Album Review: Big K.R.I.T. – 4Eva N a Day

Posted: April 5, 2012 in Album Review, Best of 1st Q 2012, Hip Hop
Tags: , , , ,

There will seemingly always be a market for legitimate Country Rap Tunes, but as that musical methodology has fallen further and further from vogue – as the rap production selected by southern artists has been influenced by the glossiness of the DJ Khaleds, Rick Rosses, and Young Jeezies of the world – soulful dirty south sample based beats have become harder and harder to find.  It hasn’t helped that court decisions and technology continue to eat away the profitability, and delay the timeliness with legal paperwork, of sample-heavy records.  That said, it’s important to acknowledge that the distance from the heyday of Organized Noize, Pimp C, DJ Paul & Juicy J, N.O. Joe, Mr. DJ, and Mike Dean leaves a gaping void in rap’s sonic landscape that’s craving to be filled.  Equally rare in today’s rap world are lyricists who are more concerned with honesty than image.  While the merits of honesty in art can be debated against the value of fiction, fantasy, exploration, innovation, and imagery, there is no doubt that it is refreshing to have at least a subsection of artists in any field who speak from their own authentic point of view.  Enter Big K.R.I.T., Mississippi producer and rapper, signed to Def Jam, and responsible for the critically acclaimed K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, R4: The Prequel, and Return of 4Eva along with several other mixtapes and a multitude of guest production and features.  Unlike some of the other artists highlighted in the Best of the 1st Quarter album review series, K.R.I.T. seemingly is on eve of doing very big things on a mainstream level with a deal from Def Jam, and the co-sign of XXL, but fortunately he hasn’t let go of his desire to keep giving the fans what they need, while we wait for his major label debut, Live From the Underground to hit shelves.

Big K.R.I.T.’s latest, 4Eva N a Day, is an album based on the simple concept of long day, twenty one waking hours to be exact, with songs based on the moods or themes of certain times of day and night throughout the album.  Certainly there is nothing particularly groundbreaking about the concept, but it’s solidly realized and for a free album, it’s hard to complain about the depth of an album’s conceptual framework, especially when the music is overwhelmingly solid throughout and the product is cohesively developed.

The first song on the album, “Wake Up,” has K.R.I.T. awakening to the sounds of an alarm clock and a saxophone (played by Willie B), vaguely reminiscent of the opening sequence of an early Spike Lee joint.  On “Boobie Miles,” K.R.I.T. references the famous Permian High School running back, to motivate listeners to give their all in whatever they do.  The track exemplifies part of the appeal and limitation of K.R.I.T. as an artist to date: his honest expression leads to moments of brilliance, but at times hints of cheap motivational speaking crop up in his song writing.  It’s easy to chaulk these moments up to the influence of Pac, and like Pac sometimes they hit home and sometimes they fall a bit flat – depending on the track and the age and circumstance of the listener.  It is a technique K.R.I.T. will likely continue to develop throughout his career and it’s hard to knock the attempt here, as it will easily attract as many listeners as it repels.

While “Wake Up,” “Yesterday,” and “Boobie Miles,” are all solid songs in their own right, their repetition, slower tempo, and jazzy feel starts the album off a bit slowly.  That changes quickly, as between “4EvaNaDay” and the final track, “Alarm,” the album is essentially skip proof.  Among the most promising tracks on the album is, “Package Store.”  Invoking Aquemini-era Dungeon Family storytelling skills, K.R.I.T. uses a ‘hood brown bag liquor store as the backdrop for tales of a pastor struggling with sin, an ex-con’s plight in today’s economy, and the dangers of his own self-indulgent drunk driving.  All three verses are delivered with the cinematic clarity of Cool Breeze, during the most promising phase of his career, and showcase the range and upside K.R.I.T. clearly has over most of his XXL 2011 Freshmen classmates.

On the topic of Big K.R.I.T.’s range, the greatest component of his appeal has to be just that, and this album flexes his variety of skills, without coming off as a “let me please everybody” album.  A major element of 4Eva N a Day‘s success comes from K.R.I.T.’s ability to mold such varied styles into a cohesive album, some of that comes from the album’s concept, as K.R.I.T. lines up the moods and themes of certain records with logical portions of the day and night.  Most of that success however, is a credit to K.R.I.T.’s swiss army skill set that includes production skills to rival the best producers in the business, a singing voice evoking equal parts Sleepy Brown and the late Pimp C, upper eschelon storytelling skills, and a flow that stays in lockstep with his soulful production and instrumental arrangements.  While many of his peers have one, or maybe two of those traits, there are none with all four.

The album continues to gain momentum throughout, and ends on extremely high note.  “Temptation” showcases his ability to not only write songs pre-made for radio success, but also produce them, as his simple bells, bass, and drums formula crafts a trunk-rattler that is a tailor made for the nightclubs, strip clubs, and backseats. “Handwriting,” chronicles K.R.I.T.’s trials and tribulations, as he works to put out quality hip hop in long-form in a music industry built on instant gratification and stereotypical norms for mainstream success.  The early morning creep anthem, “Insomnia,” also has hit potential written all over it as K.R.I.T. strikes the rare balance of a rap song about a sexual encounter that has the ability to appeal evenly to both male and female listeners.

If the album shows anything, it’s that Big K.R.I.T. clearly understands the challenges that lie ahead of him.  It remains to be seen whether Def Jam will ultimately allow him to continue be the artist he’s proven he can be on the DIY circuit.  Certainly sample clearances and the record label’s valuation of singles over albums will be obstacles for K.R.I.T. to navigate, but his varied skill set, deep musical background, and proven track record of making quality albums, containing songs with ready made for radios, clubs, and trunks all bode well for his ultimate success.

It’s hard not to love the concept of a free album, and 4Eva N a Day can be downloaded at no charge via a link on K.R.I.T.’s own website.  If you are a fan of Country Rap Tunes, I can’t recommend K.R.I.T. enough. 

“Country Sh*t (Remix)” featuring Ludacris & Bun B (off of Returnof4Eva)

Comments
  1. […] or excessively derivative.   The result sits unequivocably alongside R.A.P. Music and 4 Eva N A Day and Mista Thug Isolation as one of the best albums to come from below the Mason-Dixon in […]

  2. […] 4EvaNaDay overtly used the concept of a day in the life of Krit and began with a lot of energy in the […]

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