Big K.R.I.T. Lists His 10 Favorite Underground Albums

big krit feature

Earlier this week, Big K.R.I.T. released his debut album, Live from the Underground. Since 2010, he's released three free albums, each entirely self-produced and critically acclaimed. With this release, though, through his major label, Def Jam, there was a bar code. Krizzle has said that he went with title because even though the medium of release has changed, he wants to remind his fans that his core remains the same. And, the music proved that. Here, playing off of the album's title, XXL has K.R.I.T. break down his 10 favorite underground albums. —Adam Fleischer ((@AdamXXL))

Michael Watts Presents Swishahouse, The Day Hell Broke Loose (1999)

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I’ll definitely start off with The Day Hell Broke Loose, which is a Chopped and Screwed album. Swishahouse. That’s definitely an underground album that I fell in love with. It was so jammin’. It was one of the Swishahouse CDs that I had that I was actually listening to on a daily basis.

UGK, Ridin' Dirty (1996)

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Of course, Ridin' Dirty, which is an amazing album from UGK. From the blues aspect, and the grit of that album is super amazing. What they were rapping about—as far as Port Arthur, and the hunger in their voice. I feel like it really was one of the reasons why I was so adamant about rapping about where I’m from, and being confident in being country, and excited to be country, and Southern and tell people about it.

8Ball & MJG, In Our Lifetime, Vol. 1 (1999)

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In Our Lifetime, Vol. 1, 8Ball & MJG. Organized Noize produced that one, as well. “Paid Dues” is one of my favorite songs from 8Ball & MJG featuring Cee-Lo Green. I was in high school, and I was playing baseball around that time. It was one of them things, when you on a long bus ride, playing “We Started This” will definitely get you crunk. “We started this shit, and we gon’ finish this shit!” They had a real playa pimp tight feel to the music. We talkin’ about ridin’ around and just tryna relax and soak up game. They definitely dropped a lot of game and knowledge in their music.

8Ball & MJG, Comin’ Out Hard (1993)

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Comin’ Out Hard would be another album from 8Ball & MJG that I fell in love with, around 1999, 2000. It was because of a certain song—“Pimps” was the name of the record. I could never figure out how they used the sample and how they flipped the sample, and it took me years to find out what the sample was. I’m talkin’ about, like, a year ago I found out what they sampled on “Pimps.”

Playa Fly, Fly Shit (1996)

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Definitely give a shoutout to Playa Fly. I’m not sure how many people are familiar with Playa Fly, but I remember listening to “Flizy Coming” and “Crowin’ Me” over and over again as a young teenager. It’s crazy, ’cause he had his father singing on a lot of his hooks, and it was a lot as far as his family. His click, he named after his grandmother, I think. It’s crazy that he was utilizing so much of his family in the music. I kind of do the same, as far as my music, and actually having my grandmother on one of my songs. And dedicating songs to her all the time, and using content from her, so I understand what he was doing with that.

Project Pat, Mista Don't Play: Everythangs Workin' (2001)

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Mista Don't Play: Everythangs Workin', of course. Listening to Project Pat all the time. The way they flipped samples and things like that was so amazing to me. Mista Don't Play: Everythangs Workin' was definitely an album I played on the regular.

Dirty Boyz, The Pimp & Da Gangsta (2001)

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Definitely the Dirty Boyz album The Pimp & Da Gangsta was an amazing album, too. I remember listening to “6 Deep Creepin’,” which was one of the craziest storytelling records I had heard from somebody in a minute—as far as them using their environment so much in the record. “Rollin Vogues” was another record on that album that I played in my car.

Willie Hutch, The Mack Soundtrack (1973)

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This isn’t an underground album, but The Mack theme music by Willie Hutch. I’m not sure how many people have that in they deck. That was one of my favorite albums. It’s something I listened to on a daily basis. “Take Care of Mama” is one of my favorite records ever. If you’ve ever seen The Mack, it’s the scene where his mama’s passing away and he’s in the hospital talking to her. Willie Hutch is such an amazing artist. His discography is crazy, and he’s behind a lot of different soundtracks.

David Banner, Them Firewater Boyz, Vol. 1 (2000)

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David Banner, on the album where he was in front of the White House. Them Firewater Boyz. Hell yeah. I had the opportnunity to see Banner perform a lot of those reocrds. His stage presence, man. You talking about somebody that will jump out in the crowd. And he was spittin’ fire. I learned a lot from him as far as commanding the crowd and giving your all on stage, regardless. He’s one of the first artists that I saw perform and I was like, "Wow." He put on a real show. I remember seeing him perform “Like a Pimp” with Lil Flip, before that album came out, and he was going back in his catalog doing Firewater Boyz and just killing shit. I was like, if I had to do any kind of shows, I wanna be that kind. Whether they knew the song or not, he could make you learn the song right there and you could be just as crunk as he was.

OutKast, Aquemini (1998)

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Aquemini is an amazing album. It’s definitely not what we would consider an underground album, but it’s an album that influenced my music a lot. “Da Art of Storytellin’ Pt. 2” is an amazing record to me. From the way the utilized sound effects, the distortion, to the content. “Liberation” is probably one of my favorite songs ever. From Big Rube’s poem at the end, to everybody singing their part—even Big Boi on that thing singin’! And the message behind it. Still being able to have the “Rosa Parks,” it’s such a well-rounded album. Growing up and listening to it and being dumbfounded. Organized Noize, and how they were able to use the sampling and the scratching, but it still sounded super organic and Southern.