It’s been a steady climb for Big K.R.I.T. Ever since dropping his breakout mixtape, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, and inking to Def Jam in mid-2010, the Mississippi native has been hinting at his staying power with each subsequent release. In 2011, he further emerged with Return of 4Eva, which he then followed up earlier this month with his latest, 4Eva N A Day. Now, after three album-quality free releases into his young career, the 2011 XXL Freshman is creeping closer to the June release of his proper Def Jam debut, Live From The Underground.
Only days removed from the release of 4Eva N A Day, which secured the upstart critical praise yet again, a high download number, and made the musical prodigy a trending topic on Twitter, Krizzle sat down with XXLMag.com to explain some of the intricacies of the new release, why he’s the only producer on Live From The Underground, and his continued interest in Boobie Miles.
Your debut, Live From The Underground, was initially supposed to come out back in September. Now it’s scheduled for June, so what made you want to release another project now?
I think it was important that I gave the people another free body of music. To build the confidence up for Live From The Underground. September 27 and June, to me, is a long time to not drop a body of music. I was just like, Man, I want to do another free body of music, and it’ll be a sequel to Return of 4Eva, call it 4Eva N A Day. I wanted to make a day in the life—more personal, more honest. It has no features, because Live From The Underground is gonna have features and it’s gonna be on a broader spectrum. This is literally about what I go through on a day, from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep. Dealing with my vices, conversations with real people in my life—my father, and Big Sant, dealing with the relationship aspects, and the spirituality. All of that is in this one CD.
People loved K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, and a lot of people included Return of 4Eva on Best Of lists from 2011. How do those accolades affect your mindstate when working on new material?
I always want to top K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. Because it was my first introduction. It was so raw. I had five years to do it. “Something” was on See Me On Top Vol. 3, which came out in 2008. “Just Touched Down” was the first record that DJs found out about, and that came out in 2005. It was comprised of records that I had and had been put out before. It was so much content on it. Return of 4Eva was, Aight, I want to do something different. Expose the singing, and how much soul I got, and the features. 4Eva N A Day was me being like, There’s so much time since I dropped something new. I have to drop something. I don’t want it to just be another body of songs. I want it to be about me. People don’t see me in the studio working, or footage of me on a day to day basis. I’m putting my life on wax. It’s not gonna be like Return of 4Eva, it’s not gonna be like K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, but I think it stands on its own.
Now that you have an official album on the way, do you need to change the approach to making a single?
At the end of the day, the new single I got, I would assume, is not a typical single. We’ve been performing it, though, and people been taking to it. Even “Country Shit” wouldn’t be considered a traditional single, it would be considered a regional record. “I Got This” is me being country, soulful, utilizing the same influences I had on K.R.I.T. Wuz Here and Return of 4Eva for my single now. I was getting a lot off my chest but still incorporating singing and all that into it, so it makes sense for me. Even the singles after that, that I’m not gonna mention, it’s always going to be me being myself, because I get the opportunity to make the beats, so I keep the creative control.
Did you ever consider bringing in other producers for the album?
Yeah, but that’s going to be later on in my career. It’s almost, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, kind of thing. K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, Return of 4Eva, 4Eva N A Day—I produced all of them. My album is not gonna be 22 records. I do have to be a little more creative [with regard to] sampling, but I get the opportunity to work with some great musicians. Just trying to create soulful, gritty music. And it’s good for me to test the limits of where I’m trying to go with music.
The project starts off with “8:04 AM” and winds down with “5:04 AM.” Why those times?
Normally at eight o’clock, the sun is peeking out. I put the “4” in there for the 4Eva N A Day aspect. At 5 A.M., it’s still dark, but it’s almost morning. So you still trying to get two, three hours of sleep before the sun come up. On the road, normally you get on the plane at 9:45, 10:00; you packing at the hotel at 7:30; you probably got done with your show, did a afterparty, showered, and laid down at about 4:30. The only amount of time you have to sleep, normally, is from 5:00 to 7:30 or 8:00, and that’s where that record “Insomnia” comes from. I chose to put the “Alarm” at the end of the CD because at the end of the day, normally, is when my alarm rings for me to do it all over again.
You have a track on there called “Boobie Miles,” and you used a sample from the movie Friday Night Lights, where he’s a character, on “Hometown Hero.” What’s the draw with him for you?
That movie was extremely impactful for me. Being from a small town, being the kind of person where I really thought sports was going to be it for me, and then not being able to do that all my life. What would you considering falling down and having to pick yourself back up? Or knowing something was 100%, and then not being 100%, and you have to start all over again. That’s the story of a lot of people’s lives. It was like, this is something I want to stick to, as far as the aspect of getting up, getting out, and doing something with yourself. It’s so many people that either can’t, or tried, and weren’t necessarily succeeding but still struggled and made it happen. The story of Boobie Miles is crazy. Friday Night Lights is crazy to me. I was so inspired by that movie. The actual title track, to do the song, I was like, it’s gotta be inspirational. If you get your opportunity, your 15 minutes to say something important, you better really take advantage of it.
You were a baseball player, right?
Yeah. My cousin was a way better baseball player than me, and he didn’t necessarily make it, so that fucked me up. Like, shit. I got into college, music had become more of my focal point, and I dropped out. I thought I was gonna sign with a certain artist and it didn’t work out. So now what am I gonna do? Music.
Your last three projects have all been really well received by fans and critics. You have a high bar for the album now. How will you define success for Live From The Underground?
Just putting it out. I think putting it out is success on its own. I got the opportunity to produce it all. I signed to a label, which it was a point in time in my career I never thought I would do. I’m putting it out on a platform where millions of people can decide whether they like it or not. And I can go in a store and see it. That’s crazy in itself. —Adam Fleisher