Release Date: Jun 5, 2012
Record label: Def Jam
"If you're lookin' for a Southern country bumpkin, let me be it," Meridian, Mississippi, rapper-producer Big K.R.I.T. proclaims on his major-label debut. As on his mixtapes, this lovable throwback evokes his down-home life and day-to-day grind over the playacadillistic grooves of vintage Outkast and UGK. But his retro vision is wide; B.B.
K.R.I.T. may be transitioning from mixtape favorite to major-label player, but his self-produced space-age funk maintains a coat of thick Mississippi mud. He uses his new clout to invite guests like Melanie Fiona and Ludacris to sip moonshine and spin backwoods tales of soul survival (”If I Fall”) and country debauchery (”What U Mean”). With its feral lyrical hunger and playful production, Live From the Underground is the best distillation of the South since OutKast’s rule-rewriting heyday.
Live From The Underground is being promoted as the debut record by Big K.R.I.T - King Remembered in Time - but that's just a stodgy relic of old-timey label machinations. K.R.I.T., who limns backwoods struggle with honesty and a velvety twang, has been around for a couple of years now. Praise for his 2010 mixtape, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, landed him on XXL's annual Top 11 Freshmen cover, and 2011's self-produced Return Of 4eva had the conceptual depth of a studio album despite being billed as a mixtape.
I approached Live from the Underground of the opinion that Big K.R.I.T. is the most exciting hip-hop artist to emerge in the last few years. A big statement, yes, but one based purely on the quality of his output thus far. Dropping beautifully constructed mixtapes every few months, the Mississippi native has been at the forefront of hip-hop’s revaluation of what actually constitutes a mixtape, releasing a number of fully-functioning, fully-original and fully-free records that qualify as classics in their own right.
No point dancing around it: Yes, Big K.R.I.T. sells out on Live From the Underground. It was unavoidable: No rapper goes into the Def Jam sausage factory and emerges without a 2 Chainz feature on a song about strippers. Yes, there are songs here that never would have made his two superlative mixtapes (K.R.I.T.
Big K.R.I.T.Live from the Underground[Island Def Jam; 2012]By Craig Jenkins; June 18, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGBefore Drake invaded terrestrial radio with nods to DJ Screw and ESG, before Lil Jon made “crunk” a household term, before Jay-Z thought it was cool to put UGK on a single, there was the Dungeon Family. The Atlanta collective didn’t put Southern rap on the map, but they did make significant inroads in carrying their region’s sound into the hip-hop community at large, and eventually, the charts. In quality and consistency, the original run of the Dungeon Family has scarcely been touched by anyone since, least of all the members themselves.
If you couldn't tell by now, Big K.R.I.T. is from the South. Mississippi to be exact, a place where people drive old-school Cadillacs, wear gold grills in their mouths, drink moonshine, and say things like "Aww, sookie sookie now." We know this because K.R.I.T. (an acronym for "King Remembered In Time") takes great pains to remind us of where he comes from, and what goes on there, every chance he gets.
Recalling a time when UGK and Scarface were the dominating Southern sound, Mississippi rapper/producer Big K. R. I.
Review Summary: Enjoyable southern rap that emulates its influences wellIn a relatively short period of time, Big K.R.I.T. has made a name for himself as one of the south's rising stars since 2010 debut K.R.I.T Wuz Here. The Mississippi rapper/producer escaped the "trap"pings of regional mainstays Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy, expounding a more conscious-bent lyrical style coupled with smooth, soulful beats.
Before Live from the Underground, Big K.R.I.T. was maybe the most exciting rapper whose discography was without a studio album proper. Between his free K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, Return of 4Eva, and 4EvaNaDay mixtapes, not to mention odd singles like “Money on the Floor”, the Mississippi native has put out enough unrelenting Third Coast bangers to fill a greatest-hits comp for someone who’s been around twice or thrice as long as he has.
Though Big KRIT’s name proclaims an earnest desire for immortality, ‘Live From The Underground’ is a disappointing, forgettable album. A gravelly voiced insight into the everyday trials and tribulations of the man otherwise known as Justin Scott, it nevertheless sounds like a very old hip-hop album, one inspired 18 years too late by G-funk, hos and money. It breaks very little new ground – which does have the upside of the songs sounding catchy because you feel like you’ve heard it all before – though Melanie Fiona’s vocals on ‘If I Fall’ and Ludacris’ offerings on ‘What U Mean’ do at least inject a badly needed freshness.[i]Kieran Yates[/i] .
Two years after the release of his breakthrough mixtape, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, 18 months after being named a XXL freshman of the year, nine months after its original shelf date and a handful of cross-country tours later, Big K.R.I.T.'s proper debut album has arrived. "Good things," they say, "are worth waiting for" and Live from the Underground is the best Southern rap record since Big Boi's Sir Lucious Left Foot dropped two summers ago.
In 2011 Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T., born Justin Scott, released a song called “Dreamin'” on his Return Of 4Eva mixtape that perfectly encapsulates his scrappy, hard-working appeal. Over a simultaneously sleepy and spooky sample of the Brothers Of Soul’s “Dream” K.R.I.T. describes growing up listening to his Southern hip-hop heroes like UGK, Scarface, 8Ball And MJG and Three 6 Mafia while at the same time writing rhymes of his own on his baseball glove, like Holden Caulfield’s dead little brother in Catcher In The Rye.
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.
Southern pride ain't no joke. A Mississippi MC whose style bites big on Memphis speed, UGK sauce, and David Banner's snarl, Big K.R.I.T.'s the metalloid conglomeration of the Dirty South ideal, a fiery rapper who recognizes the appeal for dousing an 8Ball & MJG collaboration with a hot vat of molasses. Thus, second LP Live from the Underground arrives with every southern accent in tow: crescendo horns and soulful keys on "Cool 2 Be Southern," emotive tracks glorifying hustle ("Don't Let Me Down"), and over-the-top Ludacris guest spots ("What U Mean").