Big K.R.I.T. is a small-time artist with big dreams. In fact, the first track of his latest record, Return of 4Eva, even starts with a rudely interrupted one. Just the records initial country-boy-with-his-head-in-the-clouds intro, and how that persona appears consistently throughout through Return of 4Eva, makes the Meridian, Miss. producer/rapper instantly likable.
Its also hard to deny liking his moments of lyrical and sonic intimacy: not since T.I. put down most of his Paper Trail verses during house arrest has there been such a successful document of bedroom Southern rap, be it made in studio or not. You get the sense that K.R.I.T. made this music on his lonesome, with no studio parties to distract him from his craft.
More to the point than just likability is the trove of wonderful sounds and smooth flows on Return of 4Eva. Its one that that makes the rapper worthy of not just admiration but respect and consideration as a serious contender for rap stardom in front of and behind the microphone. A mixtape, this is not. This is a full-fledged statement.
Beyond just being loved and respected, though, K.R.I.T. is the rare Southern rapper who seems like hes genuinely in it for the art and the craft, and not necessarily fame or money. The rappers almost conceptual leanings and semi-cinematic introduction, recalling Stankonia or Aquemini-era Outkast, shows that K.R.I.T. knows that behind his music is something bigger than hip hop.
You can almost viscerally feel that bubbling on R4 Theme Song, a killer track that rides the line between funk and crunk with a classic clap-and-bass drum pattern (and a particularly snappy snare, reminiscent of fellow Mississippi native David Banner) and vocal sample that no mortal Southern rap fan can resist putting on repeat for at least a few plays. Its likely the records best song. The tracks three minutes of joyful boasting includes a repeated oath to refrain from being lame. Lets hope Big K.R.I.T.s promising career bears that out. For now, dude is looking very much un-lame.