Big K.R.I.T. is hitting the road next month for his From The South With Love Tour. The southern MC/producer is traveling across the country in support of his new album K.R.I.T. Iz Here, which dropped in July.
HipHopDX recently shared Part 1 of our conversation with K.R.I.T. as he discussed his latest LP and much more. In Part 2, K.R.I.T. shares some behind-the-scenes info about the making of K.R.I.T. Iz Here and recalls how executive producer Rico Love challenged him on the project.
Krizzle also tells DX why he’s moved beyond competing against his rap peers, assesses his career ahead of K.R.I.T. Wuz Here’s 10th anniversary and reflects on the responsibility of being a torchbearer for Mississippi Hip Hop.
HipHopDX: You previously mentioned Rico Love’s heavy involvement in this album, and I think it really shines on songs like “Addiction” and “Obvious.” Listening to those, they sound like tracks that could take off and become hit singles. What was Rico able to get out of you as an artist?
Big K.R.I.T: I was at a music conference with Rico like a year ago — actually a year to the day we dropped the album. So, it was July 12, 2018. Rico pretty much challenged me in front of 500 people. He was like “Man, I feel like you’re doing a disservice to your supporters by not making bigger music that you could make [and] getting out of your comfort zone.” He felt like I belong up there with my peers, the Kendrick Lamar’s and J. Cole’s. He wanted to see me there. I’m on stage, Mase is on stage too, and there’s all these up-and-coming amazing artists and everybody’s talking. I’m like, “Wow.” I told him, “Man, you know what? You’re right. Let’s go!”
So, from that point on, it was about trying to get in the studio and playing him what I had at the moment. And then it was, “That’s cool. Let’s work with these people, let’s get in with these people.” Him and my manager [were] really key components. The honesty level was off the grid. They’d say, “That’s you being safe. Let’s not be safe. That cadence is cool, but I think you can kick this a little bit different.” So, the outcome is me not only challenging myself but putting myself in a position as an artist where it’s like just be free.
I’ve been telling a very intricate story throughout my career. K.R.I.T Iz Here is its own thing, its own body of work, its own music. It’s the happiness that I’m in now. [It’s] the freedom that I have now, the independence that I have now and celebrating that. And growing as an artist and a human being. I wanted to showcase that.
HipHopDX: One line on this album that really stood out was on “Everytime” where you rap, “If I compete with me, there’s no second place.” At this point in your career, are you feeling like you are no longer competing against others? Instead, are you competing against your own legacy? You’re facing a high bar set by K.R.I.T Wuz Here and Return of 4eva.
Big K.R.I.T: Definitely. Catalog-wise, I’ve dropped an enormous amount of music and people still want to hear from me. They still wanna see my growth. People want to see me [compete] with my peers, but when they get to talking about me, they’re bringing up K.R.I.T. Wuz Here or 4eva N A Day or Return Of 4eva, King Remembered In Time, 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time, Cadillactica, Live From The Underground. They’re naming my previous works, so I’m competing with myself. To me, it’s like I’m still in the loop. I’m still doing what I need to do. I’m just growing and people are growing with me.
Some people might not get some of the subject matter that I’m on right now, but when they get older, they may get it. They might just be catching up on my past stuff now like, “Damn, he was rapping like this in 2010?” It’s making timeless music, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about people understanding I’m going to keep growing as I get older, and the subject matter is going to change. I’m happy right now. I’m not angry. I’m still competitive, but I’m just competitive because I want the song to be great. I’m proud of all my partners out here making it happen. But my music is no theatrics, no stunts.
HipHopDX: Another collaborator I wanted to get your thoughts on was Yella Beezy. It was cool hearing you with him just because your respective fan bases probably didn’t expect to see you two ever work together. That’s why I liked it so much. What was it about Beezy that made you want to work with him?
Big K.R.I.T: The homie be going in! It made sense to me because I started off, bucket list-wise, working with my OGs. I worked with the people that I grew up listening to as an artist or just as a fan that got me through a lot of turmoil with what I was dealing with in my life. Now, I’m in a position that I’m looking at some of these young artists. They got their marketing plan together. They know how they want to be viewed. They doing they albums and they going in! They maybe know how to deal with the negativity a little bit better because social media and negativity are constant.
The homie made sense, and then he country! He got his own little swang to it. And he killed the hook. I’m just excited that I be out here and I’m just working. We rocking and the love and the support is there.
HipHopDX: I know a lot of people were very excited to see you working with J. Cole. Was that something y’all cooked up when you were at the Revenge Of The Dreamers III sessions in Atlanta?
Big K.R.I.T: No, so crazy thing is I already had that record before that session. But I was able to … I mean, it’s in Atlanta at Tree Sounds [Studios]. Shout out to Groove [Chambers] and Mali [Hunter] for all the love they showed me throughout the years. But yeah, Cole was there and I just was going just to be a part of the energy. And it’s crazy, it was so many artists. It was young folk, it was some producers, OGs that pulled up, writers that I was rocking with that I’d never met or had the opportunity to chop it up with. And it was just like a dope thing as far as Hip Hop is concerned.
But the “Prove It” record was me finalizing the album and just being perfect for Cole to jump on. But it happened before all that, as far as me having the song. I sent it to him in the midst of him probably trying to finalize the Dreamville project, and I’m just thankful that the homie had the time to actually jump on it.
I’m thankful I was able to curate it in a way for him to talk about something that was personal to him. I don’t know [the fan] Felicia personally, but now I know about her. [We were] able to reverse the support and kind of shine a light on the people that been there and always been grinding and telling people about us and our artistry and our music for years and shine a light on her. It just worked out. It was amazing.
HipHopDX: In regards to the closing track “M.I.S.S.I.S.S.I.P.P.I.,” I’ve always enjoyed your use of acronyms. Is it a fun challenge as a lyricist to come up with things like that?
Big K.R.I.T: Definitely. But the thing about the “M.I.S.S.I.S.S.I.P.P.I.” record was Danja produced that and then he had DJ Camper on the keys and stuff. So, what happened was Danja played the record and I’m trying to write to it. I’m trying to write, but it’s just so jag and sporadic. I felt like I shouldn’t try to write. So, I did some freestyling first. Played it and came up with the verse. Then we made it more intricate, not necessarily to the grid but with the strings. So, we added adlibs and stuff.
Then at the end, I’m like, “Man, this is Mississippi!” It’s like I’m bringing you home, but it’s not like an aggressive thing. It’s not me being angry because you never been there — I’m showcasing it. At that point with the acronym, it was sitting down and thinking what’s a positive acronym for where I’m from? And maybe I’m so southern I sometimes scare ignorant people’s perception of independence, I’m from Mississippi. And that was it. It was lit! It was the green light like, yeah, this is great.
And then Danja went back in and created all of those drops and breakdowns. It just became this movie in a song. And yeah, I got to be the first person to have a positive acronym of Mississippi. I’m sure of it! That’s a lot of letters, playa, that’s a lot of letters.
HipHopDX: Indeed. You hit the high mark on that one.
Big K.R.I.T: Appreciate it.
HipHopDX: Speaking of Mississippi, I’ve always seen you as the next guy after Crooked Lettaz to lead the charge for Mississippi on the national level. Have you ever felt like you had the pressure of carrying the weight of the whole state on your back at times in your career?
Big K.R.I.T: Yes, of course. But then you realize I can’t change what’s happened in the south. You’ll see movies portray it a certain way or encounter people who’ve never been there before. Earlier in my career, I was frustrated like how you never been? But now, it’s like I’m from Mississippi and what I’m going to do is be a positive reflection of it.
And there’s a lot of other artists from Mississippi that’s putting on right now. Obviously, you’ve got David Banner. You got Rae Sremmurd. You got another one of my homies, Big Sant. You got Dear Silas. There are artists out here that are putting on for Mississippi. You just got to find it.
The blessing is streaming has made literally everybody like the Wild West. If you are able to make quality music, music that’s jamming and you find your passion, people will listen to it. Everybody gonna go platinum eventually. It might be 20, 30, 40 years from now, but we all going platinum.
HipHopDX: I think that’s a great point. A lot of artists from Jackson come to perform here in Baton Rouge and the level of talent is impressive. There’s just a ton of talent in Mississippi.
Big K.R.I.T: Yeah! I mean if you never been here before, you might not understand the grassroots of it. But before we were out here touring Chitlin Circuit-wise, Boosie was coming through killing it. Webbie too! The south and being underground and being immersed in it, you build this foundation. People grow with you and become family.
It’s bigger than you as an artist because you have the opportunity to speak for everybody down there that may watch certain TV shows or they may see a comedy and somebody said something that doesn’t really reflect where they’re from, but it’s a joke. We become those voices for those people that don’t have the opportunity. Like naw, we’re educated. Naw, I got mine together. I got this old school ’cause I like it but that foreign in the garage!
HipHopDX: Obviously, K.R.I.T Iz Here is the connection to K.R.I.T Wuz Here, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary next year. What’s it like approaching such a big anniversary and have music that stood the test of time like that?
Big K.R.I.T: Aw man, time flies first off. And then, this is a marathon. R.I.P. to the homie Nipsey Hussle. We out here and we’re creating because we love what we do, but we have a voice now. We have to grow. You go from seeing people at your show and then now, they’re a couple. Now, they got kids or they got married!
You start to realize people are creating memories with you, and you’re creating memories with them. You’re able to talk about these things and engage. And the hug means so much. The positive energy you need, it gives you that motivation to continue to write and to continue to make music. And I just feel blessed, brother, that throughout these years people not only seen me rap or make music, but I’m still connecting. It’s crazy.
Read Part 1 of DX’s interview with K.R.I.T. here.