Kevin Gates Reveals He First Started Rapping As An ‘Escape’ From Sexual Abuse He Faced As Child

Kevin Gates dropped his first official mixtape when he was in his early ’20s, but the rapper has been writing music long before that. He’s spoke about his childhood in various interviews in the past, but Gates recently revealed on Mike Tyson‘s podcast that he was sexually abused when he was young and began writing lyrics as an “escape” from his tumultuous childhood.

Gates began his conversation on Tyson’s Hotboxin’ podcast by addressing how growing up in a racist environment still affects him to this day. “It’s going to be a different type of interview because I’m going to tell the absolute truth,” he began. “It’s a real racist place, being in Louisiana, just being down south, period. And I’m still kind of breaking that stereotype in my mind. It’s a barrier.”

When asked about the path that led him to music, Gates revealed that he suffered sexual abuse as a child. Because he was coping with trauma, Gates turned to rapping as a creative outlet:

“It was an escape for me. I’m going to say something — I’ve never said this in no interview, no podcast or anything like that — I grew up real, real violent, aggressive. Not because I wanted to be, but I was molested when I was a child. So I had this fear of being vulnerable. I took every kind of martial art you can take. I even boxed, I did everything and I wanted to be the toughest person on earth. But writing and making music was always an escape for me. I never had the nuts to come out and say that. This is my first time saying that today.”

After opening up about his abusive childhood, Tyson responded with empathy. According to Complex, Tyson opened up about his own experience with childhood sexual abuse in 2014. “I know that route, too,” Tyson told Gates. “Why do you think I became the meanest motherfucker on the planet? Somebody did something to me. I didn’t want it to happen again, so I became this guy.”

Elsewhere in the 50-minute conversation, Gates spoke about his devotion to his Muslim faith and his relationship to his children. He also mentioned that he now lives on a blueberry farm and takes care of camels on the property, which he says is akin to having a pet dog.

Watch Gates’ full interview on Tyson’s Hotboxin’ podcast above.

Kevin Gates is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.