Last year was a huge one for Big K.R.I.T.. Beginning with March’s Return of 4Eva mixtape, an instant Southern rap success laden with time-tested sounds once employed by ’90s Rap-a-Lot alumni and early UGK, the Mississippi rapper/producer began a meteoric rise to become one of hip-hop’s brightest young hopes. By year’s end, he had collaborated with everyone from T.I. (“I’m Flexin’”) to Freddie Gibbs (“Rob Me a Nigga”) to his Memphis heroes 8Ball & MJG (“Money on the Floor“), all while nailing just about every production and guest verse he put out. And now, with the release of his 17-track, entirely self-produced 4evaNaDay tape (a prelude to his Live from the Underground full-length Def Jam debut, a release seemingly eternally in the pipeline), all of his talent has been affirmed even further.
Given the titular similarities, it’s unsurprising that 4evaNaDay is no left turn from Return. Some early reaction to this tape has said it’s K.R.I.T.’s most personal effort yet, full of borderline-TMI laments and story songs. But while it’s true that he can be especially introspective with his rapping here (see: “Wake Up”, “The Alarm”, and “Yesterday”), he also belts out plenty of bars about cash and weed and women (to wit, strippers). Moreover, that K.R.I.T. is the only rapper here – that is, that he doesn’t bring in former A-listers like Bun B and Chamillionaire, as he did on Return – is something to be noted; he’s clearly very confident on the mic now, confident enough to carry a whole project by his lonesome. If this tape is to be considered a test of K.R.I.T.’s lyrical ability, he passes, if not with flying colors, then definitely with some breathing room.
Musically, what we have here makes for an effort that stands pound for pound with Return. Whether K.R.I.T.’s in introspection mode, where songs are rife with slow and deliberate sax and hugging basslines, or amid the four-song salvo stretching from “4evaNaDay (Theme)” to “Country Rap Tunes”, where chest- and trunk-thumping drums rule alongside beefy low-end, there’s nary a dull sonic moment. Overall, the beats here, as reliant on semi-worn, sub-Mason-Dixon rap staples as they can be, are just fantastic, sometimes jam-packed with soulful and bluesy sounds but never maximal in nature. As stated above, this is by no means a drastic change of pace for K.R.I.T., and since he’s never even really needed to tweak his sound, that’s something to relish.
A few days before 4evaNaDay dropped, 8Ball of the aforementioned 8Ball & MJG released a new mixtape of his own. Titled Premro, it’s a solid collection of songs but one that tries a little too hard to gel with the current Southern rap zeitgeist, all menacing loops and splintering drums from Drumma Boy’s Drum Squad crew. In just about every way, it’s inferior to 4evaNaDay, and it’s one of many things currently signaling that K.R.I.T. is well on his way to Dixie rap hall-of-fame status. Here he is, outdoing one of his idols by modernizing sounds that inspired him in the first place. Indeed, K.R.I.T. is living out his dream, and let’s hope no one pinches him anytime soon.
Essential Tracks: “Boobie Miles”, “4evaNaDay (Theme)”, and “Me and My Old School”