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Kevin Gates is the most surprising industry story of 2016, and you wouldn’t believe it.

Kevin Gates has a rather interesting distinction attached to him now. The Baton Rogue rapper in 2016 alone has made waves, converting his popular social media following into a more than faithful fan base that purchase his mixtapes and albums. He, a gangster rapper with a bit of guilt and Goines-like storytelling approach trapped within his heavily tattooed body was pacing himself alongside pop heavyweights such as Rihanna and Adele. Even after his work ethic forced his label to tell him he couldn’t release an album, he still gave out a mixtape in Murder For Hire II.

It’s currently the No. 12 album in the country. (No. 7 if you’re going off HDD’s tracking)

Back in January, Gates released his proper debut album with Islah and it’s racked up over 500,000 copies sold (pure album sales + streams) to earn him a gold plaque in 2016. How rare is that? Drake, who currently owns the No. 1 album in the country with Views is the only other rapper who has earned a plaque for album sales in 2016. Even more interesting? Islah currently sits at No. 19 on the album chart, giving Kevin Gates, a great rapper who found himself left on the sidelines some years ago on Cash Money with two top 20 albums.

How is Kevin Gates, someone who just cracked radio with the August Alsina featured “I Don’t Get Tired” in 2014 and doubled back with two more potent singles in “Really Really” and the now ubiquitous “2 Phones” doing this? With as little fanfare as possible? It’s all in how Gates moves. He’s constantly on the road, touring and pushing out material to fans. Aside from the rather peculiar incident with a female fan in Florida back in 2015, he’s kept his name relatively clean in the headlines. His fan base, just as cultish as that of fellow Baton Rouge king Boosie Badazz by being himself. Drug talk takes on a sometimes macabre and even fascinating weave. His fixation on shouting the praises of eating girl’s asses during sex has led to some laughable yet sincere moments on wax when he has to do so.

Even as Islah matches Gates’ storytelling sensibilities with that of a big budget rap album thanks to Atlantic Records, it’s still him at the core. Gates is a clear example that fan bases, those of the non-fickle kind will support their favorites, especially those that seem to have the type of charisma Gates does. Atlantic has allowed him to slow build on radio while he gets to maintain a bit of mid-level panache (banking off touring and a consistent social media presence). Future, operating with the kind of work ethic that makes him a beloved figure in today’s circles doesn’t have an album sitting in the Top 50 on Billboard.

Kevin Gates is an outlier — and you can’t really deny it.