for some easy persuasion, and then know that the album is devoid of superstar appearances because the captivating Gates doesn't need them. ~ David Jeffries
Spin - "[ISLAH] happens to be the most-balanced Kevin Gates project to date, discovering an equilibrium between his pummelers and his caressers we didn't previously know was possible."
Pitchfork (Website) - "ISLAH is a sustained and triumphant outpouring, and Gates gives every good, bad, and ugly thing he has. It's by far the best single release of his career: It's more melodic and more focused; fiercer and more playful; funnier and sadder."