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Big K.R.I.T., Live From The Underground

Big K.R.I.T. both epitomizes and stands out from today’s crop of young MCs. Since 2010, he’s used the Web to release three free projects, but the Mississippi native has done so with an album- level quality that makes categorizing the collections—filled completely with original production, first-rate creativity and lyrical potency—as merely “mixtapes” an affront. Each of these efforts have worked up toward his major-label debut, Live from the Underground. With this set, he’s built upon his stirring narrative and stabilized his place as a keen observer with an old soul.

While newcomers too often make artistic sacrifices to justify labels’ hefty investments, abandoning aspects of their core along the way, Krizzle refuses to do this. He’s unapologetic about his influences and the circumstances central to his development on Underground, as the traditionalist Southern aesthetic he established with previous releases endures. “Cool 2 Be Southern” is the thematic cousin of mixtape favorite “Country Shit,” while “My Sub (Pt. 2: The Jackin’)” follows Return of 4Eva’s “My Sub” as another ride-around anthem.

The roots of K.R.I.T.’s previous work are evident here, but new seeds have sprouted, and other concepts have developed into fresh models. “Porchlight,” drenched with Anthony Hamilton’s vocal soul, takes on the strains that come with balancing work and romantic relationships. Later, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” reflects on the importance of paternal companionship, understood better through the passage of time, while on “Praying Man,” K.R.I.T. teams with the guitar plucks and soothing voice of B.B. King for a chilling account of a slave’s journey from shackles to freedom.

It’s these nuanced sociopolitical themes—as well as the personal and emotional transparency evident on cuts like “Don’t Let Me Down” and “If I Fall,” featuring Melanie Fiona—that account for the value of K.R.I.T.’s lyrical stylings. His strength doesn’t lie in similes, though he does offer those. Instead, the cohesion of verses, songs and, in turn, the album, reveals his true gift.

As in the past, the Cinematic Music/Def Jam signee again handles production for the entire project. His incorporation of live instrumentation creates a grounded sonic variety, where notable moments like the harmonica on “Live from the Underground (Reprise)” and the piano melody on “If I Fall” play off the drippy synths of “Money on the Floor” and the vocal loops of “Yeah That’s Me.” The sounds are individually diverse but complementary on the whole.

In a time of formulaic approaches to club and radio hits, Big K.R.I.T. is navigating a space of bluesy Southern hip-hop like no artist in recent memory. With Live from the Underground, through deeply authentic takes on his own life and surroundings, the 2011 XXL Freshman has found a way to create some of the most resonating, least selfish rap music around. —Adam Fleischer (@AdamXXL)

  • BREAL

    Haven’t even heard the album yet and I already know this should have been rated XXL….Seriously that’s how talented this dude is….He’s in a lane of his own…Its pretty sad that XXL can’t fully appreciate that…..who was the last artist to get the XXL rating anyways? Can someone answer that?

    • zrstar

      I believe Wiz got XXL beats on Allderdice mixtape and this album is so dope

    • WaveGod

      Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

    • d

      dude this album’s weak compared to the mixtapes, whether this is due to the label or a slip on KRIT’s part is unknown but don’t diss the writers of a REVIEW (which is one man/company’s opinion) without even listening to the album.
      Man, backpack dickriders are worse than any YMCM fan boy.

    • AdzG415

      Last XXL rating was Bun B’s last album Trill OG came out in ’11

  • http://kilaisamonster.tumblr.com KILA

    Nothing Negative to say about this album. Through all the “push backs” to the final drop today. I am thoroughly impressed with ALL Krit’s work. Definitely living up to his Moniker King Remembered In Time… when its all over his muzik will be appreciated far beyond his & our life span. Meaningful, soulful, yet poetic and insightful. They should’ve sold K.R.I.T Wuz Here, Return of 4eva, AND 4evaNaDay as albums… they old would’ve sold. N I would’ve bought every single one. When u put ur heart n soul into ur muzik the cd is worth the money. 1 time for the South 2 times for the Underground. Im OUT.

    • BReal

      UGHHHHHHHH!!!! PREACHHHH!!!

  • jfl11

    It’s actually kind of underwhelming… if it weren’t for the A+ 2nd half of this album, i’d say it’s pretty average. I’m a big KRIT fan though, and the 2nd half makes up for the “meh” 1st half… so XL rating is on point.

  • Keedy

    Cant wait to hear the album BIG KRIT go hard….

  • jones

    Classic Album without a doubt

  • wat

    When will you idiots learn that only LEGENDARY (Illmatic, The Chronic, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, etc.) albums get rated XXL? K.R.I.T.’s album is amazing but it’s not LEGENDARY. Stop acting like an XL is an M or something.

    • Breal

      Hey WAT, Eat a d— and f— off b—-! LET KRIZZLE HAVE HIS SHINE! IM UGK INFLUENCED!

    • WadesSSS

      Definitely legendary, best southern rap album in the past five years besides, Sir lucious left foot by big boi and Oneirology by the cunninlynguists. This album will probably end up being remembered as the jumping point of the best southern rapper of his generation.

      • wat

        You definitely are going overboard. K.R.I.T. is AMAZING but come on now.

        • WadesSSS

          name a better southern rap album in the past five years. better than anything “Rap legend” TI had threw out there.

          • Pacer

            @ Wat – I couldnt agree more with your original comment. That was the most sensible fucking thing anyone has said in this comment box in months.

            Great album. Does it go down as “all-time”? Hell no. An XL rating aint a snub!

    • KDub503

      You’re right, this wasn’t something I’m gonna talk about for years…well it is but not like that. But it’s stuff like Tyga and Mac Miller getting L and XL that really ruins it. They need to be tougher, where XXL is Illmatic (a culture changer), XL is like LFU/Section80 (XL+), L is Kingdom Come, M is Dreamchasers 2, S is Macadelic.

    • ROXB

      True That

  • ToneTheBone925

    The only thing I didn’t like about the album was the somewhat lack of substance. Shying away from the usual money hoes cars and clothes lyrics like in his mixtapes. What made me a fan. What I LOVE LOVE LOVE is the old school UGK sound. I can really drive around playing this and it makes me feel like I’m in a Chevy Impala on 22″ Daytons haha

    Big K.R.I.T. is here to stay just want to hear more philosophical lyrics and not the usual mainstream rapper lyrics.

    If you need beats, my brother @A15150, has some that you will sound perfect on.

    Keep up the hard work!

  • TJ902

    Huge KRIT fan, I find his music grows on you the more you listen to it.

    The standouts are imo:

    Cool 2 Be Southern
    Don’t Let Me Down
    Porchlight
    If I Fall

    The rest are pretty gatdamn tight too

  • Vyokeh

    Even if the king stopped here, I’d still remember him in time. Another great addition to his wonderful collection of releases.

  • big chris

    honestly i would say jus bring it down a notch L beats, ruff choice between L and XL on lyrics, and XL originality… dont get me wrong the album is koo but i heard way better from him.

  • memphisworldflyikid

    i bought the cd Im From memphis.U gotta Congratulate Big krit 4 putting out True music.He makin south look good and im proud of tha young brother.MISSISSIPPI got something 2 say

  • domino

    Pretty disappointed by this. Krit has GREAT mixtapes and can write great topical songs, but the majority of the shit on here is just about cars and chicks, which is OK for a bit…but it’s boring thematically. The last three songs (have meaning) kinda save it.

  • Foodstamp313

    people saying its, meh? Imagine if it was back in the day when rappers didn’t have to drop a mixtape every 3 months to stay on your radar, and he could’ve combined those into his release….Dude is on another level, and is refreshing to know there’s still hope out there beyond the fake hood shit I get bombarded with from Lil Wayne and every other fake ass rapper… If I hear Drake talk about pullin’ another fuckin’ gun

  • lance

    XXL he deserves more than any mainstream garb

  • Unknown Persons UPO

    I refuse to call 2 Chainz by his commercially altered name. He is forever Tity Boi to me. Fucking UPO.Highlander is the future. Believe that.