Getting older is hard. Sure, paying rent, health insurance premiums and bills is tough, but the real challenge is forging a new path while not losing touch with your foundations along the way. It's hard to meet up with a friend for happy hour when you have to work late or they live on the other side of the city. You aren't not friends, but it's not exactly the friendship you had in college or high school where you saw each other all the time. How could it be? To appropriately quote Big K.R.I.T, "Some people change, it’s a part of life – like seasons."
Those changes become palpable when you finally do reconnect. There always seems to be this ephemeral period of time where you just aren't on the same page like you used to be. It's weird to hang out with someone you are so familiar with and have it be like a first date. The truly great friendships though, they persevere and after that initial awkward period, you quickly sync up. It's not the exact same as it used to, but it's rewarding in a different way.
That's my relationship with a few friends from my past, but it's also my relationship with Big K.R.I.T.'s Caddlactica.
To me K.R.I.T. is very much an old friend. Thanks to some truly exceptional pieces of music, we have some great memories together. Aside from Kanye, there isn't an artist that I listen to more than K.R.I.T. It's not just one or two songs/projects, but his whole library. "Boobie Miles" is my alarm clock, "Kings Blues" is one of my favorite songs to smoke to (and it's not even about smoking), and that "ForevaNaDay" beat is just tremendous. As far as friends go, K.R.I.T. is the Skeeter to my Doug, the Milo to my Otis, the Woody to my Buzz; we go back like baby powder.
Songs like "Sookie Now", "Return of 4eva", and "Country Shit" are the basis for our relationship; I truly believe there is some sort of magic at play. Witchcraft and wizardry seem like the only logical explanation for someone being so commanding, yet so laid back and cool. How can he create that soul sound I love so much, but fuse it with a brash Southern influence and make it seem so natural? K.R.I.T's early worked really opened my eyes to the magic that is Southen rap. Before him, I didn't really "get it" but now I love the idea of bending corners in a candy painted caddy with a "Pocket Full Of Stones" blowing through my subs. K.R.I.T.'s clean ruggedness made me love Southern rap; it's amazing how influential your friends can be.
It's the KR.I.T. I got to know and love for five years and I didn't want anything different. But Caddilcatica felt more like a blind date than a drink with an old friend.
After the initial excitement of a first listen wore on and I prepared to write this follow-up review, I'll be honest, I was a little let down. Once the adrenaline stopped pumpin, the goosebumps subsided, and my Doritos supply ran out, I was felt with a weird feeling I haven't had in more whole friendship with K.R.I.T. I wasn't satisfied. Something felt missing. Where was the gritty, tough, yet technically perfect friend I had come to know and love? To sum it up in one song, where was Cadilactica's "Just Touched Down"? I was craving that moment that would show people who my friend really was, but this wasn't the same friend I once knew. I felt like a huge asshole for complaining. I mean this album is stellar. All my initial reactions were correct - the production is stellar, the flows are top notch - and yet I was a little disappointed.
Like a high school friend who is now married and has kids, K.R.I.T. has done some serious growing up. The core is still there, he's still has that commanding yet soulful flow, but the presentation is different. That gritty, raw charm that got me in the beginning is replaced by a professional, mature artistry. There isn't a "My Sub" - well there is, but even that is remarkably different - instead there is a smart, thoughtful, creative and engaging grown man making real authentic music. Not to say he wasn't making great music before, but this is a different level. Instead of a unknown, raw, emcee he's a real artist.
Case in point "Third Eye." In my opinion this might the most complete, well rounded track of Krizzle's career. I love how his smoky flow is so calm yet so powerful. How many artists could rap with that kind of understated strength, then proceed to belt out a soulful hook? Hip-hop is no stranger to love songs, but this one has a different, more adult version. It's not "she's a bad bitch"; it's "I'm really truly in love with her." It's "I'm more intrigued with your mind than your ass and your assets." There is something about that that second verse that's just so captivating. And how does the track end? With a god damn jazz flute? When was the last time you heard a flute in a rap song? The K.R.I.T I used to kick it with was known for melting my face off, but it seems like the new, pensive K.R.I.T is more interested in picking my brain, talking real issues and real feelings. Instead of talking about boobs and cars he wants to talk life. Sure, he still loves cars ("Mind Control") but there is noticeable growth; he carries himself differently. It's an adjustment, but ultimately, we are thick as thieves, so I'll adjust and the experience will be more rewarding.
It seems like, in writing this, I'm starting to get past that initial shock of seeing a friend in a different light. I've stopped trying to find the things that made us friends in the first place; I am more interested in what he has to say now than what he used to be like. Will it have the same number of spins as Hometown Hero"? I don't know. Even though its a week after my first review, it's still way to early to come to these big conclusions; like any relationship, these things take time.
But the truth is that, "Some people change, it’s a part of life – like seasons." After Cadillactica, I'm still looking forward to plenty more K.R.I.T seasons.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]