Big K.R.I.T. Takes a Modern Look at His Roots with Album, K.R.I.T. IZ HERE
By Thomas Rodriguez
The South is a region of the U.S. that’s very much based on tradition: Sunday service, cookouts, and reverence for your elders all seem to be on the sleeves of many a rapper from the Southern region. Independent Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T. (Justin Scott) has consistently worn his Southern heritage like a badge of honor, his distinct accent delivering soulful outlooks on hip-hop, nostalgia, spirituality, and candy-painted Cadillacs.
Now, 9 years after the release of his breakthrough mixtape K.R.I.T Wuz Here, Mississippi’s home-state hero focuses his eyes on the horizons of his hometown and career with K.R.I.T IZ HERE.
The album kicks off spectacularly with the gospel-infused soul of “K.R.I.T Here,” establishing the in-the-moment nature of the record. K.R.I.T’s swagger is constant throughout the track, lacing fiery passion with empowering bars on freedom, advancement in today’s rap game, and “grinding” for family. This energy is easily Krizzle’s best weapon on the record, as every track has a level of earnestness that hits harder than the Southern sun in the summertime. “I Been Waiting” and “Believe” deliver the fiery motivation that only a Baptist pastor can deliver in a sermon, except now ,it’s delivered over an explosion of trap bombast and effective (albeit simplified) bars. The closest K.R.I.T. comes to faltering is when a tired flow hits his delivery in a negative way, as on the plodding rhyme structures of “Energy,” K.R.I.T succumbs to the trappings of a more popular veneer.
The modern aesthetic of K.R.I.T IZ HERE is immediately present on several songs based on the production and features. Much of the instrumental focus is based less on K.R.I.T’s soulful beat-making, but more on a modern pop/rap flair with a few Southern twists. Trap snares are usually present on the album’s 19 songs, dominating, for example, the angry “I Made” and the DJ Screw inspired “Learned from Texas.” Features from Lil Wayne and Saweetie on the club groove “Addiction” and J. Cole on the stellar “Prove It” keep the album fresh with other famous Southern faces. A few of the more low-key features are slightly lacking, though, noting the contrast between the great, aged beauty contributed by Baby Rose on “Everytime” and the horrendous vocals by Rico Love on “Obvious.”
Despite the modern sound of K.R.I.T. IZ HERE, there are a few slower moments that forgo the generic shtick of modern trap to touch upon K.R.I.T’s inner thoughts on his career. His alienation from the modern rap game is clearly apparent on the galactic imagery of “Outer Space,” while the conscious and chaotic imagery on the beautiful “Life in the Sun” shows that the Mississippi MC has managed to look to the future while acknowledging the problems of the present. While this general theme of Southern bliss vs. wider appeal occasionally troubles the album on a thematic or instrumental standpoint, it’s inclusion ultimately pays off. “M.I.S.S.I.S.S.I.P.P.I,” for example, proves that despite whatever direction K.R.I.T. heads in, he will always have country in his heart and the ability to craft tunes as wholesome and filling as a family barbecue.
Despite the clear directional shift that Big K.R.I.T. has taken on in K.R.I.T. IZ HERE, the album is far from a flop. Much of K.R.I.T’s soul and passion is delivered over mostly solid, if a bit generic, production. While the simplified formula may not settle with the most die hard K.R.I.T. fans, it’s only a stepping stone for which K.R.I.T. can take to achieve the hip-hop status he deserves; he is, after all, the King Remembered In Time.