Big KRIT is obsessed with the concept of “forever.”
So many of his albums — official retail releases and otherwise — revolve around the idea of legacy. Even down to his chosen pseudonym: King Remembered In Time. He began to script his own legacy from the very first major release, titled KRIT Was Here, telling us his goal right from the beginning. Yet, somehow, he got lost along the way. Despite the tremendous reception of his soul-drenched, bass-heavy sound, with two underperforming albums at Def Jam and a plethora of misinformed social media jokes about the monotony of his sound, it seemed that, cruelly, his ultimate destiny was to fade away, the man known as Justin Scott becoming little more than an internet meme parody of Big KRIT, the performer. But 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time might be the turning point that takes him from underappreciated critical favorite to a true king, cementing his legacy as one of the greats of this generation, and part of how it accomplishes that is by allowing those two halves of KRIT to coexist.
Where 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time stands apart from the rest of his work is in the fleshing out of the country-friend, gravy-smothered goodness of his strongest productions, adding the little artistic flourishes that transform rote song building into works of actual art that will stand the test of time. Consider the electric guitar solo over the breakdown on “Subenstein (My Sub Part IV)” or the expansion of his sound into a vintage Organized Noise creation alongside Dungeon Family stalwarts Cee Lo Green and Sleepy Brown with “Get Up 2 Come Down.” There’s an undercurrent of history tying into legacy, with KRIT incorporating his musical influences into the album that is designed to turn around his career trajectory and prove he belongs in their exalted pantheon.
This is most definitely a Big KRIT album sonically. Every component of his prior musical compositions is there: The booming 808s, the gloriously-chopped soul samples, and the rapid-fire rhymes that tackle and deconstruct every subject from strip clubs to Sunday sermons all serve to paint the same, colorful Southern imagery KRIT has become renowned and even ridiculed for. It’s an old joke that “Big KRIT songs all sound alike,” but there’s something to be said for consistency. Almost every successful artist has a distinctive sonic identity that singles out their production as solely their own, so why should KRIT be any different?
“Ride With Me” even features UGK, the group he’s most been compared to, perhaps as a way to distinguish him from Pimp C and demonstrate he can stand alongside the all-time greats — he does, by the way. And while criticisms of his projects’ length haven’t convinced KRIT to contribute fewer songs to 4eva, by reframing it as a double album, it allows the project to split into less daunting, more digestible chunks that still tell the complete story of each half.
While the conceit of a split personality album has been used in the past, notably on “Big Bank” collaborator T.I.’s TI vs TIP project, here the execution makes perfect sense. The aforementioned “Big Bank” is classic KRIT with its hyperactive, Three 6 Mafia-inspired beat and boisterous swagger and fits cozily into the “Big KRIT” half of the album where all the more “obvious” rap lives. This half is the “Big KRIT rapping about his car and making strip club anthems” half of the double project, which should more than satisfy fans of his “Country Sh*t” and “I Got This Here” type tracks.
Meanwhile, the “Justin Scott” portion becomes more soulful, more introspective, and more personal right from its title track, which doesn’t so much sample from KRIT’s copious ’70s heartbreak soul collection as endeavor to become a part of it, with full-on orchestration, church organ, and KRIT waxing philosophical about — what else? — his legacy, his humanity, and the bumps and scrapes he’s taken to get to this point.
His raps are buttressed by supporting musicians such as the indelible Robert Glasper (on the expansive “The Light”) as he contemplates his “Higher Calling” and tries to “Keep The Devil Off.” The standout though, as with many of his past projects, is the album closer “Bury Me In Gold.” KRIT croons “bury me in gold / just in case the old man doesn’t know me and claims that I owe,” in his bluesy baritone, ruminating on life after death and what is left behind after the mortal coil expires. He promises that he’d give away all material possessions to make it heaven and see his grandmother again. There’s something melancholy and hopeful about the sentiment, that despite all his struggles, he knows it can’t go with him, but still he strives.
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, yet KRIT always wanted to be the king. He knew all this going in, which is why it was so painful to see his pedestal pulled apart, piece by piece, by either an indifferent public, or a seemingly actively hostile label, or just through plain old unfortunate circumstance. KRIT disappeared after the release and subsequent “failure” of his critically-acclaimed yet commercially-unsuccessful 2014 Def Jam album Cadillactica. That should have been that.
However, as KRIT himself would say: “Forever is a mighty long time.” Legacies are not sealed in the moment; they are constructed bit by painstaking bit, and looked back upon, the true meaning of the mosaic not revealed until time and distance have afforded the perspective to see the bigger picture. KRIT, perhaps better than any of us, seems to realize this, and so he pulled himself out of the slump to take that favored phrase of his and create a body of work that doesn’t so much get back to basics as it does build on the foundation and failures he’s survived to create another tile, and this one perhaps the most pivotal of all, in the mosaic of a legacy that will end up greater than the sum of its parts. By the time forever gets here, KRIT’s mighty legacy will be looming — and no one will remember his haters.
4eva Is A Mighty Long Time is out now via Multi Alumni. Get it here.