We live in a culture that’s violently allergic to consensus. Whether its politics, sports,...
DJBooth Album Review
We get to watch that love for conflict play out constantly in hip-hop. First, fans flock to an underrated emcee so they can yell about how underrated he is (ironically causing him to become overrated). This, of course, calls for a growing “no, he’s overrated” faction to rise up so they can yell at the people who think he’s underrated. And then, once the “no, he’s overrated” contingent has begun to win the war, things will come full circle and people will start to say, “I know everyone thinks he’s overrated, but he’s actually really dope.” Confused? Good, that means you’re truly feeling the mind-numbing complexity of a culture whose true national sport is argument.
And that’s what really makes Big K.R.I.T. so incredible. I literally don’t know a single person who’s listened, truly listened, to Krizza’s music and said, “naw, that dude sucks.” The belief that Big K.R.I.T. is dope is the closest thing hip-hop’s come to a consensus in recent memory. When his breakthrough album K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, dropped (exclusively via The DJBooth, pats self on back) expectations for the Mississippi representer reached almost impossible heights. And then, when he not only met but exceeded those expectations with his second album, Return of 4Eva, hip-hop nation collectively nodded its head and agreed to agree: K.R.I.T. was one of the best new things to happen to music in years.
Even with all that goodwill, there is a Jekyll to out Hyde that secretly, deep in the recesses of our hate trained hearts, that was secretly waiting for K.R.I.T.’s latest effort, 4EvaNaDay, to stumble even slightly. We were already picturing ourselves feeling cool, saying, “It’s dope, but it’s not as good as Return.” Now there will be those whose souls have been reduced to charcoal and will say it regardless, but the truth is the man’s improbably done it again. 4EvaNaDay is the early front-runner for free album of 2012, and the differences in quality between it and Return are either non-existent or so minor they’re really not worth mentioning.
Every K.R.I.T. album has had a title track, so there’s no better place to start than with 4EvaNaDay (Theme). True to its name, Theme encapsulates the combination of Southern swagger and universal soul that’s become his trademark. Countless producers flip soul samples into riding beats, but Krizza layers the beat so thickly and cleanly the instrumental takes on a life of its own, and on the microphone K.R.I.T. also manages to simultaneously boast and drop knowledge: “If you ain’t about your own people / what you raise your first for?” Similarly, lead single Boobie Miles continues his love of Friday Night Lights references (see the opening of Hometown Hero) and isn’t afraid to coast on a saxophone line and vocal harmonies that offer some real inspiration – “The only difference between a winner and a loser is a winner play until he wins” – while Wake Up flexes its conceptual muscles over a jazz-influenced beat and fearlessly honest bars that close with a phone call from his father. It is those small glimpses into his actual life that allow us to connect to his music so strongly, no matter where we’re from. How many other rappers are doing entire tracks dedicated to their recently passed grandmother like Yesterday?
If complaints are raised about 4Eva I’d guess they’d center around the album’s lack of more aggressively head nodding cuts like Return’s Sookie Now, My Sub and the Country Shit (Remix). While it’s true that 4EvaNaDay is a more mellow album than its predecessor it’s not so much a weakness as a shift in emphasis. The vintage-soaked 1986 is the closest the album comes to speeding but its more the exception than the rule on the album: whether it’s Me and My Old School, Country Rap Tunes or Temptation, 4Eva is built to cruise the boulevard to give the world a chance to soak in all its glory.
While hypnotically grooving cuts like 1986 give the album some kinetic energy, its openly personal touches like the relationship oriented Red Eye, the power to the people Down & Out and the aforementioned Yesterday that elevate K.R.I.T.’s albums above hip-hop’s constantly growing middle ground. At the risk of simply gushing positivity, K.R.I.T.’s created another album that will stand the test of time with 4EvaNaDay, and while I don’t want to get my hopes too high for his major label debut Live From the Underground, hopefully coming soon, the man’s surpassed all my expectations so far – why not again? I think we can all agree right now Big K.R.I.T.’s simply on another level.
DJBooth Rating - 4.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 03/7/12
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Cinematic Music Group/Def Jam
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"2000 & Beyond" (2010)
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