There’s no more room in the underground, nothing more to report live from, as K.R.I.T has crash landed into the world of the mainstream, as we learned at the beginning of his debut album Live From The Underground. What we were exposed to was an artist from the South that raps & produces the majority of his own music (along with soulful harmonizing). Taken from the influences of OutKast, UGK, and DJ Screw (along with a host of others, I’m sure), K.R.I.T brings that flavour from a southern rapper that isn’t as popular as the trap counterparts that has flooded the market with the likes of Migos, Gucci Mane, Young Thug, and various others. Being in-depth lyrically is something that people would take as a foreign concept when it comes to Southern rappers, but they are very much out there (Yes, J. Cole counts). Many consider Big K.R.I.T to be one of the voices of the new generations of Hip Hop, and that isn’t a farfetched statement, because hailing from Mississippi, the genuinely humble artist that K.R.I.T is, he emphasizes where the direction of Hip Hop should have never strayed away, and that was about keeping it true to the soil, and many knock him because of his country background, but then again…they said the same thing about OutKast when they were coming out – circles may be coming in full. Cadillactica reminded me of Stankonia basically because of the title, but with that approach to being that ‘outsider’ or ‘alien’ in the industry, it sets up what would appear to be an interesting storyline to push the album.
Like all things, everything starts off as a Kreation, and with the interstellar reference to planets and galaxies, or if you are a follower of Creationism, God creating everything and humans through his image. Kanye said it that we are all Gods, so it makes sense for K.R.I.T to take on the role of creating something perfect (the album) with delicacy and care like the Man above would do for all things (again, if that’s what you believe in).
“These hands of mine can hold the weight of planets
Allow me to use the hues of lunar cools to paint a canvas
Of explosions and vibrant emotions that we know we could
Explore the outer most with no risks
Even though we know we should”
Taking it to a new level of creativity is what an artist (if they push themselves enough) lives for, and off the bat, you can tell that there’s a continuation of that, but this is more like a prequel before he crash landed with his first album, which may still have that ‘underground’ feel that many would hope he would have.
There can’t be Life unless it’s created (sense the theme here) and what thinks to be starting off as a DJ Mustard beat, it doesn’t turn into one, thank God. Travelling through the course of life, we experience a lot of highs and lows, and in this case, travelling through space and time, K.R.I.T takes his time to reflect but also as he searches for something outside of his own zone he’s on a mission to still make the people he’s left proud. It’s essentially like when someone leaves the Hood to make something out of their lives but remains humble to never forget where they came from.
“I get paranoid swerving around these asteroids
Lord forbid I have to abort my mission
But it gets hard when you searching in the dark
For that one and only spark
I think I see what’s missing”
Life is about self-discovery and it’s a right message for the people who are going through challenges in their roads as well. It’s to endure, but when you find something to grasp onto, it’s necessary to take advantage of the opportunity presented. At the end of the song it goes into a lecture type of excerpt. This is something that K.R.I.T had implemented (or at least when I first heard it) on Return of 4Eva, and it lead seamlessly into My Sub 3. The ‘My Sub’ series has been one of my favourites because that’s where you get the knock that K.R.I.T delivers (there was also My Trunk but that wasn’t related). This time, he goes into teaching how the thunderous bass & 808s that the south is famous for started. The Big Bang is the theory of how the universe was started; the 808 can be said for the same on how an alternative music universe was laid out. I like the scientific symbolism (I’m a nerd, I can’t help it)
“This is how it all started way back
First the boomin’ voice then the bass crack, 808
And that’s when we first started fire
Cause the speakers wasn’t grounded and he fried all the wires”
There’s no denying that this track has the makings to do some damage in a club setting, especially how it starts off with the “TWO FIFTEENS!” That’s very chant worthy, and on tour, you know this will get the people rowdy. Just when you think it’s over, the beat switches up and it’s crazy how it just flips but kept that consistent knock throughout. I think it’s important for people to know about just where the sound came from, and not just because Kanye West ‘re-birthed’ the love of 808s after 808s & Heartbreaks. It felt very Southern in the approach so I was here for it. High on the replay value chart.
The title track, Cadillactica, serves as the theme song to the fictional planet that K.R.I.T derives from, and DJ Dahi being the man that he is when it comes to delivering the source for bangers, he doesn’t fail this time around. The hook alone is another one that gets you hype and will send fans into a frenzy, but that hard on aggressive nature in K.R.I.T really hasn’t been heard often, and he kills it here. It has to be let known that he’s not here for the foolishness, and also the Cadillac is the source of what ‘drives’ (no pun) the motivation behind his goals to be achieved. I won’t lie, I’ve heard a lot about his love of cars a lot if you go back to his previous work, but that’s a Southern lifestyle and I can’t knock that. It’s not a valued thing up here as much, so all the slabs, grills, popped trunks, and riding clean references you want? K.R.I.T gives. K.R.I.T keeps it real and humble and the purpose of him being an artist isn’t for the flash and fame, but rather for the storytelling of the Southern comfort that can appeal to not the absolute masses, but to fans who simply want the down-to-Earth lyrics that people can connect with in their own lives, and that’s why he’s been able to withstand moderate success today. But that doesn’t mean that he won’t puff his chest and not want to stunt a little bit. I mean when you come from the desolate and misfortune and ultimately flourish, you have to show some appreciation of that, and this is the track in which he does that.
There’s nothing quite like Soul Food, and especially since American Thanksgiving passed and Christmas is well in sight, there’s a lot of good eats to be had, but in a musical perspective, that good wholesome (seemingly) old school feeling of music warming your soul to make you feel good, hasn’t found its way to the pits of stomachs to warm the hearts. A lot of it is cold, greasy, sloppy, and very in-and-out like the popular fast food chain. That’s exactly what a lot of music has become – fast food. There’s no sit down and digest for hours on end, there’s just ‘here it is, take it, eat it, digest and get hungry in about an hour or 2 for something else’. It’s something that has grown to be a concern for certain artists that actually take pride in making timeless music, but the audience (us, we, the collective) are to blame because we hear something and want something new in an internet hour. That’s become the new norm, and because of that, we’re saturated with repetitive sounds that lack cohesive and well-detailed structure.
“Out here in this world, just tryna make it
Everything I see, sometimes I can’t take it
But damn I really miss those times
That soul food’s on my mind”
First thing’s first, I don’t know where Raphael Saadiq came from, but he was definitely a surprise to hear on the album, and it’s good to know that the older heads are recognizing just which new talent is leading the culture from the front. Always a good look. Secondly, I like this song for the reason being that K.R.I.T touches on just what’s wrong with us as younger people today in comparison to how our parents and even grandparents were raised when it came to decent & genuine love for each other, but also a time where we just had fun – oh right, we were kids and didn’t have to take upon adult responsibilities. We seem to have forgotten the ways of what worked in the past and instead focused on too many minor details to take us away from generally finding a considerable chance of happiness.
“It ain’t ripe, it ain’t right
That’s why most people don’t make love no more
They just fuck and they fight
What happened to the stay-togethers?
Yeah, I’m with you. And that means forever
Grandparents had that kind of bond
But now we on some other shit
Nah, we ain’t got no rubbers here
I know she creepin’ so that ain’t my son
Apples fall off of trees and roll down hills
We can’t play games no more cause we got bills
Back in the day, the yard was oh so filled
Now nobody comes around here”
My Grandparents are the prime example to me when it comes to showing how dope love can be when you’re with the right person, but it was simple. There wasn’t any advanced technology to get in the way of ‘overthinking’ or ‘over-complicating’ a situation. There was basic communication and whatever they went through, they went through together. That’s what I admired, and as much as the new age of romanticism has taken over, that’s still something I want to implement into my own habits. It’s not supposed to be a complicated scenario. People just like it to be. The way things were, they seem to have came and went with no explanation, and us 20-somethings and early 30-year olds have no idea to explain just how to get it back, but there are strives being made to reclaim that soulful feeling that once held us over. This is one of the better songs that K.R.I.T has made and definitely a favourite of mine on the album. Simple yet effective.
Alright, so Pay Attention was the first single of the album and when it came out I definitely wasn’t feeling it. I listened to it a few more times, and I still didn’t like it. All up until now, I still think it should have been left off as a Bonus (at best) or just a throwaway, because it didn’t serve any purpose for me per say. K.R.I.T has those smooth tracks for the ladies that I appreciate (Insomnia is the first one that comes to mind), but you can tell that this is a single that seemed to have been manufactured by a label head and this was what was spewed out. For one, I’m not for the beat at all. It’s plain and the flow that rides with it sounds uninspired and dull. It’s a radio single, and that’s fine, but there were other songs on this album that would have been better suited for taking its place.
This album has a similar feel compared to his debut, but with enhanced production because, although he did produce the majority, he stepped out of his comfort zone and allowed outside producers to allow him to try something new. That’s the biggest thing I noticed when it came to listening to this album, and something that people should take notice. He has his own style, but doesn’t hesitate to jump on something different and rip (i.e., his 1 Train verse). King of the South exclaims his boastful confidence as the next one to take the crown and sit atop the throne. Re-establishing his Mississippi roots, I think it’s important to understand that, there’s a very depressing and violent history that spawned the Blues, but at the same time when you get that aggression that comes out of rappers from the Deep South, that’s a part of them, and K.R.I.T embodies that in his music, which is why you get that balance of subtle soul and overpowering aggression.
“Ain’t no love in the coliseum
This shit here been a bloodsport
Keep what you kill, fuck if they live
Cause everybody out here cutthroat
I’ve been quietly waitin’
Deep in my dungeon, my stomach was rumblin’, my belly was achin’
Everybody wanna see a monster
Till they see the monster, the monster holla out, ‘What’s shakin’?’”
When the infamous Control track dropped and Kendrick’s name drop notable verse rang out, K.R.I.T was one of the first rappers to drop a tweet to slowly fuel the fire that he now spews out on the album. It’s like it took one verse for people to wake up out of their mediocrity and actually go back to writing something concrete. Should thank him for that, because some good music has come out (rather slowly) and has had some lasting impressions.
“This is Gladiator Shit”…Gotta give the people what they want .
— Big K.R.I.T. (@BIGKRIT) August 13, 2013
I was more so excited to hear Wiz Khalifa on Mind Control more than E-40 because of the greatness that is still Glass House from Kush & OJ. Smooth beat and all, Wiz was surprisingly in a right frame of mind (given all of the stuff he’s going through) and dropped a quality verse. E-40 was always that one guy that never grew on to me, no matter how many albums he put out (and sometimes he put out like 6 a year). The beat for this track reminded me of Time Machine a little bit, but then again a lot of K.R.I.T’s beats have similar style (not to knock him) but that one track came to mind right off the bat. It’s groovy, it has that significant bounce, and the hook? Come on. Can’t go wrong.
The saxophone at the beginning of Standby had me thinking that Banana Clip Theory was about to start, but instead it was an interlude that walks the line of spoken word poetry and rap, which he pretty much did on WTF (from the K.R.I.T mixtape, if you’re unfamiliar). Metaphorically, on his journey, he notices changes and the struggles that are encountered from his driver’s seat point of view. K.R.I.T really had some lines on this interlude that you probably wouldn’t have caught on the first listen, and that’s the underrated quality about him. He spits the real struggle that many can relate to, but he’s poetic with it where some people would think he’s a simple bar rapper. Au contraire mes amis.
“Crash landed in the worst place
I guess for some folk, everyday ain’t they birthday
We ain’t talkin’ car if we asking mercy
You think she wanna fuck? What if she really thirsty?
Holy water, mama daughter
I keep a shoulder
For them to cry on
Cause even the strong need someone to rely on
In these turbulent times, we got to fly on”
K.R.I.T gets dismissed a lot because of his country accent (to which I call bullshit, because people love Young Thug but can’t understand about 75% of the lyrics he spews out) and also because he’s one that has a positive tone to his music a good majority of the time. It’s s shame little things like that get you written off, but I do understand that the subject matter and flow doesn’t often change with him. Is it always something to defend? No, because there were times even I was like “okay, what else do you have” and that’s where artistically one would have to grow so you’re not caught in repetitive phase. But then again, if it ain’t broke, no need for fixing, and originality is something that has been lacking. This is K.R.I.T in his element as he empathizes with those less fortunate and tells the listeners examples of someone who may happen to be in their shoes to give someone a bit of strength while going through a personal struggle. Short, sweet, and effective.
K.R.I.T really keeps to himself, because I had no idea in my mind that he had a girlfriend (singer Mara Hruby), which she makes an appearance on Do You Love Me, and in the soulful ballad that’s symbolically dedicated to his car in the process. I feel like on almost every K.R.I.T project, he’s had a track like this where it’s like a deep song that’s related to a car but womanized (as a majority of male car owners do name their cars after women). Rotation, Me & My Old School, and one I’ve mentioned earlier, Time Machine are standouts that I can pit in this conversation, and funny enough he has compared a Cadillac to a spaceship, and in this album’s case – that would be accurate.
I remember being at work and I was whistling the hook of Third Eye because it’s so damn catchy. This is like the turning down of the album, much like Live From the Underground had a symmetrical layout. The theme of using your third eye has been increasingly popular over the years, which many rappers have taken the conscious route of acknowledging throughout their songs (Jay Electronica, Common, Ab-Soul, Joey Bada$$ to name a few). The 3rd eye is said to have been located right in between the two that you have now and is the ‘source’ of your consciousness which grants you the ability to see beyond your regular sight. It’s a very spiritual reference, but how it relates to the song is that K.R.I.T can see a woman’s consciousness or aura from across the room in a club. He thinks he’s found the one. Must be nice.
“I hate to rap and live life all alone
And I know this world is full of so many clones
But you original in your aura, it’s sort of
Radiant and I can’t ignore it
So, I don’t wanna buy you no drank
Besides, I think you’d rather smoke your dank
And that’s cool
I know you came with your friends
So you choose
If you wanna share your vibe, it’s on you”
I would totally use this part of the 1st verse to see if a woman would fall for it, because this is on that poetic level of profession, but I doubt it would go over smoothly. It’s an elongated way to ask a woman if it’s cool with him to share his space and make nice, given that he walked across a busy club to say something in the first place. At least give him the time of day and entertain the conversation, right? A lot of women may (and will) see this as creepy and not so much romantic, but it happens to them about 18 times a week, so can’t expect to be that one exception, fellas. I like the fact that K.R.I.T breaks it down to the woman that he’s not into the physical, but rather the personal, emotional, and intellectual level that one would want in someone that they foresee spending (god willingly) their whole life with. It’s pretty important to establish that (it takes a while, mind you) and K.R.I.T strung together some words that were well polished. DJ Dahi on the beat would make sense as to why I can’t get this song out of my head, and another reason why it’s one of my favourites on the album.
Mo Better Mo Cool is still laid back, but with a little tempo. The Barry White’s I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby adds the smooth that Barry delivered for so many years. With a Southern flavor added with features by Devin The Dude, Bun B, and the return of Big Sant making his usual K.R.I.T project appearance, this is definitely a dope track to take it towards the end of the album. It’s like a Player’s Club atmosphere has been created and you need to sip some expensive liquor and smoke an equally or more expensive cigar. It just has that vibe. I like when K.R.I.T approaches the track with that boastful confidence. He’s a generally humble guy (I’ve met him enough to make that assessment) so when he gets on his stunt and bragging a little bit, it’s nice to hear. Flourish, young man. Flourish. Bun B is a legend and I didn’t come up as a UGK fan at all, but you have to respect the fact that one of the original Underground Kings still reaches out and helps the young cats out as he’s done for a while now.
It’s funny how I was just having a conversation about Angels and if a friend of mine believed in them. When it rains, people often say that that’s the Angels’ or God’s tears, or when it’s a loud thunder crash, it’s the Angels bowling in the heavens. Stuff like that when you’re growing up as a little kid, but you still get ideas sometimes, depending on how spiritual you are. Spirituality is a staple when it comes to K.R.I.T’s repertoire and it’s put on display here, but he also ties in the certainty of doubt and as we all do, we point to spiritual beings to being the reasons to explain why we’re going through such trying times.
“Thunderstorms forever form outside my home
I swear these angels taking bong hits
I wonder if that flood that came through just because that left us on the curb was one of God’s tears
To wash away the pain that we had
The house wasn’t much, the neighborhood was bad
The basement won’t save us but the prayers get us past
The rumbling and the thundering never last”
I too have questioned (at the times) why my life was going through so much turmoil, but it ended up motivating me and building my mental and emotional strength. We all have those days where it seems like a metaphorical raincloud follows us around constantly but like all storms, they end.
This album is long as hell and it didn’t have to be, to be quite honest. Whereas there are good songs, I didn’t think 15 tracks (17 or 18 if you have a certain deluxe) were needed. 12 to 13 would have done the trick, because at this point it feels like it’s being dragged on (keep in mind, LFTU was 16 tracks itself). The hook for Saturday = Celebration sounded like a spin off of Wyclef Jean’s acoustic performance of If I Was President, which he performed on Chappelle’s Show. I had a dream that I died and had somewhat of a glimpse into what happened, when it happens (at age 29) but also what the afterlife looks like. It was me strolling through various locations of time roaming through my memories. It was pretty creepy, but how that’s relevant to the song is that it again deals with the events that death sneaks up around the corner and takes him away. Obviously it isn’t the wish to pass on early in life, but the assurance that K.R.I.T leaves for his mother is one that he won’t stray far from who he is, possibly in relation to who he is as a person & artist. He also doesn’t want tears to mourn him, yet his life is to be celebrated, as life should be (but it’s still a sad time to have someone go before they have to). This song is on some Kanye West inspired Lost In The World-esque dramatics, and if this was the ending of the album, it would have been perfect, given that there was an extended ending for the song. But no, there’s one more.
For the last track (seems like it was never going to come) Lost Generation takes an interesting approach to looking at the current state of music listeners and both K.R.I.T & Lupe in their own ways essentially mock the new generation based on what the popular trends are and that the live fast, die young approach is one that’s continuous as long as the messages being promoted in today’s rap encourage that lifestyle.
“This ain’t meant to be preached on
This here meant to be teached on
I know that you ain’t got much time
I promise this rhyme won’t take long
You need it in your life like you need a better job
Like you need another hobby
Instead of waiting in the lobby, with the soft and the hard
Until the police holla copy, freeze”
In the internet age of listeners, their attention span is supremely high and not that tolerant, so to be preached to consciously and having to sit down and be ‘taught’ is something that nobody seems to have time for, so K.R.I.T pokes fun at that, and also that the fast life of drug dealing isn’t the way although many see that as a viable resort to getting money fast because their favourite rapper does it. You may not want to be taught or have to sit through the words of a preacher, but what K.R.I.T is saying is that whether you like it or not, it’s essential to growth. Lupe went on a different tangent, as he always does, and he throws away the positives to portray the negatives because that’s all everything is promoted and what this ‘Lost generation’ seems to only care about, since it’s all that they hear.
“They ain’t listening to us
They ain’t playing this bitch in the club
So let’s get paid, turn these motherfuckers into slaves
School is for lames, man, these niggas join gangs
Fuck Martin Luther King, nigga, fuck change
Fuck peace, I want chains”
The ironic verse puts it into perspective on just what today’s modern rappers care about, and that there’s ‘no room’ for positive influences and their lyrical depth and context. It’s been a battle for years, and with the growing support of the Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and other victims of police brutality become more vocal, the mindset could change to become unified, but that’s probably asking a lot. People need to go back to understanding that there’s a balance between entertainment and enlightenment. Seems like the enlightened became left out.
This album felt longer than the first, and while K.R.I.T is one of the better younger rappers out to represent this newer generation, I still feel like it could have been shaved down by 2 or 3 songs. The production was at times much of the same, but getting outside producers like DJ Dahi and Terrace Martin to contribute to the album certainly did much to build his growth, sonically. The bangers are there, the soul is there, and as this served as the prequel (before the crash landing on the first album) it added to the creativity of K.R.I.T’s world all from the inspiration of a Cadillac. He approached this album with much more confidence and not just a rapper who’s just grateful to be where he’s at. He’s coming to prove that he’s one of the best out, and he’ll definitely be getting a lot of attention to come from this nice addition to his impressive body of work thus far. One of the best Hip Hop albums to come out this year, I can say that definitely, so I’d recommend you checking it out (buying it as well). But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review
That’s My Word & It STiXX