After all the years of hits, why is Big K.R.I.T. still so slept on?
Although Big K.R.I.T. has already released seven projects prior — including 2010’s K.R.I.T Wuz Here, which garnered him national acclaim — it wasn’t until his 2011 mixtape Return of 4Eva, that made everyone see K.R.I.T. as a force with the potential to give hip-hop a new voice.
Tom Breihann of Pitchfork praised it as one of the finest rap releases of 2011. Ketchum III of HipHopDX reached the DX consensus of “Free Album” — (the highest possible praise for a mixtape) and Slant magazine crowned it the rap album to beat in 2011.
K.R.I.T. had just signed with Def Jam in 2010 as well as gracing the cover of 2011 XXL ‘Freshman’ cover issue where he stood shoulder to shoulder with Meek Mill, YG, Mac Miller, and Kendrick Lamar.
Yet, since that cover issue, K.R.I.T. has not seen the same looks, placements, features, or even props that his classmates have been afforded.
We’re not talking about an industry plant or someone that got on based off co-signs. Big K.R.I.T. is a dual threat: he’s just as talented a producer as he is a rapper. His penchant for soul samples is only matched by his dedication to mastering the craft. He’s no joke.
Here he is playing Rhyme Roulette, a game where you’re asked to pick three records blindfolded, then tasked to make a beat out of them on spot, just to give context of how cold he is.
Not to mention he can straight up go bar for bar with literally whoever you can think of. At the BET cypher back in 2016, people were shocked at his performance as if he hasn’t been delivering top-shelf quality lyrics his entire career.
Comparisons to UGK’s Pimp C, T.I., and even Outkast, off the bat, put K.R.I.T in a rare space for Southern rappers, especially seeing that the south was already on smash with the amount of talent pouring out of Atlanta.
He was given the respect of a next great but when you see his representation compared to what he offers, there was always a disconnect.
So what is it, the sales?
His first studio album, Live From The Underground, which was under Def Jam, didn’t sell that well but his second studio album Cadillactica did alright. It hit No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart upon its debut, even peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard 200.
That’s after he felt like his “album was under shipped,” according to a tweet. The project moved 44,000 units in first-week sales (his best week ever), according to Nielsen SoundScan.
But in 2014, Def Jam dropped him anyway.
The newly-independent rapper explained on Sway’s Universe last year what that process was like after announcing the news of the separation from the label on Twitter, releasing a series of twelve freestyles in twelve hours, dubbed #12For12 in honor of his new independence.
“When you young all you want to do is be on the radio and all you want to do is get a contract, get a deal. But once you get those things, you normally don’t realize what’s next. The next step. Me, I had the kind of team and people around me that didn’t mind telling me the game. I graduated from being just a rapper to understanding production and understanding my worth and how those are separate entities. And I graduated from that to MULTI, the branding of such. And then becoming a businessman. Now, understanding my worth, partnerships, not necessarily just signing as a rapper because I bring more to the table. I know how to direct the artist to the right records, how to produce, put them in the right space and help them create their narrative and be comfortable with it.”
That’s when it dawned on me, it’s those exact sentiments — that worth, understanding of the industry and newfound purpose — that has kept K.R.I.T. from reaching the heights his talents deserve.
K.R.I.T. should occupy the spaces J. Cole, K.Dot and Big Sean do. His skills are on par. And his understanding of this fact is what has kept him going three years after that severance with Def Jam. Which brings us to his newest LP, New LP 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time.
4eva is a Mighty Long Time is a double album that enlists your Southern favorites like T.I., Ceelo Green, UGK, Bilal, Jill Scott, and more. K.R.I.T. shares production cred with names like Robert Glasper and others, and together they reinforce the elements that stood out from K.R.I.T. Wuz Here.
The album has everything you could ask for in project; just with a Southern flavor. If it’s drums you like, “Aux Chord” got you. Or maybe it’s rappity-rap, rap you prefer? Put “Big Bank” in rotation, K.R.I.T. and T.I. go at it. Even if it’s soul, “The Light” will hit that sweet spot for ya.
For a lot of people, it’s the Mississippi drawl that turns them off. For others, they give the J. Cole excuse: he’s boring.
To each their own, even Andre 3000 admitted not being on the pulse of rap’s current sound. But one thing’s for sure, it’s that there is no lack of talent coming from the down South spitter.