K.R.I.T Iz Here Album Review: A Soulful Ride Through The South
Big K.R.I.T. released arguably his most noteworthy project nine years ago, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here. The mixtape was some people's first introduction to the southern lyricist. Now he releases his fourth studio album K.R.I.T. Iz Here, staking his claim in the rap game. Opening with the previously released single, "K.R.I.T Here", the song samples The Winans "Trust In God". Mirroring the risky journey K.R.I.T. takes on as he continues his efforts to stay independent. With the chorus ending on "That was them, this is me, this is king, you ain't know," he's informing us this venture is different. A path, he's embarked on since his mixtape, It's Better This Way. It was the predecessor to the announcement of him leaving Def Jam a year later and going indie. Lyrics like "Play for the team that I own, ain't no takin' my spot," he's seen relishing in his freedom from a major, repping Multi Alumni, his label. The video is the spitting image of K.R.I.T.'s message, cutting in between the music showing white record label owners, buying rappers off an auctioning block, reminiscent of slavery. He leaves, accompanied by beautiful trumpets and Black tribal dancers, celebrating his escape from bondage. The heavy gospel and jazz-influenced intro track is just the beginning of his deep dive into southern black culture. On "High End Country Interlude", he calls upon Karlous Miller to prep you for what you're about to listen to " educational display of a verbal ability bestowed upon a/magnificent human being/prepare yourselves." Jazz weaves into the track "Make It Easy", sampling Jerry Butler "Make It Easy On Yourself", as he thanks God for the struggle he's been through to get to where he's at now. "Those "oh-so-wrongs" done turned to "You right"/And those "oh-so" days done turned to great nights." He is comfortable bragging about his position in the rap game, knowing he's lyrically better than his competition. He did it a different way, and he's a champion for that. Making his lane like Tubman, "'Cause I did it without a hit, my nigga, you know how it be/When it's real, no doubt, all this here come word of mouth/Put me in yo' conversations, whisper 'bout me like I'm Jason" K.R.I.T has always been a lyrical surgeon, able to lace words together with ease. This ability sees him incorporating sports effortlessly into songs since K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, with songs like "No Wheaties." We see him revisit this comfort zone with"Everytime" feat. Baby Rose, who he employs to sing the angelic chorus, giving the track a soulful vibe. K.R.I.T. enlists the help of sports analogies to reflect his music career "Trophies on the way, trophies on the way/Endurance for my soul, cardio the faith/If I compete with me, there's no second place."
It's fitting that a sports song would be the predecessor to "Believe", his hardest-hitting song of the album, detailing Black people's ability to believe. "We can't stay down on our knees/That's what we good at though, believing." Starting the first verse with tales of how he had dreams that turned into reality "Went from ball playin' to the mall slanging/CD's of niggas tryna scrape a hundred/Now it's a hundred when I get a steak." Hoping to bring the success he gained to his hood, he continues, " I need this here for the inner city/I need Wakanda in Mississippi." He lays second verse with methodical precision, splitting it in half. In the beginning, he speaks on what has him believing things are going to be alright " All the police ain't been tryin' to kill us/All the medicine is bound to heal us." It switches at the midpoint as he raps about what he's afraid of, demonstrating the duality of us all, "Scared I'll die young with no children to hold." His most impressive feature, J. Cole shines on "Prove It", a song about showing your dedication to someone through action rather than words. Busy invoking the Rap God, Andre 3000 on What A Job, Cole raps about a fan that always supported him "To shout out one of the first fans that a nigga ever had named Felicia." K.R.I.T. throws on his conductor hat once again, as we board the Stankonia express down south with his "Blue Flame Ballet". It takes you on a space trip to the strip club with the accompaniment of a signature funk bass-line and the airy vocals of Rolynne Anderson, as she describes as real work of art " I'm talkin' shows on Broadway at the strip club/I saw ballet at the strip club." K.R.I.T. emphasizes the importance of the strip club in southern culture, liking it to an event "Under light, she shinin'/Through the smoke and mirrors, I/ could see a diamond." We continue on the train stopping in Houston with "Learned From Texas", paying homage to the influence that D.J. Screw and U.G.K. has had on him, even chopping and slowing the chorus in D.J. Screw fashion. "Learnin' shit from Texas, swangin' that bubble eyed Lexus." He finishes the album on possibly his most southern song on the project, "M.I.S.S.I.S.S.I.P.P.I" (Maybe I'm So Southern I Sometimes Scare Ignorant People's Perception of Independence.) Introing the song with a deep bass-line that is signature to Blues music, with piano keys and a trumpet stacked on top. K.R.I.T churned this gumbo full of southern musical elements, to give a hole-in-the-wall feel, to go along with the occasional snaps, as if he is doing a spoken word performance. He ends the project as he should, repping where he's from, Mississippi.