Big K.R.I.T. - ReturnOf4Eva

Posted March 31, 2011
Tags: Big K.R.I.T.,

Hip-hop fans, more than the fans of any other genre, are a cynical bunch. In 1979 the original...

ReturnOf4Eva Album Review

Hip-hop fans, more than the fans of any other genre, are a cynical bunch. In 1979 the original emcees were convinced that simply recording rhymes would kill their culture, in 1989 the emergence of Vanilla Ice was surely the art form’s death knoll, in 1999 the rise of Master P and Cash Money’s brand of hip-hop was the end of lyrical rap and in 2009 hip-hop nation, including Nas, was convinced ringtones signaled the death of the culture. And yet, throughout all the hand-wringing and doomsaying, hip-hop has continued to produce classic, quality music (alongside its fair share of disposable crap). In fact, if you’re a true lover of hip-hop, there may not be better story to wipe away your cynicism than Big K.R.I.T.

In a hit-single driven age where labels use and dispose of new artists faster than Wiz Khalifa goes through rolling papers, in just the span of a year Big K.R.I.T. has gone from off the map (Meridian, Miss.) to one of Southern hip-hop’s brightest hopes based solely on dope music. That’s it. No gimmicks, no catchy singles, no dance moves, six-pack abs or major artist co-signs. He simply worked incredibly hard, put out his previous mixalbum K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (via DJBooth…shameless plug), people heard it, it was dope as f**k and he got signed to Def Jam. Of course that signing produced yet another round of anxiety in hip-hop heads sure that a major label would turn Krizza into a cookie cutter. Well, if new mixalbum ReturnOf4Eva is any indication, we can all relax. If anything he’s only gotten deeper, more conceptual and further away from the radio. Looks like there’s hope for hip-hop overall.

Really, all you need to know is in the name and the title: Big R.emember I.n T.ime's ReturnOfEva. The man’s dedicated to making timeless music, and he’s getting close, starting, fittingly, with Time Machine. On the production tip K.R.I.T. is the second coming of Pimp C in his ability to craft beats that swagger and ride, but also contains notes of soul. Underneath Time Machine’s bouncing percussion are blues guitars and somber synths that give the cut a real sense of longing. Similarly, in almost anyone else’s hands Highs & Lows would have been a boasting pimps anthem, but K.R.I.T. transforms it into something dreamy and subtly gritty and while in the most literal sense Rotation is about rotating the tires on a car it’s really about hope manifested in a car. Does all that sound deep? Good, because as those who have listened closely already know, ReturnOf4Eva is a deep mixalbum.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of lightness on the mixalbum. Sookie Now, while still containing some of the soul elements mentioned earlier, is a uptempo head-nodder capped off by a pretty damn good David Banner guest verse. On the same level, while women are scattered throughout the mixalbum Players Ballad is the only record that touches on outright romance, a vibe enhanced by Raheem Devaughn’s smooth crooning, and while Shake It may not actually get play in a strip club, I’d like to be at the kind of strip club that would play something like that. The project’s most easily accessible song comes in the form of a remix to Wuz Here’s Country Sh*t, now featuring a vintage-form verses from Ludacris and Bun B. While these songs are still far from anything d-bag radio programmer guy would pick up, K.R.I.T. makes sure to drive the point home on American Rapstar – he knows only too well the price for straying too far from your roots. Relax people, I don’t think we have to worry about K.R.I.T. making the next A Bay Bay anytime soon.

Lord knows the vultures will start circling once his debut album starts getting rolled out, whenever that is, but if ReturnOf4Eva can be thought of as a preview to that eventual album, we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief. Against all odds, it seems like hip-hop’s found an artist truly dedicated to making classic music in Big K.R.I.T, and that’s got to make even the most cynical fan hopeful. Hip-hop will never die, as long as we have artists like K.R.I.T. who know both the culture’s past and a vision for its future it will live forever. For eva eva? And eva eva? Yes, forever.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

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Posted March 31, 2011
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