During the infamous blog era, to become a rapper of notoriety, releasing a cult-classic mixtape was the only sure-fire way to establish your name. Fans didn’t care and record labels didn’t call until a full-length project was uploaded to DATPIFF and posted by all the respected tastemakers and websites. K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, the sixth mixtape by everyman rapper Big K.R.I.T., released exclusively on DJBooth, shook the internet on May 3, 2010.
K.R.I.T. Wuz Here put K.R.I.T. on the industry’s radar for all the best reasons. The 20-track mixtape displayed an artist who rapped as well as he produced. Here was a man who was both southern and soulful. A man of his time, yet, touched by the spirit of art from yesteryears. The Mississippi native presented himself as the full package.
Now, after nine years as one of the blog era’s golden children, and one of hip-hop’s most consistent auteurs, K.R.I.T. returns with K.R.I.T. IZ HERE, his fourth studio album and his second independent release since parting company with Def Jam in 2016.
K.R.I.T. has released several singles leading up to the album drop, but hip-hop’s country cousin has been tight-lipped about his latest offering. K.R.I.T. has always been someone who allows the music to speak. Let’s see what he has to say almost a decade since being introduced on the blogosphere.
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. “K.R.I.T. HERE”
I’m loving all the soul samples that have appeared on the recent rap albums. A pleasant loop into a trampoline bounce. K.R.I.T. is energetic from the gate. There’s a fullness to this opening record that makes you feel like a giant. My car will tremble as this beat shakes the ground. I love that K.R.I.T. makes music for people with good car speakers. I’m not one of them, but one day. The beat cuts out, the sample comes in, and he’s feeling good about all he’s accomplished. “This is where I wanted to be.” Very lively. It sounds as if K.R.I.T. is still excited about making music. This back half is so pumped. The horns! It’s like a college football game in my eardrums. I can’t wait until K.R.I.T. gives ESPN an anthem-like Jay Rock’s “Win.” He has it in him. Strong intro.
2. “High End Country” (Interlude)
An interlude this early, that’s different. Man, this voice sounds familiar. It’s like if T.I.’s aristocratic uncle walked into the studio. I’m amused, haha. I’ll play this again.
3. “I Been Waitin”
I like the transition into “I Been Waitin” from the interlude. A trap bounce. I like the keys. They are bright, but they got pretty dark underneath these drums. K.R.I.T. went from sounding like a giant to a hunter. He’s on the prowl, a jaguar searching for prey. He’s so relaxed but focused. This is good. Loving how the second verse starts. Doesn’t sound like a beat that K.R.I.T. would’ve made, but it's perfect for him. Kudos to the producers who made this iceberg. “I been waiting to floss that whip.” I’ll run it back.
4. “Make It Easy”
K.R.I.T. is reaching back into the soul bag. This loop is as gorgeous as a wedding dress on a princess. “The image of well-done, I’m too nice.” K.R.I.T. is not stumbling. Laser sharpness thus far. This is a proud rapper who accomplished all his dreams. He’s Rocky running up the 72 stone steps with his arms raised to the heavens. “A country boy killing your favorite rapper.” K.R.I.T. has never sounded this self-assured but he still remains humble. “I’m a living work of art.” He is knocking over mountains! So confident. Love to hear it. Keeper.
5. “Addiction” ft. Lil Wayne & Saweetie
Saweetie has the voice. It’s sexy, alluring, and perfect for the hook. The beat is fun. K.R.I.T. is having fun on this album. The old soul has to remind you he’s a young man. In retrospect, “Addiction” was a good choice for a single. It’s pretty infectious. In a different lifetime, this song would’ve premiered on 106 & Park. Wayne is rapping. One of his best guests features this year. Teenage Yoh loves that a former feature killer can still commit murder like the good ol' days. “Listening to Tity we litty.” 2 Chainz and Wayne really are best friends. Good song. Drags a bit at the end, could’ve cut it sooner, but I won’t skip.
Interesting that “Energy” made the project. It’s a well-known record, but I don’t know if it's necessary. I really enjoy the production. It emits a feeling that’s warm. I can see how the song’s tone and temperament match the previous songs. Not bad, not bad. I hope all rappers have K.R.I.T.'s passion a decade into their career. There are so many pitfalls that will take the joy out of making music. I'm happy that K.R.I.T. hasn’t lost the enjoyment. Man, that bounce jumps into your shoulders. You can’t help but dance. I’m not sold on the song's inclusion on the album, though. Would skip.
7. ”Obvious” ft. Rico Love
These keys are resounding. Rico Love, vocally, reminds me of Drake during the Thank Me, Later days. Trey Songz-esque R&B. I can’t recall the last time I heard Rico Love. K.R.I.T. is pretty smooth on this softer, calmer production. I usually enjoy these records, but I’m not instantly grabbed. There’s a datedness to this approach. He talked about switching up his diet. Healthy brags are the best brags. This is a sweet song. We need more compassionate rap songs dedicated to women. I won’t be returning intentionally, but I’m sure someone else will.
8. “I Made” ft. Yella Beezy
Yella! These keys. Yep, this is about to be a smash. Ah, those drums did not go off like a grenade. Disappointed. K.R.I.T. raised the energy again. “I Made” would’ve been great after “Energy.” Yella sounds good. He’s an interesting artist. The second verse is starting off solid. He’s a little too on topic for my taste. Just the way he worked “made” into the verse was excessive. This record will lift fitted caps during performances.
9. “Everytime” ft. Baby Rose
Baby Rose is going feature crazy this year. She’s been on albums by Matt Martians, Yung Baby Tate, Dreamville’s compilation, and now Krizzle. It’s the voice. There’s so much emotion and feeling in her texture. This is an odd choice sequence wise. The mid-tempo dropped the energy again. It’s good to hear Muhammad Ali still being referenced in rap songs. This is a pleasant song. “I did it for the chip, never the mentions,” that’s a good one. “Break a record before I break my neck.” A lot of sports references. K.R.I.T. is saying “I’m my only competition.“ Baby Rose is taking us home with the solo. Nice way to close this one out.
I like this build up. A nice change of pace. YES! Now, that was a drop! My eyebrows are on the ceiling. The beat has the kickback of a shotgun. K.R.I.T. sounds hungry. “I need Wakanda in Mississipi.” I like that bar, I won’t lie, haha. Oh! The Denzel/Spike Lee bar got me too. Feeling like a favorite. This is K.R.I.T. in the BAG. Talking from the heart and saying it with his chest. “That’s what we good at though, believing.” The bounce will have you jumping out the seat. Yep, favorite. He’s pouring it all out. A Nipsey line. This one is going to punch people in the chest.
11. “Prove It” ft. J. Cole
Probably the most anticipated record on the album. Who is this? It doesn’t sound like K.R.I.T. or Cole. Not bad. Reminds me of PartyNextDoor. I think this is WOLFE de MÇHLS. I love that K.R.I.T. begins his verse with, “Believe in me” after “Believe.” I’m not sure what his verse is about. I don’t love this beat. It’s just not gripping me. K.R.I.T.'s second verse has plenty of sounds in the background. It’s a bit messy. There's a lot going on. Yeah, I’ll have to go back and play this again. Cole’s vocals on the hook. He is talking about being put on to K.R.I.T.. Oh yeah, this is what I want from a Cole feature. He’s honest. Very transparent. Just shouted out of his first fan. Wow, she worked for Delta. YOO! I felt that.
12. “Family Matters”
Sounds like a woman’s harmonies. Is it a sample? Ari Lennox? Yeah, this beat is pretty unorthodox for Krizzle, but I’m enjoying the musical setting. This is good. The off-kilter production isn’t throwing him off. “That’s a long way from giving niggas demos.” “Family matters to me more than the Winslows.” I’m a sucker for the positive family records. Oh, that sparkler/Fourth of July bar was it. He’s really in a zone. I love that he’s giving us the album you make after a decade in the game. Keeper.
13. “Blue Flame (Interlude)”
Haha, a strip club interlude. Shouts to the Blue Flame! Atlanta.
14. “Blue Flame Ballet”
“Blue Flame Ballet” sounds like something Rico Wade would make. Getting some serious OutKast vibes, like a song 3 Stacks and Big would’ve made around the Stankonia era. All the respect to strippers and dancers. A person of power really needs to make stripping an Olympic sport. This is an interesting record; a strip club anthem that’s not your strip club record. The production is just too quiet. It’s not boisterous. It doesn’t inspire throwing money. But I love that he flipped the script. I’ll keep it. It’s like The Love Below but replace Rosario Dawson with Amber Rose.
15. “Learned From Texas”
Ah, another record from the TDT EP. It feels like a sore thumb after “Blue Flame Ballet.” At its heart, the song is an homage record, and we need more homage in the world, but I would skip this one if it wasn’t for our 1 Listen Review rules. I love the hook. I miss a nice chopped-n-screwed effect on records that can be played on the radio. Yeah, I’ll pass on this one, K.R.I.T., but with honor and respect to Texas.
16. “Outer Space”
Now we talking. We’re heading toward a new universe. Oh yeah, this vocal tone and delivery. He’s still finding inventive ways to approach records. I need a Vince Staples remix. His voice would really fit this one. I like the effects placed on K.R.I.T.'s voice during that bridge. All the verses are good. I wonder what draws K.R.I.T. to “Outer Space.” This is good. It feels like a potential keeper.
17. “High Beams” ft. WOLFE de MÇHLS
The album has officially reached the point where it feels long. I wish K.R.I.T. shaved maybe four-to-five records off. That 14-15 song sweet spot is ideal for his kind of artistry. I like the guitar loop. WOLFE de MÇHLS is on three records, and all of them are unlike the usual K.R.I.T. production. He pushed him out of his comfort zone more than any other collaborator. This one is fine. I’m not in love with it. There’s a lot that I do like, though. K.R.I.T. singing is great. He’s sincere. Don’t care for WOLFE de MÇHLS’ hook. These K.R.I.T. vocals are gold. There’s a good song somewhere in here.
18. “Life In The Sun” ft. Camper
Drums! Yeah, this is a build up. Lively keys. Oh yeah, this is a vibe. We’re about to leap tall buildings. “Colorful hair but dodging the fade.” Is he speaking on the new rappers? Kanye bar. The cavemen bar was cold. Oh, this is a verse. A very positive hook from Camper. I like the lightness. Eh, whatever Camper is doing could be shorter. The hook is like a bridge. I need more of whatever K.R.I.T. was saying in the first verse. He’s back. Still in the zone. The flow switch was smooth. Would’ve been happy if K.R.I.T. spits this one straight through, no hook. A strong record.
The grand finale. These keys and horns. Oh my! Yes, more of this, please. The live instrumentation is great. He wasn’t going to fumble this one, but sheesh. It’s so Southern, like if OutKast made Idlewild in Mississippi. The song is about having pride in your home. These horns are wonderful. The production is brilliant. The drums slide in! Yep, this is a way to close out the album. “Bitch, I’m from Mississippi.” He’s always had that hometown pride. I hope there’s a switch-up for the second half. It sounds like people are talking at dinner. It’s fading out. Ha, the skit from the second track. They’re boosting the record. I love it. “You could feel the spirit of the older blacks” hahaha. This sounds like a Dave Chappelle skit. “Now we must wait again.”
Final (first listen) thoughts on Big K.R.I.T's K.R.I.T IZ HERE:
Compared to his previous studio albums, K.R.I.T. IZ HERE finds Big K.R.I.T. having the most fun of his career. There’s a swagger in his voice that, across 19 tracks, doesn’t lose its sheen. K.R.I.T.'s battles are behind him; he can finally celebrate the journey thus far.
That's not to say K.R.I.T.'s previous projects lacked confidence, but rather, there was a constant chip on his shoulder. With each subsequent release, there was always something he wanted to prove. K.R.I.T. IZ HERE is an album that says: I made it, and no one can take that away from me.
K.R.I.T. IZ HERE is a lengthy affair—far too many songs for this era—but it rarely loses steam. Big K.R.I.T. is passionate, still, and that shines through when he's rapping over the production work of others. After four albums, K.R.I.T. knows what he wants to say and how he wants to say it.
K.R.I.T. IZ HERE isn’t just an excellent addition to his discography; it’s the album that marks the second arc of his career. He’s finding a new stride with the confidence of a seasoned veteran and the hunger of a newcomer. K.R.I.T. is enjoying the music from the top of his mountain, the one he built with his own two hands.
By Yoh, aka Yoh IZ HERE, aka @Yoh31