It seems like a million years ago when Hip-Hop purist and crotchety New York rappers and DJ’s refused to acknowledge the South as a legitimate source of authentic representations of the art form. Yet it’s only been 7 years since disgruntled Texas legend Pimp C had a bone to pick with people still failing to give props to the region he and his peers hand to work twice as hard to put on the map because their city slickin’ peers didn’t want to grant their country cousins a seat at the table.
Meridian, Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T. seems to be the 2014 living incarnation of these bars. Krizzle is unabashedly southern, and while his music does contain the stereotypical Southern tropes of big cars, big asses and big speakers wrapped in hi-hats and a gruff drawl, K.R.I.T. is much more than that. He indeed has much more to say. For every “Money On The Floor”, there’s “Another Naïve Individual Glorifying Greed & Encouraging Racism” (hopefully you caught that). K.R.I.T. is as comfortable spitting about stealing weak dude’s women as he is analyzing why material possessions don’t equate to happiness, and the stress that causes a person trying to navigate this warped and nonsensical reality.
That fine intertwining of ratchetness and consciousness was evident on his critically acclaimed 2012 Def Jam debut Live From The Underground. Unfortunately it was largely slept on as it failed to even sell 100,000 copies. K.R.I.T. looks to rebound with his sophomore offering Cadillactica. Will it thrust him into the mainstream, or will he still be on this outside looking in? Read and find out.
1. Kreation (Intro) Produced by Big K.R.I.T.
We start out with a woman asking K.R.I.T. to create something, with Krizzle telling her that he’s not ready, yet he cedes to her constant asking and we kick things off. The beat is minimal and spacey. The hook lets us know that K.R.I.T. is in no rush to move faster than his syrupy drawl, and he softly spits, “let’s just take our time, pretend like we started this/pretend like we are creation, pretend like it’s all on us, to be perfect…”. Clearly he’s staking a lot into this album and wants to take his time. The intro does it’s job of pulling you in. Brace yourself, this feels like something special.
2. Life Produced by Big K.R.I.T.
We carry the spacey them from the intro, but we get synthes and some chanting as K.R.I.T. bellows that through all the up’s and downs he’s found the true meaning of life and won’t stop striving to reach his goals. The wailing behind his voice in the chorus adds gravity to his words. You’ll have no problem feeling K.R.I.T.’s hunger, you may even be able to feel his scars. Krizzle is making a statement here.
3. My Sub. Pt. 3 (Bang, Bang) Produced by Big K.R.I.T.
As much as Krizzle likes to defy the stereotypical Southern rapper tropes, he can’t help but give you some ignorant fun. K.R.I.T., like his southern brethren, can’t help but show some love to his ride and his system. The third entry of “My Sub” doesn’t eclipse the first installment, only because he probably afford the clearance of a sample to rival the sample used as an outro to that one, but he definitely improves upon Pt. 2 that was on Live From The Underground. While this isn’t as story focused as the other two entries in the series, lines like “when my trunk speak bitch ya betta speak”, and “I can barely feel my face but I hit em wit the base” resonate with anyone feeling themselves in their ride. The song transitions at the end and K.R.I.T. gets somber as he just hopes that the cops won’t pull him over for his system being too loud. Perfect riding music.
4. Cadillactica Produced by DJ Dahi & DJ Khalil
The second single from the album. The beat goes back to that airy, futuristic sound that the first two tracks had, adding an electric guitar and a drum loop. Krizzle just straight SPAZZES out here. I’ll let the man himself take over here, as I can’t do his words justice describing them to you:
Uh, what you think a real nigga rap for?
So I can roll around with a nympho? Yessir
Twenty five lighters on my dresser, the best of
Versace, Versace, Versace, my bezel
The bass and the treble will beat, ho
Komodo with the .44 when creeping, slow
I pull up on the high side, God give me high five
Every time I holla, ” I thank you Lawd”
Jesus please, don’t let the jackers take what’s mine
Hate to have to black out reason to dance to the Lac ‘fore they act right
Cause a nigga act like I’ma just back down
And I’ma put some vogues on these toes bitch
I blew the back out the trunk with the fifth wheel slump
It’s some neon that’s red, that’s my old shit
But this some cold shit
That my granddaddy wish he could have drove then passed down
So in honor of Zebby, I bring a ho down like a levee
When I slab ’round in this glass house
See, in the end it was easy pimpin’ ‘fore you even finished
Big K.R.I.T. is taking no prisoners and shooting to kill every time he touches the mic. Hopefully he can keep the momentum up for the rest of the album.
5. Soul Food Featuring & Produced by Raphael Saadiq
Just as I asked if K.R.I.T. could keep up the blistering pace he had set, he slows it down on this track. We get a more boom-bap approach to the beat, which is fitting as K.R.I.T. tries to remember simpler times. Raphael Saadiq pulls double duty on the hook and the boards, and crafts a solid offering. K.R.I.T. has some impressively dense bars here, like “Out of view, could’ve been a track star at the school/But it took the police just to get that .44 out of you” show that the self-proclaimed kuntry bumpkin isn’t as dim as he may appear to be. While the concept may be cliché, it’s a go to in Hip-Hop, and Krizzle shows that he’s a student of the game that can pull it off without sounding tired. This is the third single from the album.
6. Pay Attention Featuring Rico Love, Produced by Jim Jonson, Rico Love, Finatek, & Zac
This is the first single from the album. This one is straight for the strippers, or shoe models as we call them here. While it’s always great to see some fasted pace booty acrobatics, it’s the slower paced songs after you’re feeling your drinks and in the zone that are best as the women go from performers to sultry seducers. K.R.I.T. lives to make music like this and this song is no exception. It’s slow but the 808s keep it interesting. Rico Love sounds great on the hook, saying that even though he brought a lot of money to the club only one girl deserves to get it. Hopefully Maliah has this in her set playlist when she goes on stage.
7. King of The South Produced by Big K.R.I.T.
It’s only right that the King Remembered In Time would lay claim to the title of “King of The South”. At first glance one might be a diss towards T.I. However, it’s more so Krizzle staking his claim to being the epitome of a Southerner. The Meredian, MS rapper doesn’t skip a chance to let you know where he’s from and what he’s about, and that’s the vein that this song comes in. This song feels like a nice shot in arm after the slow sultriness of the previous song. A really solid song.
8. Mind Control Featuring E-40 & Wiz Khalifa; Produced by Big K.R.I.T.
K.R.I.T. goes to the Left Coast for this track. He’s hooked up with Wiz before, but going to the veteran 40 Water is a fresh match. While I feel like pretty much any E-40 appearance is just an excuse for him to teach us his specialized vernacular, I don’t mind him on this song. And although I’m not much of a Wiz fan either Krizzle’s beats always inspire him to try a little harder on his shit talking and bragging. The real highlight is the chorus. The out of space pimpage here sounds like it was pulled straight from ATLiens. Somewhere a certain multi-platinum duo is nodding their heads in approval.
9. Standby (Interlude) Produced by Big K.R.I.T.
Krizzle uses the jazzy horns from King Remembered In Time‘s “Banana Clip Theory” for a minute and a half short story. He talks about navigating a dog eat dog world and trying to catch up with a complicated woman. Interesting song that could’ve easily been a song, but at least it has me interested in the next song.
10. Do You Love Me Featuring Mara Hruby; Produced by Big K.R.I.T.
If “Mind Controlled” channeled Outkast, then “Do You Love Me” reminds you of Z-Ro when the drank doesn’t have him too paranoid. Krizzle’s crooning sounds like the underground legend almost to a tee. Historically, using the car-as-a-woman metaphor has had mixed results (Horrible- R. Kelly’s “You Remind Me Of Something”. Ok- UGK’s “Chrome Plated Woman”). K.R.I.T. avoids the pitfalls of the former and far surpasses the former. The smooth beat is hypnotic and the beat is super smooth as Krizzle sing-song raps about his dealings with a promiscuous woman. K.R.I.T. is tried a few different styles on this album and he’s knocked it out the park each time. This isn’t any different.
11. Third Eye Produced by DJ Dahi
Big K.R.I.T. relinquishes the boards again and lets DJ Dahi to lace him with something that the Native Tongues would spit to back in the early 90’s. That’s not to say that the production sounds dated, but the first word that comes to mind is “conscious”. Maybe that’s because of the title. My “stay woke” folks will dig the title, as K.R.I.T. is in awe of a woman. While everyone makes songs for the ladies this is different as K.R.I.T. talks about seeing past her physical and wanting to go deeper with her:
To be honest this is all new to me
Cause I ain’t never know a third eye that I could see
Perhaps you’re not in a space you’re really supposed to be
We all hit the club from time to time to be set free
So, I won’t judge if you won’t judge
I think we both agree that this ain’t the place for love
But I’ve known you in my past life somewhere, somehow
Stars aligned and brought us here, with no doubt
It’d be a lie if I didn’t say you were something classic, far from average
I apologize if I’m oh so ol’ fashioned
But I’m passionate about your passions
More intrigued with your mind
And your ass and your assets
I’m asking how you feel
If I told you that I knew Heaven was real
Cause only God could create something that gives me chills
So angelic and so surreal, I’m being sincere that
As more and more women start dismantling patriarchy and the misogyny that comes with it fellas are gonna have to come different in their approach. I appreciate that K.R.I.T. didn’t do the cookie cutter, spend a lot of money on you love song. Once again Krizzle flexes his depth on this one.
12. Mo Betta Cool Featuring Devin The Dude, Bun B, & Big Sant; Produced by Big K.R.I.T.
K.R.I.T. comes back on production and enlists two Southern legends and his homey to take us back to Earth as the last track had us amidst in the cosmos. Devin sounds like his usually cannabis-cool self as croons on the hook about coming from nothing to something. Again, this isn’t new territory as the rags to riches stories are standard, but this group makes it feel authentic. Maybe it’s because they all have a chip on their shoulder. K.R.I.T. and Sant are still trying to become more than regional acts with internet approval, and Devin The Dude and Bun B should rightly be much bigger stars than they are, even if Bun did get acceptance WAY later in his career. The bluesy horns add an extra touch to this everyman pat on the back.
13. Angels Produced by Terrance Martin “I think angels get high”. That’s one hell of a statement. This is the hook as K.R.I.T tries to make sense of people’s addiction and lack of hope from where he’s from. Being from the most poverty stricken state in the country definitely adds credence to his question. Check out the vivid picture he paints here:
Standing on the roof while helicopters swoop by
I think they don’t see us
Not even FEMA could redeem the very faith we all lost
That made us once believers
Natural disasters make us closer
My partner never prayed until he thought the world was over
2012, December 1st, he called me in a panic
He heard a storm was coming and it might destroy the planet, dammit
While there may not be a dearth of multi-syllable words in K.R.I.T.’s raps, I think it would be a disservice to say the man is simple as he knows how to paint a vivid picture with his words. Coming into the home stretch and Krizzle is still going strong.
14. Saturdays = Celebration Featuring Jamie N Commons; Produced by Big K.R.I.T. & Alex Da Kid
Leave it to Big K.R.I.T. to get a white Blues singer from London to add some soul to his track. On Live From The Underground it was BB King. Now it’s from Jamie N Commons. The song is definitely folksy and oozes Southern heritage. Here Krizzle talks about not caring about life’s trials and tribulations as long as he knows he’s lived the best life he could to the fullest extent possible. Again another risk that could have blew up in his face, but was worth it to add something that you won’t find on other people’s albums.
15. Lost Generation Featuring Lupe Fiasco; Produced by Big K.R.I.T.
The last track of the album finds the woman from the intro telling K.R.I.T. she wishes they could stay to see the fruition of their creation. Krizzle tells her that it has to grow on it’s own and let it find it’s way. After some somber guitar licks he goes into the hook and back to his rapid fire flow. There are some ominous piano keys and then the song picks up as K.R.I.T. talks about the current ills of society. Lupe Fiasco comes through and sounds more grounded than out there as his critiques of society sound real and not drug inspired rambling. After Lupe’s verse the album we get the hook again and we’re done. The trip to Cadillactica is over.
Let me pull back the curtain a little bit for you guys. I personally asked the boss man B-Easy if I could review this album. The album came out November 11th and I told him I’d have it to him by the 13th. This review is being posted on Wednesday November 19th. I missed my deadline.
I didn’t want to turn this review in. If you actually read this review in it’s entirety then you know I really enjoyed the album. A LOT. A lot of folks give the current music scene a hard time because most of these guys get by on hot beats and hooks that make good punch lines for Vine videos. I actually like a lot of that stuff because I find it funny. The beats move me and I’m entertained.
Yet I’m entertained in a way that’s the same as watching a funny movie. Not in an artistic sense. When I played Cadillactica I was moved. I got chills when I heard K.R.I.T. kill the title track. This is the feelings that old head Hip-Hop purists talk about not being evident in today’s crop of (mostly) here today, gone tomorrow rappers.
I struggled with grading this album. Was it really THAT good, or was I being biased? I know we have a tendency to throw around the term classic or 5 star because we want to validate our love or like for something. To be sure, it’s okay to like something and for something to have merit, yet it not be a classic.
However, when I looked up the word classic in the dictionary (cliché, I know) the definition that stood out the most was enduring. If 100 years from know aliens haven’t taken over and wiped out every trace of our existence you could look back to this album as a standard, not only for a Southern Rap album, but a Hip-Hop album. It’s not bloated with filler, there aren’t a million guest rappers on it, and K.R.I.T. doesn’t take a break and delivers on every song. Even if you’re not a fan of K.R.I.T., (and this album may or may not make you a fan) if you gave it an honest spin you wouldn’t be able to deny him. K.R.I.T’s blood, sweat, and tears beat through this album almost as hard as the 808s and high-hats. And for that…I give Cadillactica nappyafro’s third classic rating.