Big K.R.I.T.’s sophomore album Cadillactica get’s officially released into the wild on Tuesday the 11th, Monday the 10th on iTunes, but the stream has been plugging holes in the universe all week. The response seems to be overwhelmingly positive, with Twitter shouting the albums praises.
On our first listen, we decided to talk about our favorite tracks off of the record, which may be K.R.I.T.’s national moment. Ever since getting the co-sign from Kendrick, it seems K.R.I.T.’s been reinvigorated, immediately writing “Mt. Olympus,” and spitting with a ferocity we hadn’t seen since his beat-you-over-the-head banger Krit Wuz Here. That set the stage for the rest of the year. It also helps that a reinvigorated Def Jam, marshalled to a fantastic year by No I.D., has been focusing on artistry lately as well.
With the album inching closer, we knew we just had to weigh in. Today, you’ll find our News Editor Soren Baker, freelance writer Jay Balfour and myself, Features Editor Andre Grant, weighing in on which track moved us the most.
Soren: Much like the tremendous title track of Goodie Mob’s 1995 debut album with which it shares (and likely got) its name, Big K.R.I.T.’s “Soul Food” featuring Raphael Saadiq hits with magnum force lyrically and sonically. On his version, the Mississippi rapper ties the deterioration of food to the devolution of interpersonal relationships, among other things. Unlike many younger artists, K.R.I.T. clamors for the days and principles of yesteryear, when people played games together, made love to one another and had unbreakable, life-long bonds. Musically, the somber bass, delicate piano accents and Saadiq’s wistful crooning combine for an aural atmosphere that serves as a fitting backdrop for K.R.I.T.’s sobering expose of the literal and figurative health of our communities. In a society increasingly defined by the “Me” mentality, K.R.I.T. pines on “Soul Food” for the days of “We.”
“King Of The South”
Andre: K.R.I.T.’s voice blares out into whatever space you’re in: “Grew up on the country side of townn!” And you immediately know you’re listening to the Mississippian that made “Mt. Olympus,” and not the one that, while well intentioned, got caught in the emcee/producer feedback loop that plagues some artists. Why do you think Ye´group records so much? Your voice can become too intoxicating, your ego too deafening.
Doing it for the South has been a thing for a long time, but it hasn’t quite sounded this fresh. “King Of The South” finds K.R.I.T. coming for the country rap throne that’s been long vacated by ‘Kast. Which is no easy task with Atlanta consistently dominating the Rap conversation, and with both of those stellar emcees in his soul he channels something reminiscent of a clarion call. He tells you who he’s doing it for, but there are layers. He claims the title, names the faceless denizens of the deep South’s perceived forgotten, and does so while pounding his chest for who he wants to be and who he is. He’s set himself up as the bridge between two worlds: the deep South and national acclaim; a representative of what it means to be deeply southern, deeply intelligent, and deeply gifted. It’s a feat K.R.I.T pulls off on this one with ease, and a trick he’s tried before that didn’t come off quite as well. In the end it’s a master class in balancing bombast with what you’re fighting for, and we may just have to give up that KOTS title after all.
Jay: Over the summer when Big K.R.I.T. released “Mt. Olympus,” the original version of which is sorely missed on his new album’s final tracklist, he dished it out as a wake-up call and angry petition for him to be acknowledged. He’d already settled into the chip-on-the-shoulder groove but proved that he’s as capable as lashing out as he is at smooth sailing. “Cadillactica” is the type of K.R.I.T. that leans back and brags about his slab, but there’s as much menace as brag when he raps, “Not sure if it’s the sawed-off or the bass in the trunk / That keep a nigga shook.”
Handing over production to DJ Dahi for what is essentially the record’s centerpiece shows that K.R.I.T. is maturing as an artist and can steer the spaceship while still delegating responsibility. It’s a knack required and lauded of almost any super-producer and the Meridian, Mississippi native doesn’t sound any less confident or comfortable with other producer’s claiming credit to all of the official singles. The track bounces around, lush and futuristic, completely separate from the sound K.R.I.T. engineered early in his career (Someone tell Hans Zimmer K.R.I.T. and Dahi deserve a bonus cut on that Interstellar soundtrack). There’s a time for K.R.I.T. to run to the top of the mountain and remind everyone what he’s capable of, but it’s songs like “Cadillactica” that endeared him to fans in the first place. This is K.R.I.T., expanding his car-fascinated South into a world its own, and proving once and for all that he can take it new places.
Soren Baker is the author of 13 books and has had more than 3,500 articles published in such publications as the Los Angeles Times and The Source. He has been HipHopDX’s News Editor since May 2013. Follow him on Twitter @SorenBaker.
Jay Balfour is a freelance writer and editor based in Philadelphia, PA. In addition to HipHopDX he’s written for publications like Bonafide Magazine, Red Bull Music Academy, and more. Follow him on Twitter @jbal4_.
Andre Grant is an NYC native turned L.A. transplant that has contributed to a few different properties on the web and is now the Features Editor for HipHopDX. He’s also trying to live it to the limit and love it a lot. Follow him on Twitter @drejones.