I love Big K.R.I.T., he's literally one of my favorite emcees, but let’s be honest, his surprise It's Better This Way project isn't the kind of internet-breaking release that demands we run to a computer and bang out a 5,000 word 1 Listen Review.
Plus, we know you're busy. Odds are you're reading this while procrastinating at your job, in between study sessions for that big test or while you're waiting in line at the grocery store. What you really want to know, what you need to know, is - is this project worth my time?
So let's meet in the middle. Think of this as your Cliff Notes guide, your GameShark, your Cheat Code to Big K.R.I.T.’s It’s Better This Way, everything you need to know and hear delivered quickly and cleanly. Let's go.
- K.R.I.T. has some of the best artwork in the game, and I assume this one was done by Eric Bailey, Krizzle’s go-to guy. It also represents K.R.I.T.’s career perfectly. K.R.I.T. has always been different, which hasn't made his path easy. He's capable of real mainstream success, but also represents everything good about hip-hop.
- This project was first a Datpiff exclusive - is Datpiff still a thing? I love Datpiff, it was my go to in college, but come on, Jager shots were also my go-to in college. Unfortunately, that means regardless of where you downloaded the project, you're going to have to endure "You're now logged onto Datpiff.com" drops throughout the project. You've been warned.
- Speaking of which, you're also going to have to endure some DJ Drama "narrations." Drama's presence on this tape isn't as bad as some others, but it really does take something away from the experience when I'm occasionally getting yelled at by Tyree Cinque Simmons.
- The project is produced almost entirely by K.R.I.T., with Kenneth Whalum and WOLFE de MÇHLS chipping in an instrumental each, and features vocals from BJ The Chicago Kid, K Camp, Ludacris, Warren G and Young Dolph.
5 Songs You Need to Hear
"King Pt. 4"
I love K.R.I.T.’s ability to be so strong yet so passionate and heartfelt and "King Pt. 4" is one of those moments. There is so much emotion in his voice, I can sense his frustration but I can also hear his determination. That combination is a great juxtaposition over the jazzy backdrop. Also, note his frustration with Def Jam, it’s something I’ve noticed come up regularly in his music and it makes an appearance just one song into this project. Something to keep an eye on.
Favorite part: “I envy your will to be a better man / In a world where a better man don't even stand a chance on this earth”
Woooooooooooooooooooo. This shit goes. This side of K.R.I.T., the stuntin’ side, isn't what really draws me in, but he’s just so fucking good at rapping. That second verse is damn near flawless, I love all the change ups in his flow and that hook is surprisingly smooth. If you love this kind of song I highly recommend, “Keep It Boomin.”
Favorite part: The second half of the second verse.
"Shake Em Off"
Gotdamn! Shit slaps like an offended Rick James! This is the kind of song I would never listen to, but K.R.I.T. is a master at stuntin’ with substance. This song just makes me feel cool. I love the thump. If you can't take your backpack off for two minutes and enjoy this you don't have a functional soul.
Favorite part: Out of nowhere the ghost of Ludacris comes through and delivers some dope, dope, dope rhymes.
"Can’t Be Still"
My favorite effort off the project. Part hip-hop, part soul, part blues, this is the K.R.I.T. I love most. The atmospheric, sample-laden beat get’s my feel’s moving, setting me up perfectly to listen to K.R.I.T.’s sermon. There were times I let out an audible “mmm," the kind you hear in church after the preacher just dropped some truth. I was also interested in the line, “And I'ma pimp what I can from Def Jam/Cause I know my worth ain't cheap.” This might have to be an article in and of itself, but I really get the sense a major label deal wasn’t quite what he expected. Also, much love to BJ The Chicago Kid who adds so much to every single track he is on. I LOVE this record.
Favorite part: “Yeah, it's lonely at the top but the view is beautiful In the morning”
"It’s Better This Way"
It might be cliche to have the title-track as a standout, but so be it. “It’s Better This Way” is dope. I think I love this song most because of the perspective it provides. K.R.I.T.’s struggle is something he’s open and honest about, he doesn't bullshit, and as a result I’ve always wanted him to achieve that mainstream success he deserves, but maybe never will. Maybe that’s better. Maybe he never has a platinum album, maybe he never has a radio hit, but his commitment to making the right music for the right reasons is what connects me to him. If that means in a year he’s not on Def Jam and he never wins a GRAMMY so be it. Maybe it really is better this way.
Favorite part: The subtle yet effective effects on the beat. The clapping, that plunging bass. The way the drums kick on the hook. Sometimes it’s the little things that matter most.
Pizza is consistently a good idea, it's almost never bad, but there are varying degrees of good. Krizzle is the same. Overall, I really enjoyed this project and it will definitely be in heavy rotation, but still, I've heard enough from him to know immediately it’s just not as good as his best.
Still, that really means that if you're already a K.R.I.T. fan you will fuck with this. No matter which side of K.R.I.T. you love - the soulful southern side, the turn up side, the eat your face off side, the smoker side - there is something here for you. And if you're not already a fan, if those five songs above don't convince you to take a listen, than maybe I can convince you to check out King Remembered in Time? And if you're still not feeling it, than you're just not meant to be a Big K.R.I.T. fan.
Personally, I want to say thank you to Big K.R.I.T. The man has provided quality tune after quality tune for five years and deserves some appreciation, even if it’s from a blogger writing in his boxers.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. You can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]