Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Big K.R.I.T., a ghost of Southern hip-hop's past, returns with 4eva

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 4:44 PM

According to Wikipedia, Big K.R.I.T. is 24 years old. But he looks like an old man when he's onstage rapping, almost like he's been here before. Last night, the Meridian, Miss. native and Atlanta resident celebrated the release of his new mixtape, Return of 4eva (the follow-up to last year's amazing K.R.I.T. Wuz Here), with a listening party at Tree Sound Studios located way out on Peachtree Industrial Blvd. You can tell a lot about an artist's trajectory by the size and status of the crowd he draws to these sort of things. The makeup of this particular crowd wasn't "industry" or "in-the-streets," but more in-the-know. The place was packed on a Monday night with local tastemakers and scene stalwarts (Bem Joiner, Fort Knox), artists and DJs (4-Ize, Señor Kaos, DJ Rasta Root, DJ Dibiase), music bloggers/journalists/documentarians (Maurice Garland, 3 Little Digs, That Retail Chick Desiree Williams, Motion Family), and a slew of word-of-web attendees mouthing words to songs that had only recently been leaked. (Return of 4eva was officially released for download last night.)

The listening party was scheduled for 7 p.m.-10 p.m., but like any party where the food is free and the courtesy drinks are flowing, time was relative. When K.R.I.T. finally came out of hiding and took the stage with his partner and hype-man for the night Big Sant, it was well past 10.

"Y'all thought we wasn't gonna perform tonight, huh?" Big Sant said in the mic after they performed the opening cut "My Sub" — a song designed to maximize subwoofer bass, and dedicated, by K.R.I.T., "to all my people that ride subs, amps, tweeters and shit."

Much has been written about K.R.I.T.'s ability to mine the seemingly bygone tenets of Southern hip-hop while simultaneously creating something both familiar and authentic (which has to be about as hard as coming up with a new recipe for fried chicken). It can be heard in how he stresses his vowels similarly to deceased king of all things trill, Pimp C, but also in the way that he romanticizes the celebrated traditions of the culture (with his affinity for subwoofer bass and genuine pimp talk) to tell his own story without succumbing to stale clichés.

In the next song he performed, "Time Machine," K.R.I.T. "narrate[s] the scene with [his] high beams," reminiscing over life lessons gained while riding shotgun with his pops.

It's the kind of rap that could only come from a young man with an old, introspective soul. The look in his eyes as he performed made it seem as if he'd been here before. It wasn't the kind of visual one would hope to capture on a cell-phone camera, but it wasn't until I got home later that night and looked through my iPhone that I saw this one distorted shot of him looking rather ghostly. It seemed fitting.


The video for the song "Dreamin' was filmed at Grady High School and Wax ’n' Facts by Atlanta videographers Motion Family.

Download mixtape at returnof4eva.com.

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