Big K.R.I.T. has spent a decade cementing himself as a hip-hop legend in the south, working with nearly every iconic southern artist from Big Boi to Slim Thug—even blues great B.B. King once lent a musical hand to the Meridian native.
Through an incredibly high-quality, yet prolific output and a timeless style, K.R.I.T. has provided ample reason to be considered among the greats of this generation. It was more than a little surprising, then, when fellow southern staple T.I. stated in a recent interview that Krizzle has, “amazing potential as an artist.”
I know Tip’s comment came from a place of love and respect, but "potential"? Really? Regardless of how T.I. intended for the remark to come across, it does serve as a reminder of the unfortunate underappreciation of K.R.I.T.’s greatness.
A longtime DJBooth favorite, Big K.R.I.T. has been recording and releasing quality music since 2005, just a year after T.I.’s hugely successful third album Urban Legend was released. Over a decade into his career, however, K.R.I.T. is rarely mentioned among the greats. And while his multiple mixtape and album releases have been largely praised, true appreciation for K.R.I.T.’s vision and output has been relegated to niche fandom rather than the mainstream attention it deserves.
In both album and mixtape form—with K.R.I.T. the two are usually indistinguishable from a quality standpoint—Krizzle has been running circles around rappers lyrically and conceptually, often over his own incredible production, which might be even more slept-on than his skills as a rapper.
Rather than tackling abstract experimentation in his music, K.R.I.T. has instead spent years fine-tuning and mastering his own lane, all the while consistently offering stylistic surprises, such as his recent #12FOR12 freestyle series, just to remind us that he’s far from one-dimensional.
The only part of Tip’s “potential” remark that really holds up is in regards to Krizzle’s commercial success. With only two official albums and combined sales of roughly 250k units sold (not including stream equivalents), mainstream notoriety is the only feather missing from K.R.I.T.’s career cap. Of course, continued collaboration with upper-echelon artists like T.I. will help to raise K.R.I.T.’s profile, albeit a bit more slowly than his skill set warrants, but the Mississippi native will ultimately have to climb that mountain alone.
As K.R.I.T. continues to mature and evolve, the only thing that remains to be seen is when we’ll see him receive his just due. His potential was realized years ago, the masses just haven’t caught up to what K.R.I.T. and his fans already know.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that K.R.I.T.'s album sales total was 150k units sold.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.