Big K.R.I.T. has been the Dirty’s Chosen One since 2009, when he dropped the Hip-Hop community on its head with K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. Three years, a major record deal and some incredibly flattering comparisons (Big Boi, Pimp C, 8Ball; take your pick) later, the Meridian emcee offers up his first official studio album, Live From The Underground. A project of high quality but questionable replay value, Live… doesn’t represent a step forward or backward for Krizzle, but moreso a lateral move. Underground… offers more than 4EvaNaDay but falls short of the standard set by his first two mixtapes. But while this isn’t the freshman classic that many were hoping for, the project’s still one of the better to surface in 2012.
K.R.I.T. understands what his audience wants, which can be a double-edged sword. At this point in his career, he has learned how to navigate two distinct lanes flawlessly. “Money On The Floor” is as fun as dirty south party tracks come, featuring an incredible retro beat that builds towards a chorus begging to get stuck in your head. “I Got This” serves as the album’s de facto hype track, and belongs on any gym rat’s favorite playlist. And “Yeah Dats Me,” while far from the thinking man’s track, is charming in its own infectious way. Toss in numerous songs offering genuine insight – “Praying Man,” featuring a haunting guitar loop and excellent B.B. King hook, is a real highlight – and this is a complete album, offering something for two distinct palates. And, to put it simply, every track on the album pulls off what it attempts. If you find yourself skipping a track, it won’t be due to inferior quality, but because you weren’t in the appropriate mood.
This dichotomy both helps and hurts K.R.I.T.’s cause. As previously stated, K.R.I.T. has shown the ability to craft genuine bangers and more meditative tracks, but by the end of the album, he seems a bit too comfortable following this blueprint. The 16 tracks on Underground… all trickle into one of those two categories with no exception. The audience doesn’t even have to listen to know what to expect just by scanning through the track titles and assuming which tracks will be bass-heavy, and which will be more stripped-back and soulful. Considering this is his coming-out party, it does make sense to play to his strengths. That truth alone isn’t going to make this project more endearing to longtime listeners, though.
Like a sophomore NBA player, Krizzle no longer has the luxury of sneaking up on people. Everybody in the league knows his repertoire. A bass-friendly party ballad here, an ode to his family there. A 2 Chainz feature five tracks away from an Anthony Hamilton. With Live From The Underground, Big K.R.I.T. has welded a collage of every successful sound he’s pursued since he hit the scene. Newbies will find a lot to like, and Stans should find a handful of tracks that warrant repeated listens. If he wants to elevate his game from All-Star to MVP though, he’s going to have to add some new wrinkles.
Label: Def Jam, Cinematic Music Group | Producers: Big K.R.I.T., Sha Money XL