“When you young all you want to do is be on the radio and all you want to do is get a contract, get a deal,” - Big K.R.I.T.
K.R.I.T. Wuz Here is seven years old, just one year younger than So Far Gone and The Warm Up. Three classic tapes, all stuck in rotation during the duration of my 2010 summer. There was something different about Drake, J. Cole, and Big K.R.I.T. at the time. Listening to their early works was like witnessing a quarterback throw perfect spirals during an after-school scrimmage. From the flawlessness of their form to the poetry of their motion, you couldn't help but foresee a high definition future that included the brights lights of Monday Night Football. I saw them all entering the league, three rappers with the skillset and charisma to make it in the majors.
Krizzle was Southern, real Southern; when he opened his mouth, Mississippi spoke. Pressing play on his tape was instantly being transported inside a box Chevy with a gold grill gleaming in the afternoon sun. His music mirrored home, the very roots he sprung from. He also reminded the world that Atlanta wasn’t the only Southern city producing promising talent.
K.R.I.T. was the underdog. He didn’t have a record label and was rooted in a place where David Banner was the last big star to blossom from his home. I saw him in the same light as Wichita native XV—all the potential to break through, with all the odds to hold him back. It was in the way he rapped, how he became a producer after needing beats―all of it showed an undeniable hunger to emerge victoriously. I believed in him.
He was black and proud, raw and resolvent, Southern and soulful, cheering for his prosperity was like rooting on a country cousin. After K.R.I.T. Wuz Here and Return of 4Eva, and the major deal with Def Jam, there was no doubt he would be next to conquer hip-hop. In delivering back-to-back classics, K.R.I.T. fed us soul food for our ears; he just had to do it again with the label, with the machine. Benefits included more fans, radio airplay, and an overall expansion of where his music could reach, but the albums―Live From The Underground and Cadillactica―didn’t leave fans with the same feeling as his mixtapes. They were good, fantastic music can be found on both (“Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” “Soul Food”), but wanting more was the lasting impression.
After years of unhappiness and disappointment, Krizzle achieved his freedom last year. 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time, a hearty double album, is his first full-length LP in three years and his first independent album since 2010. Enough time has passed where I’m not only hungry for new music but detached to my previous fixation on the past. I don’t want another K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, I’m interested in where K.R.I.T. is now and what that sounds like. Making the project a double is proof enough there’s plenty to be said. He’s still a major talent in the major league, he's just using his own playbook.
In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish.
1. "Big K.R.I.T."
The opening track is named after his stage name, I’m excited. Sound like a woman's voice, deep and soulful. The build-up. K.R.I.T.! He started his verse about the creator leading him to create. Poetic in style. “This mouth of mine has turned down water for wine.” He’s preaching the gospel. K.R.I.T. isn’t a Christian rapper but he’s always been very spiritual. The drums just came in as if K.R.I.T. sampled angels banging sledgehammers into halos, heavy but soulful. I love the backing vocals. The boom just kicked in. K.R.I.T.'s flow just doubled in speed. Head spinning. This is exhilarating! He just pushed the nitro button and the track blasted off. From a church to a Chevy. The humble son to the stunting rapper. Loving the switch up. “Fuck being major when giant is greater,” he’s going OFF. Yep, this is a soul lifting, heart racing intro. Forever. Can we get a BJ The Chicago Kid x K.R.I.T. album? Just throwing it out there. Okay, next song.
One of my favorites from our short-lived Report Card series. I love the build-up, slow and swelling. This could easily be the music played as prisoners walk to a beheading at the hands of a vicious king. Okay, that was a dark thought. K.R.I.T. sounds like he woke up fed up. That electric guitar is as aggressive as a drunk driver who was drinking because they were just fired from their shitty job. Slow flow. The instrumental really has a life of its own. The daunting keys don’t bother K.R.I.T., the kind of man that walks through a den of lions with no sense of fear. Oh, the build up. These drums hit harder than an angry Mike Tyson. I need new car speakers for this album. I wonder if DJBooth will gift me some for the upcoming holiday *side eye emoji.*This slick flow on the second verse, the way he adjusts the delivery with the switch up, is golden. “What’s a name if they don’t respect it?” Can we start calling K.R.I.T. the Black Panther of hip-hop? He speaks how I imagine T'Challa would if the king of Wakanda rapped.
3. "Big Bank" ft. T.I.
T.I. and K.R.I.T.! I expected a hard beat, like El-P's production on Killer Mike’s "Big Beast," but this is pretty soulful and jazzy. OH! The drums and bass just came in, SO SOUTHERN!!! This instrumental is flyer than a ‘70s blaxploitation film directed by Gordon Parks, Jr. K.RI.T. is full of energy, he's jubilant! So much bass, so much bounce. Tiptoeing in his Jordans flow. You gotta shake your invisible dreads like Waka Flocka performing "Oh Lets Do It" while this plays. If T.I. ruins “Big Bank,” I will never forgive him. If I could pen this review in my car while driving I would, I can’t sit still. T.I.!!! Fast flow. He already sounds tired. C’mon old man. I’m joking, he’s doing alright. But he really couldn’t follow up that Krit performance. Wait, he bringing it home. I love when T.I. mentions his family, it’s a beautiful family. This is some real southern shit. Bun B is somewhere ready to drop a verse, I can feel it in my southern bones. Okay, we got some narrative. Someone's telling a story. This is dope…
4. "Subenstein (My Sub IV)"
OMG. My ears. You should not let this song come on at full volume. I know how Holyfield felt now. This is insane. Mannie Fucking Fresh made the Frankenstein of bass beats. I’m so glad K.R.I.T. got a southern legend to lend him some of that N.O. gusto. I appreciate how he’s kept this Sub series interesting and fun. There’s a maturity about K.R.I.T., a newfound confidence between these bars. His delivery and flow have been sharper than a tooth from Jaw’s mouth. He switched up to singing. We don’t give him enough credit for being one of the better singing rappers. Beat with the switch up. The hi-hats and bassline need mental elevation. This beat is truly from a different planet. Really. Protect your eardrums. Unless you want to lose your hearing. GUITAR GOING HELLA MAD. We're three tracks in and K.R.I.T. sounds like a new and improved man.
5. "1999" ft. Lloyd
Can Lloyd make a complete come back? I've been thinking about this a lot since my piece on the artistic window. Okay, slow build up. 1999 was a good year, I think. “Back that ass up like it was 1999,” shouts to Juvie. Man. Bass is ridiculous. Slow wind music. You know K.R.I.T.'s been gone for too long when you can’t remember the last time you heard a good strip club dedication. I like this, a seductive sound. I can imagine blowing an entire freelance check while this played. If this snare was in school it should be left back a grade or two. Lloyd with some grown man sauce. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Lloyd sing the word pussy, I can’t believe this is the same kid who made “Southside” with Ashanti. The industry is OVERDUE for more Mannie Fresh beats, he needs to be giving out these packs. Also, if this is what the stash sounds like, someone put Wayne and Mannie in the same studio ASAP. Did K.R.I.T. just rap buss it baby? Word to Plies. This is good. I love the feeling, this is a vibe. I need to make a list of the best strip club records.
6. "Ride Wit Me" ft. UGK
BUN B! Just gave a RIP to PIMP C. Bun sounds like he's ready to tell the five finger joke to someone’s face. Never forget when Bun B was the feature king. He sounds GOOD! We don’t hear enough from Bun these days. Is that Pimp C on the hook? Oh yeah, this is mink coat with that Glock underneath vibe. K.R.I.T. came on with something to prove. Instrumental is knocking but it’s moody, sounds like a daunting violin or some kind of string building the atmosphere. I miss Pimp C so much. All that natural attitude. You can hear K.R.I.T. is channeling the good pimp in this third verse. This is murder. LISTEN TO THIS FLOW. Bring it back. I wonder where this Pimp hook came from. It sounds unfinished. Like a reference maybe? I dunno. That second K.R.I.T. verse was like sitting in a Los Angeles sauna trading stock tips with Lucifer. Rewind worthy.
7. "Get Up 2 Come Down" ft. Sleepy Brown & CeeLo Green
First UGK then the Dungeon Family OGs. Keeping it southern and legendary. I love the build-up. Those licks sound like they could’ve been in Superfly. Smooth drop, smooth hook. In an alternate reality, Sleepy Brown became a southern rap hook man in the '90s. I wish he was Atlanta's Nate Dogg, it wasn't meant to be. K.R.I.T. giving me Big Boi vibes. I never noticed how much he raps like a distant relative of the Dungeon Family. Ginger Ale and Hennessy? I might have to try it. A Waffle House reference, my man really is paying homage. I love the saxophone riff. Everything sounds so full. C’mon. I need to have a full discussion about these flows. I can’t wait to go back and admire the technical aspect of these rhymes. These verses are dense with style and versatility. Why is he rapping like a southern OG? It's a distinguishable change of style that I can’t completely articulate but the imagery is excellent. CeeLo! He sounds like he went back to the ‘90s. Yeah, this isn’t CeeLo from The Voice. K.R.I.T. put the battery in his back. He's so into this verse. A lot of OG game being given on this album. Is that Sleepy? Man. We need a Big Rube outro.
Strong. The album is like a locomotive the way it’s trucking along in full force. So southern and nostalgic. Okay, we got a changeup. Singing. Smooth. He stripped the hard hitting drums, this is way toned down. This feels like being on a plane and the easiness that comes with hanging so high in the air with no worries. This is a way different kind of record for K.R.I.T. He found a cool way to switch things up, a southern with a languorous melody. This is very Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony, the melody that is. I would love if they got together and sung with K.R.I.T. We all need a lay-up. The song you play after a long day on the job. Got to earn the lay-up. Also the instrumentation snuggling in the background adding all the needed textures. Guitar and bass. He slowed the album down, but it felt like a good time to relax and reflect. A good tune.
9. "Classic Interlude"
Hahaha. Hip-hop needed a skit like this. “That nigga ain’t got a barcode, it’s a classic.” I swear this is what the timeline looks like. THAT WAS A PERFECT ENDING. HAHAHAHA.
10. "Aux Cord"
Back at it with the drums! K.R.I.T.'s drums are equivalent to Onyx using Rock Throw. If his drums were a Pokemon attack it would be TM26. Snare snappin'. I love how the beat is spacy and vibey, but it still has more kick than a Hitmonlee sparring against Dennis Alexio. Leisure flow. Might be my favorite beat on the album thus far. Kudos to DJ Khalil. Who does K.R.I.T.'s engineering? This mix is pristine. The best mix I’ve heard since Rapsody’s album. K.R.I.T.'s really giving us the record to play when the aux is passed. Reminiscing on the second verse. He’s paying homage to legend. David Ruffin reference. Man! I almost overlooked the angel of a woman who suddenly appeared. These guitars K.R.I.T. is utilizing are electrifying. Yeah. This beat is on a stairway to Olympus. So far my favorite. So far…
11. "Get Away"
Sample? Sounds so soft, like a clock is wound up and ticking. Digging the mood. Oh shit! That wake up! “Everybody get you glow on” is the 2017 “Everybody get your roll on.” Loving the beat. Make soul samples great again. I love when the vocal sample is underneath the beat the entire time. K.RI.T.'s energy is infectious. I’m bouncing. He really does rap with such a pure clarity. You can tell he’s in a good headspace. Enlightening K.R.I.T. might be my favorite K.R.I.T.. He's having so much fun on the album. If this album was only one disc, it would be no skips. Not a single one. Let's see if he can keep this going. I have faith, but man, this first half. The last time I heard a double disc where the first disc had no skips was Summertime ‘06. Have to figure out where this sample came from. Another singer. Uncredited but awesome. The singer and the sample, a love story and eargasm. Krit harmonies just came in. We are heading somewhere beautiful. Soothing and soulful. Krit is cooking.
1. "Justin Scott"
Okay, no narrative, just a harsh piano note. Play them keys like a madman! I’m not even mad. Well, maybe a little. Justin Scott is what K.R.I.T. used to write on the top right corner of his school assignments for the unknowing. Interesting juxtaposition. I assume this side will be more personal. This build-up is a cosmic beauty. These keys are getting PLAYED. Jazz, wonderful jazz. If he didn’t rap, I wouldn’t badmouth the man. I should call him Justin for the second half, it’s only right? Nah, I don’t know that man well enough to call him by his government name. This album is ice cream for eardrums. Strong, soulful, church voices. Who are this man and woman? Where can I buy their album? He is putting on a musical show. My body is levitating, my heart is full. It’s all coming together like a beautiful arrangement. Okay, people are talking. All the advice everyone has ever given him is swirling around his head like a cyclone, word to Baby Bash.
2. "Mixed Messages"
Imagine getting off a label and now everyone has advice for you? A cool build up. A lot softer than the music on disc one. The knock just came in heavy handed. K.R.I.T. is singing. Honest. Talking about his personal life and mixed messages in his songs. The burden of many emotions. This is a little slow. Tempo just went picked up. Yep. Justin, I mean, Krizzle introspection is refreshing. Is he a Gemini? OH! Now that was a bar about praying even though the struggle has passed. Social media negativity was just mentioned. Okay, we're really getting inside all the conflicting feelings he struggles with. “Want to be saved but it’s fuck the police, don’t want to be here but still want to leave.” I feel you. I love the backing vocals that just came in. I love the concept. Again, the tempo was a little slow but I’m not mad. Interested in seeing if he keeps this up on disc two.
3. "Keep the devil Off"
BOOM! Okay. The tempo is up, the energy is high. The vocals a little different, I like the sound. It's like being in church and trying to get cleansed. He sounds like he’s just hopped back two or three decades. A preacher with a pimp cane. Loving the percussion. Also, the women, the guitar, and everything about the production is absolutely out this world. The arrangement is next level. If OutKast ever released another album, K.R.I.T. has to be sitting in the production chair. So much is going on. The production is its own spectacle. Horn section came in and they not playing games. I already know I have to be in a mood to have my mind blown to play this one. It’s literally like K.R.I.T. wanted to take the free-flowing madness of TPAB and build the aesthetic into one song. It’s all free jazz. Sounds exploding from every direction. It’s glorious madness. Harlem shake the devil off music. THE HORNS AT THE END. I can’t believe how much just happened. Jaw kissing the carpet.
4. "Miss Georgia Fornia" ft. Joi
Okay, I’m convinced his experimental producer side is about to dominate. Even the build-up sounds like it’s about to be insane. Joi's voice is incredible. K.R.I.T. came in with the drums. Singing. I’m loving this. There’s a vocal change up that I’m loving. It’s a more melodic flow than the straightforward flow he began with. I don’t know if it’s just recent but there’s a lot of Big Boi’s great qualities in him. Man, so much passion in the production. Striking with a liveliness. Yep, the way these songs are structured is insane. I’m guessing this song is about his love for Georgia? I could be wrong. It’s so hard to tune into the lyrics when there are colorful sounds begging for your attention. Joi’s voice is so moving. The high note she just hit sent my soul to Mars. Such a powerful, lovely voice. I need to figure out what this song is about. The tracks have been longer on disc two. I get why the album was split into two. The flow would’ve been completely off. Joi is putting on a SHOW-STEALING PERFORMANCE. This is some damn good music. Wait, was this about K.R.I.T. moving to Georgia? He did live in Atlanta. Was the goal to move to L.A.? This could be the song he has wanted to write about his struggles with home. I don’t know. There’s literally angel harps being played. The string arrangement was unexpected, like getting a gift on someone else's birthday. I can’t get over Joi’s voice. Someone please get me a tissue my eyes are sweating.
Beautiful. The music is beautiful. Drums hitting. Reverse effects. A nice knock. K.R.I.T. is speaking to a woman. Loving the bassline. Only Krizzle will give you a love song that Feefo will give the bump in the whip badge. Super cool storytelling. I can’t believe this southern gentlemen is the same guy who had a verse on Wiz’s “Glass House.” I’ll never forget when he rapped, “Is you fucking, is you sucking, I was wondering cuz if not, Don’t be pushing on my buttons in my Cutlass.” He made the rules of his Cutlass very clear back then. Glad to see he’s matured. No hyperbole, but the poetry aspect is some SpottieOttieDopa kind of cool. Nothing will ever touch Big and Dre, but the verse is very tight. Sweet Boom-bap switch up. This is a vibe. “Asking if the chemistry we got is everlasting?” Don’t we all wonder this when we meet someone dope?
6. "Higher Calling" ft. Jill Scott
Looking for the spiritual innuendos on this one. Jill Scott bringing the gospel soul. I could hear Rapsody on this one. K.R.I.T. started rapping and switched to the singing. Production is insane. Flow switches unpredictable, K.R.I.T. can turn it on and off like Soulja Boy does his swag. Jill Scott got me ready to attend church on Sunday. Bruh. What has K.R.I.T. been doing during his time off? Rap wise he is just in the bag, ziplock, carry-on, whatever kind of bag there is he’s in it. Such a slick rhymer. When she says, “You are my higher calling” I catch all the chills. Yeah, who produced this? I always assume K.R.I.T. does the beats but it’s been a diverse line-up. Man, something special happens when rapping producers get a chance to bring in outside talent and craft something dope. Everything is such zone out vibe. Music for when you are alone in your room contemplating the universe. Man, I was going to watch Stranger Things season two tonight, but I’ll probably just play the album again. It’s been that good.
7. "Weekend Interlude"
Sudden switch up. Knocking. Yo. These interludes. Each one has been fire. He’s making a fake radio announcement. I’m dying. ITS THE WEEKEND!!!!
8. "Price of Fame"
I love hip-hop. This is so good. The elation of good hip-hop is unmatched. More personal rhymes. He’s giving us the frank, transparent real. K.R.I.T. is so lowkey it’s hard to imagine him struggling with fame, but he's definitely going through it like the rest of his peers. “I haven’t been to church in years and it ain’t even far,” is a bar. So much food for thought. The beat is heavy but not hard, plenty of room to pour out his soul. “Can’t tell them about my depression because most of them fans now.” DEEP. The second verse is about being famous. He just mentioned Justin Scott vis-à-vis Big K.R.I.T.. Man, there's so much packed into this verse alone. Krizzle was off the grid swimming through a lot of pressure and depression. Who knew!? Every few minutes I’m asking myself why this album is so good? It’s far beyond anything I was expecting. Slow closing. We still have three songs left.
9. "Drinking Sessions" ft. Keyon Harrold
Keys. Heavy, but not as heavy as the intro. Building up. Fatigue setting in. I’m starting to get that headache at the center of your forehead, but I’m way too excited to think about sleeping. K.R.I.T. is talking. One of the rare times he’s just speaking. He’s been drinking. Rappers usually rap intoxicated to show how turnt they are, how much fun they’re having, but he’s going for that drunk clarity, the kind of drunk where you wake up and wonder why you sent her those three paragraph long text messages. Loving the horns. Loving it all. You can hear the subtle aggression. He’s pouring it out. The vein has been open and the blood is flowing. OH!! He’s talking to his mom. WELCOME TO HEARTBREAK bars are being delivered. Talking about Def Jam. This is real, rap, raw. “Everybody trying to die young but who gonna talk about life.” I just caught a chill when he talked about people being gunned down. I don’t know if I’m tired but he’s starting to sound like Scarface. KRIT IN HIS CHEST. Reminds me of so many drunken nights. So many feelings. And these trumpets are bringing so many emotions to the surface. So much pain in his voice. Is that sorrow? No. It’s not pain nor sorrow, it’s sincerity. His most sincere voice. Naked. Exposed. The king with no clothing. I need a drink. Can I start this one over and just cry for an hour? I think I would if I could.
10. "The Light" ft. Bilal, Robert Glasper, Kenneth Whalum & Burniss Earl Travis II
What is left!? What? Man, he could’ve ended it there and I would’ve just wept a thousand golden tears. I’m not kidding when I say K.R.I.T took the jazz to TPAB levels. I’m still shook off the previous song but I’m loving everything that’s happening here. He mentioned George Zimmerman in the first verse. A police reference. Oh yeah, Personal K.R.I.T. is better than Enlightening K.R.I.T.. I’m happy he split the album into two discs. It’s like getting FUTURE and HNDRXXon the same day. You can see both sides clearly. A black man in America music. So much to unpack. And the music, I mean, it’s just swirling around in my ears at this point. Jazz is magic. It feels overwhelming but also comforting, like it’s meant to blanket you. What a star-studded way to go out. Wow. Just wow.
11. "Bury Me In Gold"
Grand finale. Bring it on home, K.R.I.T.. Poetry. This sorta sounds familiar. I don’t think it's a sample, though. Gold wordplay was golden. Oh yeah. K.R.I.T. and Rapsody were definitely influenced by Kendrick’s blueprint. This choir. It has to be sampled. I just can’t put my finger on it. The drum pattern is incredible. The beat is so alive. I’ve been transported to church. This is so SOULFUL and POWERFUL. Man, he has come such a long way from rapping “Could’ve bought my way to heaven, but I blow it on my neck.” He’s beyond the materialism. Oh man. Spiritual K.R.I.T. is just trying to get into Heaven and receive some peace. He said if you buried him in gold he’d give it to his maker. Powerful. Thought he would stunt. I’m so sad the album is ending. So sad.
This is a magnum opus-caliber release. To be clear, I’m not saying it's a classic. I’ll save that label for years to come, but on this day, after finishing this double album, the first word that comes to mind is masterpiece. It may be premature, but the thought is far from hyperbolic.
4eva Is a Mighty Long Time is the flawless form, the poetry in motion―the perfect spiral I knew K.R.I.T. could throw.
He has taken everything he has ever done well, years of cultivated talent, and ascended those qualities to the highest class. He made the soulful, jazzy, Southern rap album he has foreshadowed since the dawn of his mixtape era. Disc one is for the car, those country rap slappers that will cause the ground to tremble underneath the bass. All the bursting, explosive energy radiates from the first half. Disc two is for the home when you are alone and soul-searching, and in need of a voice who is also contemplative and musing.
There’s no balancing these two at once, hence the split. K.R.I.T. realized as an artist there were two dimensions to himself, the Southern MC and the thoughtful sage.
I’m in awe at how fluid the entire project flows. The hour and 25-minute runtime didn’t drag at all. There are so many layers and the night is late―my eyes are barely open as I type these words―but the album is still playing. It’s still playing because there’s so much to hear, so much to get lost in.
As fans, we love artists for who they are and also who they can be. There’s a natural attraction to an abundance of potential, the possibility that the necessary development will occur and a fully refined artist will be the result is worth watching. After seven years of waiting and anticipating, Big K.R.I.T. has arrived in his most complete form. The lyricism, the artistry, the musicality, it all comes together as if God himself did the sow and stitching.
This is a magical quilt knitted with every thread of creativity in Big K.R.I.T.’s soul and I expect it to keep me warm for the many winters and summers to come. A masterpiece.
Early Favorites: Disc 1 & 2
Early Not-So-Favorites: When "Bury Me In Gold" ends.
By Yoh, aka Yoh Wuz Impressed, aka @Yoh31