I'm one of those people who refuses to get rid of the useless crap I've amassed over the years. From lame shit I won at Six Flags to the bike I used when I was 12, it all has to stay. It's even worse with music. In my iTunes there's a large section of "various artists" that's 99 percent from Datpiff-esque mixtapes.
Long before the days of free albums, way back in the mid-2000s, I got most of my music from mixtapes full of DJs yelling and weird remixes featuring artists I never heard of and would never hear again. It was all worth it for those three or four gems. Now, thanks to artists like J. Cole, Wale and the one and only Big K.R.I.T., those kinds of mixtapes have largely been replaced with free albums. Instead of a DJ yelling their name over and over again, we get nothing but pure hip-hop... and we are much better off.
In my humble opinion, K.R.I.T. is one of the emcees responsible for such a drastic, necessary change. While Live From The Underground is technically his only album, his "mixtapes" (4EvaNaDay, King Remembered In Time, Return Of 4 Eva and K.R.I.T Wuz Here) read more like albums. The amount and quality of the free music he has released over the years is unrivaled; some emcees won't ever have an album as good as any of Krizzle's "tapes."
I know journalists are supposed to remain unbiased, but when it comes to K.R.I.T. it's impossible for me to stay objective. Good thing I'm not a real journalist. I have made it abundantly clear that I am a die hard K.R.I.T. supporter and am more excited about Cadillactica than any other project this year. Now that it's almost here, I'm desperate. I don't want it. I need it. So when I heard about his newly-released See Me on Top 4 appetizer, I was eager to digest it. I figured this would be a preview into Cadillactica, a brief look into the project that I have been dying for. Just imagine getting to read a chapter of the last Harry Potter book before it was released? How great would that have been? (You may also have to imagine you are a huge Harry Potter fan.) What would the sound and feel of See Me On Top Volume 4 say about Cadillactica? Good or bad, how would it effect my anticipation? The excitement and questions were flying through my brain...until it was released and I slowly came back to earth.
- Hosted by DJ Dibiasi
- Various remixes and guest verses
- Lots of DJ chatter
This was not what I was expecting. It didn't have the same feeing as any of his other classic "tapes" and I'm not going to lie, the wind was taken out of my sails so much so that it hampered my first run though the project. Sure there was great rap, Krizza still gave me goosebumps a few times, and the little snippets of him talking about the album were neat, but there was no crown jewel, no "Boobie Miles" or "4evaNaDay (Theme)", that would send my anticipation over the edge. I'm not sure what I wanted or was expecting - maybe just the album? - but this wasn't it.
Ok. So this isn't Cadillactica. I should have known that when I saw the title was See Me On Top. After coming to grips with the fact that this isn't the album I was hoping for, I was able to appreciate this for what it was, a trip down Memory Lane. Though K.R.I.T. Wuz Here is considered to be his first tape, the Krizzle saga really started with See Me On Top. I found this out only after hearing all the albums and when I went back, I was surprised. See Me On Top is rough. It's amazing to listen to that project and then listen to him now, because you can really hear how much he has grown. You can literally trace the transformation from hungry up-and-comer to bonafide, confident emcee. See Me On Top 4 was an homage to those early years, his rookie season. It's almost screaming, "look how far I've come!"
Though K.R.I.T. manages to capture the essence of the original, in trademark fashion he does it better. The DJ tags are frequent but never overwhelming. The monologues are insightful and exciting (especially as we near the release of Cadillactica). The way the tracks segue into one another were well done and added that essential mixtape feel. Plus, he manages to do what so many emcees have failed trying to do; make a successful Drake freestyle with "Believe Me". Featuring the likes of Rick Ross, Juicy J, Rittz and more, it also has a star-studded guest list. Leave it to K.R.I.T. one of the men responsible for the end of the mixtape era, to bring it back and make it even better.
So this isn't the epiphany inducing, epic Cadillactica-prequel I had hoped for. In reality, asking him to essentially release an album before he releases an album is unfair; the only thing that will appease my appetite for Cadillactica is Cadillactica itself. So, it's a good appetizer. Like other See Me On Top installments, it serves as nice change of pace when I need some rougher, rawer rap. But with the quality I know he will bring on the album, I have to believe this mixtape will eventually fall by the way side. I can almost guarantee once the album drops, this will collect internet dust. After all, you never watch the previews after you see the movie do you?
Still, it's a welcome reminder than anything K.R.I.T does is better than most. It's amazing how even when he is making a homage to where it all started, he goes to exhaustive measures to make it seem so rough around the edges. The emphasis on every aspect of the song and crating a cohesive feel that he demonstrates on See Me on Top is what will make Cadillactica the album we all know it can be. Hopefully.
[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.]