Long before Kevin Gates revealed his separation from his wife to the world on his “Super General” Freestyle, 35-year-old Dreka Gates made it abundantly clear that she has a vision for herself and her own life outside of their relationship.
“I just want people to know me as Dreka: this f*cking strong business-woman, this cool-ass mom,” she explained of her frustrations with only being known as “Kevin Gates’ wife” during a 2018 interview with HNHH.
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“I wanna be known as that person. An entrepreneur. I’m not a f*cking housewife. I definitely don’t sit at the f*cking house all day and get my hair and nails and makeup done and just walk around looking sexy [laughs]. I would love to live that life, but that’s not my life. Bitch, I f*cking work!”
Building from the Ground Up
Work, she does. A quick scroll through Dreka’s Instagram will show you just how entrepreneurial she is, from her newly-launched self-titled wellness brand and her work in the cannabis industry to her role as a mother of two – it’s no wonder that she didn’t bother to respond after Kevin dropped off his diss track earlier this month.
While she’s amassed a following of nearly three million on her own page now, before her man made it out the mud, Dreka had to hustle incredibly hard to earn respect from others in the industry, eventually allowing her to grow into a driving force behind Kevin’s success.
According to the businesswoman, her gender was half the battle. The other half? Not being familiar with the business.
“I basically spent a lot of time just trying to bump elbows with people in the industry. Try to learn how everything worked. But it was really, really hard because they didn’t respect me as a female, so I basically ended up hiring guys to sort of make these moves for me in the very beginning,” she recalled, adding that it felt as though information only came on a transactional basis.
Before he was a household name, Kevin gained an impressive following in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which Dreka also had a hand in building.
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“I would actually — believe it or not — get dressed up and go to these clubs and go around to all these different DJs and pay them to play Kevin’s music,” she admitted, also shouting out the local promoters she “got in with” who would book her man to perform.
Before he was selling out shows with ease, the I’m Him artist performed for small paychecks– as in, $250 – $500– while his wife handed out CDs to patrons at large events around them. According to her, it was around 2011 (as the 36-year-old was readying to return home from prison) when she felt as though they might have the potential to transcend Louisana and move on to bigger and better things.
“When he came home, we moved to Houston and we started doing some groundwork there. We went back to Louisiana, then we went to Atlanta, and it just kept growing.”
Revealing a key growth strategy for them, Dreka added, “One thing that he does, he goes to different cities and works with a local artist. That’s another way – you’re basically like stealing other people’s fans in a way [laughs], you know but it works.”
If you’re not familiar with the criminal history of Kevin Gates, he was first incarcerated for battery, though he was later moved to Illinois where he plead guilty to gun charges following the unexpected surfacing of an outstanding warrant.
While he was locked up, Dreka was entrusted with keeping his career going – more specifically, she actually put together his By Any Means 2 mixtape and a music video for “Imagine That” featuring their two children, Islah and Khaza; on top of that, she also recruited artists for their record label.
Image via HNHH
“It wasn’t like my first time,” she said of the curating experience. “By Any Means – the original one – was released in 2014 I believe, and he was in jail that time, so I had to help put that all together. That’s why we named this one By Any Means 2, ’cause it was just like the same f*cking situation: we just needed to put something out, he’s locked up.”
As for the making of the aforementioned visual, the mother of two shared, “We kind of had to improvise like, ‘Kevin’s not here, what are we gonna do?’ Islah was kind of like the next best thing. She loves her dad, she loves the song, so she had no problem with learning it for the video.”
Before he achieved mainstream success, those that weren’t closely following the career of the “2 Phones” artist were taken back by news of his Islah project going platinum. “It was definitely one hell of a feeling but it wasn’t that surprising,” Dreka recalled of the moment for her and her husband.
“I say that we have like a f*cking cult following. That’s another thing from day one: we’ve always toured. Even if there wasn’t that much money in it,” she added, also telling us about the 2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe that she and Kevin used to ride around in to commute to his performances in states like Arkansas and Oklahoma.
“We really put in the groundwork. The new, younger artists don’t do that today, and they don’t have to! They’re going straight to the consumer through social media and all that shit,” Dreka said, explaining how the effort she and Kevin were required to put in was far higher than what it takes to achieve the same accolades today, perhaps even more so now given the readiness of platforms like TikTok.
With their impending separation, the 35-year-old will likely be turning her business-savvy attitude toward her own pursuits, though it’s unlikely Kevin will ever forget how hard his girl went for him when he was just starting out.
“I’ve done it all. At the very beginning, I was the DJ at the shows, I was the booking agent, I was f*cking everything,” she said, praising herself for the wisdom she’s gained throughout her experiences, not failing to mention that they had reached a point where they could finally have a team of people working for them instead of hustling so hard themselves.
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Even musically, Dreka helped Kevin shine. “We’ll be in the studio, and I’ll say something he’ll take that and make it into a song. Or he’ll just ask me about something, and I’ll be like ‘You should say this instead of that or tweet this.’ I play a huge role in his career.”
“But he’s still very, very f*cking talented, and what you hear is him. I could never take that away from him. Something I could never do in a million years [laughs],” she applauded her then-partner.
With the rapper’s nearly featureless Khaza album quickly approaching, many fans are curious to see if he has any more Dreka disses in store after revealing that she cheated on him in a recent release, or if she’ll even address the messy situation herself.
Revisit Kevin Gates’ “Super General” Freestyle below, and check back in with HNHH this Friday (June 17) to stream the Louisana native’s highly anticipated third studio album.